How To Thrive During The Menopause Years

The Reality

I still can not quite believe that a natural stage of a woman’s life is still such a taboo, and still, many women are struggling to get the help they need to thrive during the menopause years. Many women are misdiagnosed and put on antidepressants, while others are told they are too young to be having menopausal symptoms. Some women are embarrassed to speak openly to family and friends, while others fear discrimination at work if they share their concerns and challenges.

Fortunately, companies in the U.K. like Sainsbury’s, Next and Vodafone have introduced a Menopause Policy for their female workforce. So things are moving in the right direction but so much more needs to be done worldwide.

Radical Self-care

None of this is good enough, and as we are not in the Dark Ages, I am on a mission to help as many women as I can to thrive during these years, particularly as some women have symptoms for many years.

Radical self-care is the only place to begin because this is often the place we miss.

Many of us are givers, nurturers, people-pleasers, as this is how we are wired. We are taught from an early age that other people come first, and this is the perfect time to take stock of your life and begin to put the focus on yourself. Before you say this is selfish to put your needs first, this is not true as you can not look after anyone if you have got nothing left to give.

Menopause is the perfect time to put your self-care on another level and to include self-love, self-compassion and self-respect. No more criticising or judging yourself so harshly — no more. Time to begin getting to know this remarkable woman and treat her as if she was your best friend.

The Basics

We all know by now the benefits of keeping ourselves hydrated, eating healthy foods and exercise as this is all good for our mental and physical state. Although I must mention here I am a big advocate for this kind of lifestyle, please do not think I am a Saint just because I have the same name as Mother Teresa! Carbohydrates, cake and chocolate, are still a part of my life.

Going for annual checkups is a given, and this means not saying you are too busy or you will do it another time. No, this means putting a date in your diary and prioritising yourself. A big one, as many of us, are too busy worrying about everyone else, and menopause is the perfect time to put yourself on the priority list.

Knowledge Is Power

When you are going through any change in your body, it is essential to raise your awareness and knowledge of what is happening. Not to frighten yourself or to become an expert but to be informed. Once you begin to understand what is happening, you are more likely to not be so fearful or concerned about your symptoms and know that this phase will not last forever. Menopause is not an illness, but the paradox is you can be left feeling very ill. Not every woman experiences the same amount of symptoms, and for some, they can be debilitating, and for others, no symptoms at all.

If you have many symptoms, write in a journal, or make a note on your phone of when you are having these symptoms, diet, sleep and exercise routine, stress levels, etc as there could be a pattern. Also, great to go armed with this information if you have to seek help from your doctor.

Take A Pause Regularly

Resting, relaxation, plenty of sleep are all great to help your overall emotional and mental state. Yes, this means sitting down and doing nothing, not something many of us are comfortable doing. We live in a culture where doing is praised, while just being is seen as being lazy which is nonsense. Taking breaks throughout the day, creating a momentary pause will make all the difference as it is an excellent opportunity to check in with yourself.

How am I feeling right now?

Do I need to eat or drink something?

Do I need to slow down?

Am I blowing this out of proportion?

Do I need to worry about this now?

Can I put this off until tomorrow?

All these questions and plenty more will give you a moment to check to see if you are on the right track, and if you are not, you will have the opportunity right there to adjust if you wish to. If you do not do this, you could be left feeling stressed and exhausted because you did not see the warning signs early on.

Give yourself permission to do this regularly and say YES to yourself!

What Am I Thinking?

We have 50–70k thoughts a day; most of those thoughts were the same as yesterday as we are habitual. Important to know this as this is where you have power. Knowing where your mind is taking you will help to manage your emotions as they are interlinked. Although, I would like to chip in here and say that if you suffer from a chemical imbalance, what you are thinking will become irrelevant, or it could be a mixture of both which is often the case. If this is the case, please seek professional medical help.

We are wired for negativity, so becoming self-aware and getting to know this amazing woman is essential. Become curious about why you get upset with certain things? How do you respond when things do not go your way? Are you constantly worrying about the future — the what-ifs? Are you continually judging the way you look? All these are clues, and once you have more awareness, you will be able to choose — spend your day moaning or groaning, feeling a victim, or take your power back and make a different choice?

Without awareness, you do not have a choice

Begin with baby steps and go from there

Many people find this challenging and not an opportunity to judge the way you think. Be kind to you

What I Can Control

You may have figured out by now that you can not control very much, and this includes people — as much as we would like to. We cannot control the weather, economy, or how someone else will respond. The only thing we have control over entirely is how we respond.

Let us take a look at a simple example; you are in a traffic jam — you have an important meeting to get to or a friend you have not seen in ages.

Your options — you could have a meltdown — you could swear — you could moan and groan and worry. All these outcomes are possible, and I have indeed responded like this on far too many occasions.

Or you could accept this as there is nothing you can do and listen to a podcast, or music and convert this annoyance. Self-power is the way to go; if you accept and transform this situation, you will not be left feeling anxious, stressed or concerned. Instead, you will be left feeling in control and calm — this is where you have power.

If you are able to see that any time life does not go to plan, you can turn it around; nothing much will phase you. If you are sceptical, be open to this possibility. Start small, and the more you do this, the more you will strengthen your mental muscles (no different to going down the gym and improving your physical strength).

Reduce Negativity

Generally, when you are menopausal, your tolerance levels will drop, and even a person breathing in your direction could set you off! This is why reducing negativity is vital for your mental and emotional health. In fact, we should have always done this! News, social media, some tasks and people will drain you. Becoming aware of how you feel is essential.

If you scroll your social media feed, let’s say Facebook or Instagram, does it leave you feeling energised or drained? Watching or reading the news, does it leave you feeling energised or drained? Certain people?

These are all clues to what things you can do to help keep your energy levels high. The more you do the things that energise you, the better your energy levels will be throughout the day and this will improve the way you feel. The way you feel affects your behaviours and will impact the quality of your life.

Boundaries

The majority of us are not good at setting boundaries, we allow others to say what they like to us, and we sit there quietly, keeping the peace. Or we say yes when we would like to say no. Having boundaries is essential, and this again is where you have some control. I heard someone explain how they set boundaries around how people spoke to him. He said that if a person speaks to him in a manner which he feels is stepping over his boundary, he says if you are going to continue to talk like this to me, then I must leave as I do not allow anyone to speak to me the way you’re speaking to me right now. What I loved was his tone, very controlled and had no anger or ego in there.

Do you struggle to say no? Find it difficult to let other people down? Do your relationships tend to be dramatic or difficult? Do you feel resentful? Are you envious of other people’s directness? These are all clues you may lack boundaries, and like with anything start small.

If you are always saying yes and helping out, then start by saying no on occasions. It may not be easy at first but the more you do this the easier it will become.

Next Step

All these strategies I have mentioned will allow you to get some control back and begin to thrive during menopause, and also change other areas of your life for the better.

Remember do not fear this time, embrace it and choose to make this the best time of your life. There is no time better than right now to make a change.

Always seek professional medical advice if you need further help or support

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ICF Certified Coach / Mindset Expert / Mental Fitness Coach / Writer / helping stressed-out female executives to thrive during the menopause years

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Teresa Townsend

ICF Certified Coach / Mindset Expert / Mental Fitness Coach / Writer / helping stressed-out female executives to thrive during the menopause years