Why 51 Tips? There are 51 wellbeing tips as 51 is the average age of the menopause! The menopause happens to every women, we don’t know when exactly, but it’s usually when you are too young and too busy to deal with it!
The menopause is more than hot flushes and night sweats. It can shake up many aspects of your life including how you feel about yourselves and getting older. It can make you reflective of how and why you do things the way that you do and if that needs to change to help you age with attitude!
If you haven’t looked after yourself well in the past, it comes back to bite you here. Putting self-care firmly on your to-do list. Not just exercise and activity, but how you eat and manage your stress levels.
The below tips are not meant to add to your to-do list but as a means for you to think about what you are putting up with, what symptoms you can influence by your lifestlye and what you can change!
Having cheerleaders during the menopause can help smooth this phase of transition with ease. If you feel like you are on your own during this time can often magnify your symptoms. Conversely having a support team around you can help to ease your transition
1. Find a doctor who is sympathetic and does not dismiss symptoms as ‘just getting older’. A good doctor will take you through all the options available taking into account your medical history.
2. It may surprise you to know your partner is not psychic and they may not know very much about the menopause! Take them out for a drink, sit them down and tell them what’s happening to your body, how it makes you feel and how you would like them to support you at this time.
3. Friends, family and work colleagues: hopefully you will find someone amongst this group who will be supportive and a good listener. They don’t need to have solutions for you just to understand any frustrations the menopause may bring.
4. Alternative medicines and therapies can bring relief to menopausal symptoms. Acupuncture is well known to help hot flushes. Always check with your doctor first as natural remedies may interfere with any medication you are currently taking. Find a good therapist and make regular appointments rather than waiting for things to get really bad and expecting them to work miracles!
5. Online groups can offer support in quite a different way. You often will never meet people in online groups but they may be able to offer support in quite a different way to your friends and family. It’s private and discreet which may suit you better.
Balancing Hormones is a well used term. However during the transition of the menopause when hormones start to lower it’s how much of each hormone there is compared to another one that often causes the imbalance. Finding a sense of equilibrium can be challenging.
6. If you google menopause you will be told quickly that it is an estrogen deficiency and you should start taking soya supplements. This is a very simplistic view. You can be estrogen deficient and estrogen dominate (in respect to progesterone levels) at the same time so adding extra soya may increase your symptoms not reduce them. Know where you are and speak to your doctor before adding supplements!
7. Sleep is the ultimate in hormone balancing. It is so under used. Often I think to our fast paced society who like to burn the candle at both ends. In bed by 10pm and sleep for 8 hours. Repeat regularly for best results. If you have trouble sleeping, put it to the top of your list of priorities!
8. Exercise and activity can help balance hormones. Sometimes it is restorative exercise we need such as leisurely walking and Hatha Yoga which are beneficial to reducing stress hormones. Other times strength training is required. Raising our testoerone levels can help keep our waist from expanding during the menopause.
9. There are some foods which help the body get rid of excess hormones. Dark green leafy vegetables fall into this category: spinach, kale and broccoli. Eat daily if you can.
10. Today’s lifestyles have introduced a man-made estrogen into our bodies which can also impact hormone balancing. It can be found in plastics. It is important to reduce storing and cooking food in plastics. Chose plastic products which are labelled as BPA free.
How to lift your mood
Lowering estrogen levels can also cause happy hormones Serotonin, GABA and Dopamine to fall. It can easily take you to ‘grumpy old women’ status if you are not too careful. There are some easy ways to help lift your mood and put a spring in your step
11. Music can change your mood in seconds. A song from your school days can take you straight back to your teenage years! Create a play list of happy upbeat songs that you can’t help singing to and dancing to as well! We all have mobile phones that can play music, so even if you are at work you can pop to the ladies room, put your earplugs in and be instantly transported to a better mood!
12. The happy hormone oxytocin is released when we hug. Find someone you like and hug them – a lot! It can help change your mood.
