Personal Development
What Is an Existential Crisis, and How Do You Overcome It?

What Is an Existential Crisis, and How Do You Overcome It?

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What is an Existential Crisis and How Can We Overcome It?

An existential crisis, by definition, is a period of intense questioning and reflection. Its affects can be challenging and can leave us feeling overwhelmed. Recognizing the signs of an existential crisis is the first step to understanding how to best handle it, and it can also provide us with an opportunity to find a new, deeper appreciation for our values, purpose, and direction in life.

Are Existential Crises Common?

Existential crises can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender. They often arise when we are posed with sudden changes or overwhelming transitions that challenge our current outlook. While it can be hard to pinpoint if what we are feeling is an existential crisis, being aware of the signs can make all the difference in addressing it.

Signs of an Existential Crisis

  • Constant Worry
  • Depression or Anxiety Symptoms
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of energy

When we experience an existential crisis, it is typical to feel lost and disconnected from our own values and purpose in life. If we regularly find ourselves worrying, suffering from a lack of motivation or energy, or struggling with symptoms of depression or anxiety, this could be a sign that we are currently experiencing an existential crisis.

Understanding the Causes of an Existential Crisis

The root cause of an existential crisis can vary from person to person, depending on their life, circumstances, values, and desires. The following situations could potentially spur an existential crisis:

  • Big life changes
  • Unexpected turns
  • Feelings of discontentment with life's direction
  • Feeling out of control
  • Grief or loss of a loved one

Once we understand what we are feeling, we can begin down the path of finding our purpose and values again. Taking steps like improving our physical health and wellbeing by prioritizing our sleep and diet, and increasing our social activity can help us combat the effects of an existential crisis.

Using Newton's First Law of Motion as a Metaphor

Newton's first law of motion states that 'An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion.' We can use this as a metaphor to understand our bodies. If we remain inactive and lack physical and social activity, it will be harder to gain energy and proper motivation to engage in events. By the same token, an unbalanced diet and irregular sleep pattern can also lead to lower energy levels and further impact our mental health. Treating our sleep and diet as a priority can help us on our journey to conquering an existential crisis.

Overcoming an Existential Crisis

Experiencing feelings of existential anxiety is natural and many people grapple with them in their lives. Professional counselors and therapists offer existential therapy to help with understanding and connecting back to one's life purpose.

Going through an existential crisis can leave one feeling isolated and helpless. Yet, this can also be a transformative point for individuals. To reconnect with oneself and fight off disconnection, frustration, and a lack of meaning, Shiken recommends the following eight tactics.

Eight Ways to Conquer an Existential Crisis

  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Expressing emotions honestly and freely
  • Identifying the little joys in life
  • Focusing on the areas of life that are controllable
  • Keeping a gratitude journal
  • Practicing mindfulness, meditation, and reflection
  • Joining a support group
  • Remembering life's true purpose

Identity crises can occur at any point in a person's life. Knowing the warning signs and being aware of five ways to respond to them is key in avoiding a mental health crisis in the workplace. Companies must be proactive to recognize the eight signs of a quarter-life crisis and to prevent any potential issues. Once these signs are identified, it is prudent to be aware of the stages of a life crisis and how best to prepare for them. Social wellbeing is just as important as mental wellbeing and understanding how to achieve it is essential. Additionally, the changes brought on by the pandemic have highlighted the need for proactive mental fitness in the post-COVID world.

When facing a crisis, it is important to take the time to reflect on oneself, one's values, and the world around them. Contemplation and self-discovery can help an individual reconnect with their preferred life, resulting in greater future success.

Finally, recognizing the challenges that come with loss and loneliness in the workplace is paramount to preventing deeper issues. Understanding the state of connection in the workplace, and how to strengthen it, through physical and digital spaces, can help foster a sense of belonging within that environment.

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