The menopause is still something of a taboo subject for many people. Shrouded in mysterious language like, ‘The Change’, there are misconceptions and misunderstandings about just how this life event could affect us. Some women sail through with very few difficulties, but for others it can be a very challenging time. Menopause can cause changes in your body shape, mood swings, hot flashes, skin breakouts, aches and pains, ‘brain fog’ and tiredness. Pile these on top of your normal everyday tasks and worries, and this can be a stressful and painful time for many of us. The more we talk about it, the more we can help others understand what’s going on for their friends, their mothers, their sisters and their colleagues.
We thought we’d apply our slow living philosophy to thinking about the menopause, and offer simple suggestions that might help relieve some of the symptoms. Obviously, we aren’t offering medical advice, but there are lifestyle changes you can make to ease the transition and to support any other treatments you choose to have.
Invest in linen bedlinen
Sleep problems are common amongst perimenopausal and menopausal women. Interruptions to sleep patterns can be caused by the fluctuations in your hormones, needing to go to the toilet more frequently, stress and night sweats. To help keep your body temperature stable invest in some good quality pure linen bedlinen. This natural fabric allows your skin to breathe, and will wick away moisture from your body, which might buy you a few precious hours more sleep. As well as sorting out your bedlinen, make sure you don’t eat late at night as this can interfere with sleep. Banish screens from the bedroom and try to keep to a regular sleep schedule.
Take time out
If you feel overwhelmed or exhausted try to build a bit of time away from things into your day. Whether that’s taking your lunch outside and feeling the sun on your face or going for an evening walk, a few minutes spent in nature and away from work/ family/ duties can help clear your head. Go on a date with yourself, somewhere fun and special and different.
If you find that shifting hormones have left you forgetful and feeling scattered, try making a list last thing at night. Fill it with all the things you need to do the following day, along with anything you feel worried about. That way you can check back in the morning and add any extra tasks, as well as getting anxieties out of your head so you can sleep more peacefully. Give yourself a back-up by writing things down so you don’t have to rely on remembering everything and then beating yourself up when you don’t.
It really helps to share how you’re feeling, whether you’re struggling with coming to the end of your fertile years, or simply feeling weepy. Talk to friends, reach out for advice, and if things are tough go and see your doctor. Other women may be going through exactly the same things as you, or may have advice and experience of different treatments. It will make you feel less alone, and you might be able to help someone else too.
Many women find they put on weight during the menopause. Some are fine with this, but for others it can be tricky to see your body changing. Stay healthy by eating regular, small meals packed with vegetables and fruit. Exercise to keep your bones strong and ease any muscle tension – yoga is great for gently building strength and toning when our muscles begin to lose their definition. Vitamin supplements have been said to help relieve some menopause symptoms and replenish nutrients in the body.
Choose loose, breathable clothes
If you are experiencing annoying and embarrassing hot flashes, keep your clothing loose and unrestrictive. Stick to natural fibres like linen that will help stabilise your body temperature and dry quickly if they do become sweaty. Try to work out your trigger points for hot flashes, like alcohol or spicy food, and avoid these if possible. Keep a cold bottle of water nearby to cool you down. Breathe slowly and deeply, and try not to panic if you feel yourself sweating as stress can exacerbate things. Try this breathing technique to help calm your mind if you feel a hot flash starting: breathe in for a count of four, hold for four, breathe out for four, hold for four. Then repeat until you feel more relaxed.
These simple lifestyle tweaks should help relieve some of the common symptoms of menopause. If you are experiencing severe symptoms or struggling to cope then seek medical help.
Do you have any tips on how to have a happier menopause? We’d love to hear from you.