An “existential crisis” often refers to inner turmoil about the meaning and purpose of life. An individual might feel unsure about their direction and question whether life itself has a purpose. It often involves unrelenting and intrusive thoughts about existence and whether one’s choices hold any meaning. These feelings are usually triggered by major life events like the death of a loved one or moving to a new city. If you’re questioning your identity or your life choices and goals, the first thing you should know is that this process is common. You’re not alone in this feeling, and it can even be a good sign of mental health.
Questioning existence is an indicator that you’re looking at life from an outward lens. You’re shifting your perspective to gain an understanding of the world, as well as your place in it. But when an existential crisis goes on for a longer period of time, it can contribute to a negative outlook on reality, especially when you’re having trouble finding answers to satisfy your questioning. After a long period of reflection and experiencing these negative emotions, you might begin to isolate yourself and lack the motivation to pursue what makes life special. Below, you’ll learn more about three of the most common aspects of existential crises and how to cope during a difficult time.
1. Feeling Preoccupied With Death
An existential crisis often involves hyperawareness of mortality. Perhaps it’s triggered by the loss of a loved one, which can lead someone to question their own existence. After losing a friend or family member, the traditional burial process can be overwhelming, so choosing cremation instead of burial can help one avoid a stressful time. Cremation planning is easier with the help of the right crematory facility. At some point in life, everyone has to face the reality of death, and it can often feel disheartening and confusing. In fact, it’s not unlikely for someone to question, “What’s the point of life?” During these difficult times, it’s important to reach out to someone for emotional support. This can be a mental health professional or a family member who may be experiencing the same emotions. It’s important to avoid isolation and seek out connection when preoccupied with existential dread.
2. Remorse About the Lack of Control
Another common aspect of an existential crisis is feeling remorse toward things you can’t change. Perhaps you regret making past decisions or feel unhappy about the direction of your life. Maybe you feel like you should have chosen a different career or you feel sad that life turned out differently than what you had expected. To cope with this feeling, it’s important to practice mindfulness and gratitude. Some people are skeptical about journaling, but maintaining a written record of your feelings can help you clarify your questions and find meaning during crises. Practice gratitude by jotting down meaningful events to help you remember the things that make you feel happy and fulfilled. Journaling can serve as a physical reminder for positive experiences that add more meaning to your life.
3. Excessive Worry
When experiencing an existential crisis, you will worry more than usual. You’ll feel preoccupied about your life choices or even existential threats like climate change or natural disasters. It is not uncommon to experience anxiety during these difficult times. The best way to cope with excessive worry is by redirecting your energy. It’s the perfect time to try to restore balance to different aspects of your life and identify the areas that could use more of your time and effort.
The aspects listed above are just three of the key components of existential crises. During these difficult times, it’s important to prioritize gratitude, mindfulness, and seek out social support through therapy services as well as family and friends.