The Skinny on Saturn Returns: What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger

11/15/2013 04:50 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

You have either gone through it, you are going to hit it, or you are currently deep in the turbulent trenches of the infamous Saturn Returns.

This is the notorious period of our life, which we hit every 30 years or so, where our life goes one of two ways -- we either take off soaring like an eagle, successful, happy and financially free, or everything crumbles around us and we fall apart. For many of us, it's the latter.

What is Saturn Returns?

The "highlights only" version is that it is a crisis that will put you face-to-face with your deepest fears. Everything you thought you wanted comes into question, as you realize you are not who, what or where you want to be.

The longer, more elaborate version: This is the astrological period of our life when the planet Saturn completes its orbit around the Sun, coinciding with the time of our birth. It happens every 29.5 years, so if you have skated by in your late 20s, this period could get you in your late 50s. Now's the time to get prepared!

We often feel the rumblings of this orbital transition a few years before it begins -- prior to the big 3-0 or the big 6-0. This time is, in essence, a metaphorical rebirth.

But what does this actually mean? Careers will take off -- or completely flop. We will meet the love of our life -- or bolt from the partner we thought would be our happily ever after.

The pressure can feel insurmountable. If you are in it, take a deep breath, because your so-called "quarter-life crisis" could just be part of growing up.

Although growing pains can be difficult, if you navigate this fierce storm wisely, you can come out stronger, braver, and happier than you ever thought possible. Studies show that rates of anxiety, depression, motor-vehicle accidents and alcohol use are at their peak from 18 to 25, trends that tend to level out by age 28.

A recent survey by Clark University, which polled more than 1,000 young adults nationwide, found that 72 percent of them said this time of life was stressful and 33 percent said they were often depressed. Still, 89 percent believed they would eventually get what they wanted out of life.

And after surviving my own Saturn Returns, I can tell you about the light on the other side of the tunnel. I am living my dream life today and it came about because I dove deep into my depression.

I rolled up my sleeves and I got to work. I asked myself, "Who are you?" "What do you want?" and "What can I do for you today that you, my future-self, will hug me for?"

Saturn Returns can help you be a stronger person. Your future self is rooting for you! If you are currently in this grey period of your life, try one of these tips to help you through.

1. Let Go

Don't be afraid to release what no longer serves you. Do you hate your job? Now is the time to quit and take a job that brings you more joy. Are you feeling suffocated in your relationship? Maybe it is time to say goodbye, or at least to renegotiate things to help you both be happy. It may feel like your world is turning upside down, but what is really happening is that all of the things you have outgrown, or no longer want, are coming loose so you can step into a revised version of yourself. Remember, things fall apart so better things can fall into place.

2. Revise Your Expectations

Revise your expectations -- both of how you thought your life should be at this point, and where you think you are going. Saturn Returns is all about exploration, learning and deep inner reflection. Be gentle to yourself during this three-year period; don't hold on to anything too tightly and learn to embrace change.

3. Go on a Future Trip

Saturn Returns is all about self-reflection. Turning inward will help you ride the waves more smoothly. Let your imagination and those inner voices guide you. If you dream about traveling the world taking photos for National Geographic, but you currently feel trapped in a desk job, trust that picture in your mind. Where our mind drifts to the most often is where our heart is. Let yourself dream about your inner-most desires. By visualizing yourself doing things that bring you joy, you can step into your future more gracefully. I trusted my own day dreams and went from a conservative advertising corporate climber to a wander-luster travel writer.
Always trust your inner voice.

4. Be Unapologetic About Your Desires

This is the time of your life to take stock. Be honest with yourself and you will liberate yourself from all of the baggage you're carrying around. What will be revealed is a clearer sense of purpose.

5. Release Resistance

Let go of the "When it happens, I will be happy," or saying to yourself that "I should be farther along in life than I am now." During this period of your life, you want to reflect on your own journey. Do your best not to compare yourself to anyone else.

Remember that it's never too late, ever, to be the person who you are really supposed to be. The pain, depression and turbulence in our lives often come when we hold on to patterns, beliefs, jobs, relationships lifestyle choice, and environments that no longer serve us. Letting go and releasing your resistance to the unknown will help you glide into the next phase of your life.

Remember that Saturn Returns reminds us of what is truly important, and makes sure we are on the path to claim our highest potential.