13. Food and drink is tricky as it can be addictive for some. However if you are happy with portion control. An expensive glass of wine savoured or a few pieces of luxurious melt in the mouth dark chocolate can lift your mood.
14. Movement is incredibly effective in lifting your mood. A walk in the park soaking in nature or perhaps your favourite exercise class. It is odd that if you are in an off mood you rarely feel like exercising, but you feel so much better once you have!
15. Laughter lifts a mood quickly. Whether it’s a rom-com or your favourite tv show. The Big Bang Theory never fails to make me laugh.
There is a big difference in having an off day and being depressed. The later is a serious condition and you should always seek medical help if you need it.
Making heathy food choices
Combine our abundance of food with marketing and it becomes a struggle to make a decision about what is the ‘healthiest’ food to eat. Get into the habit of reading food labels to make an informed choice.
16. Start of with the ingredients list. They are listed by quantity, highest to lowest. Aim for less than five ingredients to ensure the product is not too heavily processed.
17. Check the portion size to the size of the product. It is easy to inadvertently eat double the calories because of how the ‘serving size’ is displayed on the product.
18. Aim for less than 10g per 100g of sugar in the product.
19. Sugar also known as dextrose, fructose, glucose, maltose and sucrose.
20. Aim for less than 6g of salt a day.
Creating a healthy plate of food
There is a lot of contradictory information about what’s a healthy plate. So let’s keep it simple:
21. Fill half the plate with vegetables. A rainbow of colours!
22. Use your fist as a rough measurement for protein size
23. We become more sensitive to starch aka carbs during the menopause years so finding the sweet spot of reducing carbs but not too much that your energy levels or sleep are effected
24. How much fat you need is also a personal preference. It aids with helping you to feel full.
25. Have a look at the big picture. What are you having to drink? Are you having any bread? Both may contain starches so you may inadvertently be having more carbs than you think!
What to do when you are stuck
There often comes a point during the menopause when it feels like everything you try doesn’t work (usually eat less, exercise more) and you feel stuck:
26. Take a break. You may be more stressed than you think and your body is struggling to recover from your workout sessions or all the running about you are doing. If you are a regular exerciser take a break if you can or change to more restorative activities like Hatha Yoga
27. If you are consistently sticking to your diet. Mix it up and increase the cheat meals for a few weeks and see how it feels.
28. Sleep more. Get to be earlier and sleep later when you can
29. Walk more. Leisurely walking is renowned to help lower stress levels. Ensure its leisurely and not power walking. Walk in parks and green space for bonus points!
30. Build in ME time. Doesn’t have to be an expensive spa day. Little and often works well too. Whatever you enjoy doing that relaxes you. Repeat often!
Health is ease not effort
Diets usually fail because you are taking on someone else’s preferences and lifestyle. Superimposing it on your own and seeing if it fits. A healthy lifestyle is one that is easy for you to slot into your life. There is little effort required. Make simple, small changes that last a lifetime.
Some examples would be:
31. Have an extra glass of water than you usually do
32. Grab a piece of fruit to snack on while you are buying your morning coffee
33. Take the long way to meeting rooms and take the stairs where you can
34. Be a fidget and don’t stay seated at your desk for long periods of time
35. Go to bed 10 mins earlier than you usually do
Tracking and planning
There is a time and a place for tracking and planning. It is useful when something is not working out and you can’t see a pattern or if you are creating a new habit and it’s not as easy as you thought.
36. At the early stages of your menopause you may be able to see a pattern and track your symptoms and how it relates to your period and cycle. A period tracker or an app is useful for this. Our focus is on change, how is this different to a year ago or 5 years ago? Are you suddenly getting PMS symptoms again?
37. At some point the rhythm of your cycle may be lost. Post menopause is 12 months without a period. Obviously during this 12 months a period tracker is not helpful. An old fashioned journal (or an online one) is useful for anything note worthy or anything that has changed.
