The menopause can be a challenging and sensitive time for a lot of women and confusing for those around them who are not going through the same emotional rollercoaster. Having embarked on the journey myself I can certainly say, from first hand experience, that it’s a disruptive time to say the least!
For women who experience emotional and psychological symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, poor concentration and low self-esteem, it can have a big impact on their mental health. Thankfully, we live in an age where the stigma attached to many mental health issues is being addressed. Some people, however, still find it difficult to talk about the menopause. The result of silence, embarrassment and lack of understanding about the menopause in relationships can have far reaching consequences.
Menopause is not just ladies’ business, it is everyone’s business and having the confidence to be able to talk about it in a constructive and positive way can help everyone. The sensitivity and mood swings that sometimes manifest from experiencing the menopause can be an upsetting and confusing time for everyone.
Encouraging open conversations and having the courage and confidence to be able to talk to partners, family members, friends and work colleagues will help everyone who is involved.
All charities get a special discount to Liggy’s BiteSized book on the Menopause – perfect for sharing amongst your workforce.
Find out more on our website here.
According to a recent report by the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) for every 10 women experiencing menopausal symptoms, six say it has a negative impact on their work. As with any mental health challenge there needs to be support.
Menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in the workplace and make such a highly valuable contribution to the rich diversity of every organisation. There are so many compelling reasons for supporting menopausal women and the taboo needs to be lifted – so lets start talking and supporting.
Here are a few questions you may have about the menopause. Please note that the suggestions given here do not replace any advice given by your doctor.
Should I take HRT?
Most symptoms of the menopause are caused by the reduction of oestrogen and progesterone. Taking in sources of these hormones can reduce the sudden reduction and therefore reduce some of the symptoms. There are many different types of HRT available including tablets, skin patches, gels and creams.
The general advice with HRT is to take the lowest dose for the shortest time possible due to cardiovascular and breast cancer risks. This is something your doctor will be able to advise you about. It’s important if you do take HRT that you have regular mammograms and be extra vigilant about checking your breasts.
How do I manage my weight?
Due to hormonal changes the rate at which the body needs energy may be reduced and therefore the body needs fewer calories. If this happens then reducing the amount of calories you normally eat will be help you to avoid weight gain. This won’t necessarily be a huge amount, however making sure your food choices are filling and high in nutrients will make this much less noticeable and easier to accommodate. Increasing your level of exercise will also help you to keep on top of your weight management.
How do I manage my diet?
Eating a healthy balanced diet containing plenty of protein, low starch vegetables and fruit is a great way to fuel a menopausal body. Drastic dieting is unlikely to be helpful, and it is not good for your body in the longer term.
Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is a much more effective and healthier option. A little bit of what you fancy and some occasional treats is fine. Be mindful, however, of sugar cravings that may well propel you towards the biscuit tin and choose a little bit of dark chocolate as a sweet treat alternative.
How can exercise help?
Exercise is the most effective way of burning calories. It’s helpful to get regular physical activity, including cardiovascular and weight-bearing resistance exercises. These can all help combat the reduction in bone density and keep your heart healthy and improve posture. When you go through the menopause, your muscle mass naturally decreases, causing you to gain weight. Toning your muscles is a more effective way of keeping the weight off than crash dieting because muscle is more effective at burning calories than fat. Swimming, cycling and walking are all very beneficial and also great for stimulating the production of endorphins and can help you to boost your mood.
How do I feel more confident about myself?
Accepting and being positive about your body is a big part of being able to embrace the menopause. This can be challenging in a culture that seems to value youthful looks and unrealistic role models. The inevitability of grey hairs, weight gain and wrinkles can make women feel unattractive and even have a negative effect on their self-esteem.
One of the most attractive qualities is being confident and comfortable in your own skin. No human being is perfect and focusing on positive qualities and making the best and most of what you have is far more helpful. This applies to everyone. It’s worth remembering that feeling beautiful has nothing to do with what you look like – beauty radiates from within.
Why is humour during the menopause important?
A great tonic to help everyone through the menopausal journey is being able to seek out humour. Laughter has so many great health benefits and can help to diffuse intense situations and also create a sense of perspective. Even in the most challenging situations it can really help to seek out the funny side, even if you don’t feel like it. Having a good laugh can decrease stress hormones and also increase immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain, as well as have a very positive effect on emotional wellbeing and mental health.
The menopause is a natural part of the female journey and is ultimately nature’s way of looking after a woman throughout her life cycle. It’s a transient experience and this time will pass so accepting and embracing the menopause with a positive mindset is key. Nobody has to feel alone because this is something that affects everyone in one way or the other. Like any other mental health challenge it can really help to openly communicate how others can help and support. We can learn so much from the challenges we experience in life and in many ways they help us to become stronger, wiser and more resilient.
Liggy Webb’s BiteSized book ‘Menopause’ cost £2.00 each (plus vat and postage) when purchased via the Charity Learning Consortium* – a discount of £1 per book. An up to date range of titles can be seen on the Learning Architect website, with online samples of each book. Want to find out more? Get in touch with our team on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 08451 707 702.
*Terms and conditions apply. Please speak to one of the Charity Learning Consortium team for more information.