Menopause is a time that requires awareness, compassion and more than a little TLC. Below are some thoughts to ponder about how that might look for you.
1) Make a plan for YOU
Self-care could mean ensuring you make the time for your physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Often women are caregivers for their children or spouse or aging parents while they’re going through menopause.
With the many changes in our bodies during menopause it’s very important to shift some of the focus of care taking to ourselves. What does this look like? Perhaps 10 minutes a day for meditation or journaling, a nice bath or taking time to meet a girlfriend. Finding time to just BE without the to-do list staring you down is like hitting the re-set button…everything else is easier to manage.
What is your favorite self-care strategy?
2) I need a mental health minute!
Self-care in the midst of mid-life is having a positive mindset, sleeping well, exercising, looking after physical and mental health needs, and eating healthily to give the body a chance to deal with the many changes we experience.
This requires being honest with oneself, dealing with the stresses in life, creating new habits and prioritizing some “me time” to pursue hobbies and engaging in calming activities such as meditation or receiving acupuncture. When we slow our roll, our minds get a much needed break from the noise of life and the nervous system gets a re-set. Think on this the next time you have a quiet minute: “Don't you know Yet? It is your light that lights the World.” Rumi
3) Give me a break
Perhaps the most helpful thing we can do for ourselves in the category of ‘self-care’ is to speak up for ourselves and our needs without apology. For example, if we need time alone for a break from family, don’t bring any guilt with you into that time. Enjoy it, relish it and return to others with a more centered and refreshed spirit.
Also, it is a major gift of this time of life to be confident in our ability to say no if we feel the demands on our time and life are creating unnecessary stress. Realizing that we don’t have to show up to every request and not feeling obligated to help someone else feel comfortable with that decision is extremely freeing.
It’s really ok to just BE. No explanation, no regrets, no guilt.
4) It’s the little things…
A patient of mine recently shared her strategy for self care while she is on her journey through the menopause transition.
“Daily self-care routines are a game changer for me. Walking, following a clean and healthy eating program, meditation and learning to say ‘no’ to more chores and ‘yes’ to a short nap are all on my list. I also try to spend as much time as possible with my grandchildren and girlfriends for a positive energy charge! Acupuncture and massage have been hugely helpful for reducing hot-flashes and maintaining emotional balance at this point in my life.”
Here’s a quick breathing practice to incorporate into your daily routine:
At bedtime get into your favorite sleep position and bring your awareness to your breath. In your normal breathing pace count to 4 on the in-breath, hold for 2, count to 6 on the out-breath, hold for 2. Repeat for as long as you wish. This calms the nervous system, allowing relaxation and better sleep.
5) It’s going to be ok
Let’s change the story about menopause… It is a normal life transition (not a life sentence), just as getting your first period was a natural event.
The changes of menopause can be intense and overwhelming at times and may seem never-ending. And this can make it feel as though you’ll never be ‘normal’ again. But you will. Once actual menopause is reached (that is 12 consecutive months without a period) not only will most women feel ‘normal’ again but may even have a renewed sense of self and life energy.
There can be some sadness and feelings of loss during menopause as it signals that our youth is behind us. But seriously, will you really miss the monthly cycles and all that accompany those cycles? Think of how liberating this time can become! Embracing the years following menopause can lead to some of the happiest and most fulfilling years in a woman’s life.
I encourage women to embrace these years with passion and purpose!
6) Who is on your team?
It IS possible to feel great in peri-menopause, menopause and post-menopause if you get the help you need and deserve.
Self-care is looking after your needs on all levels of your being; mental, emotional, spiritual and physical. It’s not necessary to wait until you have something ‘wrong’ with you to justify a regimen of self-care. Think of it as if you are taking care of your best friend and you want her to be happy and healthy for the rest of her life.
Regular acupuncture and body work, counseling and nutritional therapy are all tools available for you to call on during this time of transition. Find those that specialize in mid-life transition and ask questions, seek resources and call on them to be on your menopause management team. Who do you have on your team?