38. Planning your food and food shopping for the week is a useful way to ensure you have a balanced diet with a wide range of different food groups within that week. When we are busy we tend to go on autopilot and chose the easiest options which may not have the variety we need.
39. There is nothing like keeping a food diary for focusing your mind on what you are eating. It will often show how you feel about your eating habits as well if you are writing them down and showing them to someone. Are you making excuses or proud or how you have eating over the week. Food diaries are not sustainable as they are time consuming. Personally I’m more interested in ‘finger foods’. When you eat with your finger it’s a bit like buying something on your credit card. You forget about it until the statement comes in! It’s often where my clients have lapsed and they didn’t notice it as they are focusing on big meals.
40. Evernote is one of my favourite apps. It for taking notes as you might have guessed! I have it on my phone as well as laptop. It’s sync’s when there is a network connection. It’s really easy to use and I have my shopping list on it as well as work stuff and anything I want to remember. The version on my laptop connects to my email so I can send email directly to my Evernote which is also handy.
Having a declutter is one of the most satisfying things you can do although, you have to be in the right mood for it. It’s out with the old, in order to make space for the new you. The menopause is about transformation. So let’s makes some space for the new!
41. Clothes. We all have the same wardrobe with varying sizes in it, just in case! Declutter your clothes keeping only what you are enjoying wearing now. It’s all about the present, not the past or the future either. What makes you feel good to wear now? How’s your underwear drawer? Only have underwear that you are proud to wear, get rid of anything that has past it’s best.
42. Routine. Most of our routines have evolved over decades often based on our partners, children, work priorities and gym classes. We often keep the same routines long after the reason for doing it has passed. If you could design your week from fresh what you keep and what would you stop?
43. Bedroom. Create a haven to sleep in and move out anything that doesn’t belong in your bedroom. Sleep is one of the most important aspects of wellbeing. Do everything you can to ensure a good night’s sleep.
44. Food. Have a rummage in your cupboards and freezer. Throw out anything that’s out of date. Also check the labels and see if it’s something you want to eat on a daily basis or move it to an occasional treat
45. Workout. Are you doing the same workout as a decade ago? Try a new class or have a session from a Personal Trainer or Pilates Teacher to add a new and updated vibe to your workout.
46. Digital. Sit down and go through your inbox and unsubscribe to anything that no longer servers you. Get rid of any old emails you don’t need to keep, archive off the ones you do. If you are on any social media, declutter any groups that don’t have a positive impact on your wellbeing!
Stress & Goldilocks
We become more sensitive to stress through the menopausal years. Stress stores fat on the abdomen, so it becomes something we are generally quite motivated to help reduce!
Stress is not a bad thing; our bodies are very efficient at dealing with life threatening situations. Running away or fighting helps burn off the stress hormones created by our bodies. However we are rarely in a life threatening situation. We do have work deadlines, traffic jams, bad internet connections and so on which are stressful but we do nothing to spend the energy we have created.
Goldilocks if you remember from the tale was looking for porridge that was ‘just right’. Finding your own perfect amount of stress to keep going but not too much that it depletes you! Some examples of everyday stresses to be managed are:
47. Eating too much or too little. Dieting or fasting can be as stressful on the body as overeating
48. Exercising too much or too little. Your body needs movement. Too much will cause injuries, tiredness and compensatory food eating. Too little can cause ill health
49. Toxins in the body can come from alcohol, prescription drugs, and the food that you eat. If you regularly drink alcohol ensure you have alcohol free days. When you can, eat organic foods.
50. Burning the candle at both ends. Sleep is one of you basic foundations of wellbeing. Everyone has different optimum levels. Ensure you are getting what you need and not just what your partner needs!
51. Running perpetually late usually mean you are harassed and probably a bit unprepared for your appointment. I made the decision a few years ago to always be mega early and therefore calm. Very helpful if you teach Yoga classes!
Samantha Valand is the author of “The Menopause Diaries: A practical guide to healthy eating and exercising in your menopausal years”.
You can find out more about her book here.
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