As women over 50, many of us have likely gone through, are going through, or are about to go through the stages of menopause. A compulsory part of being a woman, many fear menopause or treat it as taboo. However, it’s important for us to look at it how it is – as a natural, normal stage in our lives. There are things we can do to ensure that this stage is more comfortable and that our transition through menopause is easy for both us and those around us.
Before we look into these things, we must mention that the best thing you can do for yourself as you enter this transition is to discuss it with your doctor. Your GP will be able to address any specific concerns and help you with the most appropriate course of action for your body. We’re all very different, and while managing menopause can be done in a variety of ways, tailoring parts of your approach with your medical practitioner is always a good idea.
Stress is normal, but when we’re going through a hormonal change stress can get in the way of our day-to-day function. During our change, we may find that we’re overwhelmed for no real reason and it’s important to take moments of pause. Easing your reaction to stress can be done in a variety of ways; yoga, meditation, and deep breathing being some practical methods, while a hot bath, a glass of wine, or simply time with a book could be better suited to you. If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to breathe in slowly and deeply for a count of five seconds, hold that breath gently for another five, and then release for five seconds. Do this five times over in order to help you find the space to truly relax again.
One of the worst parts of menopause are the hot flushes. They’re not comfortable by any stretch of the imagination, especially during the Australian summer. If you know you’re going through menopause, try to keep a cool water bottle handy. A hand fan or a battery-operated one will work a treat too – and both fit neatly into your handbag. A great trick I learned was to have a small spray bottle with me filled with water. If I had a hot flush, I’d spray my neck and use a mini battery operated fan to cool down. It works a treat! Combine this with your breathing exercises and you’ll be comfortable again quite quickly. You can also grab some cooling gels or sprays from the pharmacy, and it never hurts to sit by a window or in front of the air-conditioning.
Food and Water
Your bottle of water won’t serve to just keep you cool, it’ll also help alleviate other symptoms of menopause. You will be losing fluid during your hot flushes, and your body is going through some serious ups and downs. Water is the fluid of life and is essential to general wellbeing as well as helping keep us cool, hydrated, and in control.
When it comes to food, you should think cool too! Mediterranean types of food are excellent for menopause as they help decrease hot flushes and night sweats. High fat and sugar diets will make your transition more difficult, while a diet with a lot of vegetables, fish, and whole grains will aid the process.
Menopause can cause some foggy moments. This is a common complaint during menopause that can be confused as a result of ageing. Your best defence against memory loss or trouble is organisation. Use sticky notes, a digital calendar on your phone, a notepad, text messages … whatever works for you! If you receive new information, repeat it out loud and be sure to write it down somewhere. Don’t be afraid of only handling one project at a time. Women are famous multi-taskers, but you’re allowed to keep your focus specific. Your body is changing and keeping your mind on track will help smooth the process out.
Layers are great for menopause. Not only can you remove a layer when you get hot, but you will look stylish throughout the day too. Give yourself some freedom to move with your clothing choices during this time, and avoid textiles that don’t breathe very well. People assume we have to be frumpy at fifty (and above!) but this is simply not true. Dress for yourself and your comfort and be confident in what you are wearing. You are a woman who has gone through many life stages and this is but one of many. Celebrate with your outfits – and your comfort and confidence in them!
Unfortunately, excess weight magnifies the symptoms of menopause. Fortunately, exercise aids the symptoms, so getting and staying healthy is a great way to smooth out this stage of life! Working out will also help you sleep better, reduce stress, and alleviate your mood. Watching what you eat and drink, along with ditching any smoking habits, will go a long way in managing menopause too. This will also put you ahead for the later stages of life, getting your body fit and ready for a long and healthy path ahead.
Sleep is also a crucial part of menopause management. Many women report difficulty sleeping during this stage of life, so know you are not alone. Avoid large meals late at night, put your electronics away in the hours leading to bedtime, and try to maintain a normal sleep schedule. There are also some nifty cooling pillows that you can buy at bedding stores that are an absolute lifesaver if you suffer from night sweats.
Menopause is a time of great change, and can also be a time of mourning too. As adult women, we get so used to our bodies being a certain way. Many of us have had children and become used to a state of ‘normalcy’ with our being. When this changes, we can feel a sense of loss, lack of control, and even guilt. Confiding in friends and family is wonderful, but sometimes we need an extra ear and someone who can offer advice on how best to manage our worst moments. There are a plethora of products out there to help manage the symptoms of menopause, and there are many psychologists who are present to help with the mental strain too. Physical symptoms are easy, but the psychology can run a lot deeper and last a lot longer. Address it as part of how you alleviate your menopause symptoms and you’ll find that this stage of your life becomes a lot easier.
Menopause is normal, it’s natural, and it’s part of who we are as women. Your doctor can guide you through what you will expect physically and mentally during this time. Be sure to keep friends and family close and take moments to celebrate your femininity and your life! Women go through many stages in life and this is one of them. Managing menopause is part of the package. Be sure to stay in touch with your medical professional and receive tailored treatment for your specific needs. Take some time to be comfortable, confident, and in charge of your change!