Menopause – You Are Not Alone
In our group class this morning, the subject of menopause came up as the majority of my ladies are going through menopause right now. Good old hot flushes are making sleep difficult as they feel like they constantly need to throw the doona off to cool down. It is also super embarrassing when you are at work and all of a sudden you just start to melt while everyone else is complaining of the cold weather.
When I was going through menopause, I was lucky as I had very few hot flushes. For me it was my mood that suffered.
I could go from totally sane to a crazy woman in the blink of an eye. I had a general feeling of sadness and ended up feeling depressed. I felt lost and really like I was at a crossroads in my life. My kids were all at the age that they were independent and so in a way, I lost my purpose. For me, I was lucky as I had a great PT who encouraged me to follow what I enjoyed doing and so I re-trained as a PT. I needed a goal and a new focus on life.
The other thing that I really struggled with was just the feeling of being in a fog, I frequently forgot simple things like where I parked the car or I would leave home to go to work and head out in the opposite direction to where I needed to go.
At times I felt like I was going crazy!
Some women also experience weight gain, especially around their belly. This can be extremely hard to deal with. Getting older impacts on how we view our bodies and we can very quickly develop a negative body image. Just buying clothes can be difficult as things don’t fit like they used to. You look in the mirror and get a fright at the image looking back at you.
Pelvic floor weakness is experienced by many women especially during and after menopause. it is very common to find that all of a sudden you start to need the toilet urgently and experience some incontinence when you cough, sneeze or even laugh. Again this can be extremely stressful and embarrassing.
To make things worse, relationships can be put to the test as intercourse can become painful which means that if you are not open with your partner about what is going on, your relationship can really suffer. All this leads to stress, anxiety and a feeling of real loneliness.
So What Can You Do To Get Through Menopause?
Manage your mindset
The biggest thing is to recognize that you are not alone. If you have friends your age, they most likely will be experiencing similar symptoms to you. Talk about how you feel and what is happening to you.
I have found that journaling and meditation is hugely beneficial. It gives you the chance to write about how you are feeling, rather than trying to bury your feelings. Journaling is also wonderful for brainstorming ideas and planning new things.
If you are feeling at a crossroads in life, why not make this the time in your life to take up a new hobby or just do something totally new. As I mentioned I went and did my PT course, this certainly helped me to get a more positive focus on my future and life in general. It also introduced me to some amazing people, who I have learnt so much from.
Take time for you
Most likely you have spent years running around and looking after everyone else. Now it is time to start looking after you and taking time to do things just for you. Unfortunately for many ladies they find that they may have independent children but their own parents now need extra care and this can be a difficult time. If this happens, I suggest you try and work with your siblings to lighten the load. Remember that taking time for you is not being selfish. You can’t help other people if your run yourself into the ground and become unwell yourself.
Exercise to be strong and feel good
With the drop of oestrogen, our muscles start to degenerate. It is said that once you reach 50 years of age, you can lose up to 3% of your muscle every year after. Strength training really becomes important to help stop muscle loss. Regular strength training will help you feel great and also improve your metabolism. A good metabolism may help prevent weight gain. Plus of course regular strength training helps to keep our bodies looking toned.
Strength training and walking also helps to keep your bones strong and can help prevent osteoporosis. Being outdoors also means you are getting some Vitamin D which helps with calcium absorption which is necessary for keeping our bones strong.
Aim to walk or move each day. I find walking is a great way to clear my mind and to help my mood. Of course it is also good for your cardiovascular system. Plus I make sure that I do some strength work most days, this may be weight training, pilates or yoga.
Look after your health
Find a medical professional that you trust and can talk openly with so that you can be looked after through this time. Unfortunately for some women this is the time when they will be diagnosed with high blood sugars or high cholesterol. So it is important to have regular checkups. Your GP can also refer you on to specialists who can help you to navigate menopause and all the associated symptoms that you may be experiencing.
Focus on eating for wellness
I know that I now need smaller meals than I used to. I have really tried to become more intuitive to my hunger signals and only eat when I am hungry. I am trying to make sure that I really eat to stay healthy.
I have increased how much calcium rich foods I have as well increasing my intake of foods that are rich in healthy fats. I am also making sure that I get my 5 serves of vegetables each day as well as 2 serves of fruit. I loving having lots of berries on my breakfast and then usually have some fruit and yoghurt during the afternoon.
Watch how much spicy food you have as this may make your hot flushes worse.
I think for most of us we love sharing a glass of wine with friends and family but unfortunately alcohol really does need to be limited as it may make hot flushes worse and also can increase the risk of high blood pressure and impairs calcium absorption which can speed up the osteoporosis.
Please remember though that going on strict diets and being really focused on your weight will lead you to feelings of frustration and failure. This time of your life is meant to be enjoyed not worrying about restricting foods and the number on the scales.
Focus on how you feel and enjoy life.
You deserve to be happy and proud of your life.