Whether you are at the start, middle or end of your menopausal journey, one thing is true, this is a new phase of life. A change in hormones affects how we feel inside, about ourselves and our lives. In this blog I will suggest how you can transform challenges into new opportunities to step out and shine. Life is for living!
My journey begins
Earlier this year my confidence just seemed to fade away. I was able to function, do my work, socialise and get about, but I felt empty inside. My confident-self had drained away and I couldn’t understand why or how? Some nights I was hot and sweaty, was that me or was it just a bit warm this summer? What was going on with my body?
These are symptoms of the perimenopause caused by changes in hormone levels. Feeling low, cross and irritated, irrationally angry, rage or upbeat and then low are all symptoms some women experience. Now I recognise them as such, they are no longer bewildering and overwhelming. Feeling relaxed and happy with myself and my current stage in life is very important. I accept that this is a natural process and welcome the transition. Being open, letting it flow easily rather than resisting it.
But still the challenges are out there and my feeling of a complete lack of self-confidence was very real. How did I get through it? I accepted that this was some sort of temporary feeling that had no external reason. This analysis helped me feel better, it was just a matter of step by step, getting back to the whole me. The way I did this was simple. I listened to my body and set myself some great fun goals to work towards. I didn’t push, I just let myself move towards them.
Being very busy at work, the pressures of running a home and finding time to fit in family, friends etc. can mean a residual level of stress in your body. If you are stressed, your body is already challenged. Reducing your stress allows your body to cope with things in a more natural and flexible way. Taking time out for yourself, sitting and reading a book in bed, enjoying your garden or walking in nature can help you feel less stressed. Self-care is important, it’s not a nasty self-indulgence as some people think, it de-escalates things, allows us to regain our equilibrium and our strength. This is a crucial step; you need to get your footing right. Prioritise yourself.
Yoga is a wonderful way to let the stress drain from your body. Find a teacher that works in a way that suits you. I like to listens to my body, doing what it needs in the yoga session. Ask around to find a good yoga teacher, that’s fun to be around. You can’t banish stress if it feels serious and strict. Meditation, massage and acupuncture can also provide relief from stress and lift your mood.
Emotions can sweep us off into an internal storm. Being mindful (awareness) of what you are doing at each moment in time can often help you feel relaxed and better able to manage mood changes. Be conscious of your body and how it feels from the inside. Notice what you are doing and how if feels on your body, on the outside. It’s a way of linking back to the real and not getting swept out-of-control by an emotional tornado. Notice the little things, the smell of a beautiful rose, focus on its delicate beauty and incredible colour. You can delicately touch its petals. Use all your senses to notice and feel what you are doing in the moment.
Living in the moment
The past is done, there’s nothing you can do to change it. The future is the future, you can’t control it. What you do in the present moment is all that matters. When you live in the moment, you are completely present for your friends and family, which is the greatest gift you can give. You notice more, life is richer. Living in the moment, can reduce anxiety levels because you don’t worry about the past or future events.
Lots of laughter
You choose what you do with your time. Doing something that makes you laugh will make you will feel closer to others. Giggle therapy is just so good for you and it stimulates your immune system. I feel so much better after a good belly laugh. I went to see Russel Howard in Leeds and was laughing uncontrollably at one point in his show. I came out feeling lighter, and the laughter didn’t end there as we were sharing funny stories from our own lives after the show. Choose to hang out with good positive people that make you laugh.
Keep in touch
My friends are also noticing their bodies changing. Being able to share our experiences of life and our bodies is important. This social support stops us feeling isolated. It’s important to have others to go to in times of need. Pick your friends wisely, you don’t want drama and negativity. Solid individuals who know, that this too will pass, willing to just listen, understand and who believe in your ability to cope.
How you think about the menopause influences how you experience it. Studies show that negative beliefs held prior to the menopause can be predictive of a more difficult time. For instance, the more catastrophic your thoughts about hot flushes, the more intense they will be. How you feel about yourself and your life is crucial. If you’re over the hill and past it, as a Western culture obsessed with youth and beauty may have you believe, you feel there’s no hope. But Chinese women described menopause as, “wisdom and maturation,” “a symbol of achievement,” and “a time to start enjoying life.” They’re just starting to get into the stride of life. They don’t experience as many negative symptoms of the menopause as western women. Choose your thoughts and think positively. The best is yet to come.
Keep a diary of things each day that bring a sense of joy and make you smile. Its best if you can do this before you go to sleep and set your mind thinking positive thoughts. You will start to think more positively, looking each day, for the good things you are going to write down in your journal. Your life will become much happier as you focus on the good things each day, negativity slips away.
Not all women report feeling negative effects of the menopause. Zoe Ball even has some advice for other women who are going through “the change”… Have more sex!
See this as a transitional phase, it is the adolescence of older age but better than adolescence of youth because menopausal women have confidence and experience. This is a time of choice and should really be about finding out what you really want. Now is the time to take charge and shape the remaining chapters of your life.
Find a couple of pages in your journal, and title them “To Do List”. Next, think about some things you’d like to do in the future. There’s lots to live for and enjoy doing. Write them in a list and tick them off as you do them. You can buy some beautiful underwear, go on a course, visit somewhere new – whatever excites and challenges you, write is down. This is a time for exploring who you are and connecting to your inner wisdom.
New opportunities, new challenges
This third phase of our lives enables us to look inwards. As infants we look outwards learning about the world and ourselves. In the mother phase we nurture and create, giving ourselves and our time to others. Now is a time for self-development and inner work. Your “To Do List” should have challenges that allow you to try new things, test out new hobbies or interests. Physical challenges that push you a little further. Maybe, like myself, you’ve been wanting to do something for a while and haven’t got around to it yet. Pop it on your list.
I’ve wanted to walk The West Highland Way ever since I heard about it. This summer I made the time to do the 96 miles. It wasn’t until I was walking on day two, did I really feel in my heart, what a great gift this was to myself. This act of self-love, time for me in nature, doing something I love – walking and exploring, it was simple and yet so profound. It was a key moment, filling up the empty space inside I’d been feeling. I gave myself time to think, to be and regain my feeling of self-confidence because it was time to just know me again, no distractions.
This is a transition phase, an opportunity to become who you are meant to be. To do this you need to push out of your comfort zone and develop in to the new you. Whatever your challenge, prioritise time for it. A long-distance walk, canoeing in the wilderness or cycling in North Wales, make time for a journey into yourself. If you want support and guidance to plan your journey, sign up to Adventurous Spirit. Whether you are travelling near or far, go on that inner journey and step into your power.
I’m developing a new course designed to help you navigate the emotionally roller coaster of menopause – you can read more and register your interest today – Wisdom Queens