Tips to Handle the Quarter Life Crisis

For some, the quarter life crisis is a throwaway comment, a way to laugh off the daily struggles of life in your 20s. But for others, the challenges and transitions of this phase are more than a passing struggle. Serious questions about one's choices in behavior, relationships, and career begin to feel overwhelming, and at times hopeless. This is especially prevalent in the Bay Area. Below are some helpful guides to help manage this issue. 


Self Care

  • The importance of daily self care cannot be underestimated. This is especially true during challenging times of growth. Think of self care as the baseline behaviors that create stability for each day. 

  • Important self care behaviors include regular sleep, proper nutrition, and exercise. 

  • A helpful way to manage sleep is to wake up at the same time every day (including weekends). This makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep during the evenings. 

  • We always recommend that our clients reduce their alcohol use during times of stress. There are many reasons for this, the most obvious being things are more difficult when hungover, including self care.  

  • Try to be mindful of how you use your free time. This is the place where most people have flexibility, but choose activities that interrupt their self care.    

Are you trying to please others too much?

  • It’s easy for some to over index on what other people think, and ignore their own wants.

  • Pleasing others is a skill that makes sense when you are young. After all, you did spend 18+ years listening to parents, teachers, coaches, and other adult figures. In many ways, you had to please them to make it to the next step. 

  • It might feel unfamiliar at first, but try to think about things from the perspective of what feels right to you. 

  • Try to stop approaching problems by anticipating what other people would want you to do. Doing things only for others and not for ourselves leaves us feeling perpetually unsatisfied.

What are you avoiding?

  • It’s not unusual for clients experiencing a crisis to avoid something that can help solve their crisis.

  • This can include having a difficult conversation, ending unhelpful relationships, or accepting a new role that requires them to move across the country. 

  • To help with this, give yourself a moment of reflection, and ask yourself what you want that you’ve been avoiding. 

What is this feeling telling you?

  • All emotions provide us with information. In therapy, we try to teach our clients to identify what they are feeling, and to then use that emotion as a guide to provide insight.  

  • For example, the feeling of anxiety implies danger or a threat to safety in some way. Sometimes this threat is real, but more often it is an imaginal one. 

  • A common “threat” clients describe is one where their idealized future is destroyed because they made the wrong decision. This can make people feel indecisive and paralyzed about their future.  

  • Try to approach these crisis feelings from a curious perspective by asking yourself “what is this emotion trying to tell me.” Using our emotions in this way is a helpful skill.  

For help with Quarter Life Crisis and other life anxieties, please feel free to reach out to Good Therapy SF.


Dr. Tom McDonagh