The hot flashes, the night sweats, the constant battle with the scale … yes, menopause can be all sorts of rude. And, that’s being kind. Day in and day out, you’re asking yourself: When am I going to get hit by a hot flash truck? When are my hormones going to send me on a rage fest?? Am I ever going to sleep again??? You might feel like you’re drowning in the menopausal pool of emotions. Now, I don’t want to come off as that annoying positive and nothing-is-ever-wrong-just-keep-smiling friend (no one’s really buying it anyway), but guess what? There are ways to not let menopause rule your life.
Ways to Not Let Menopause Rule Your Life
Some changes in adulthood can be gradual while others hit us out of the blue. Just when we think we’re done with all of the developmental milestones—going to college, choosing a career, parenting newborns, etc.—middle age seems to arrive out of nowhere and we’re all like, “Well, look who was late to the developmental party.” Who was the last guest to arrive? Menopause. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s time to take the menopausal bull by the horns and show her who’s boss.
1. Develop a mindset of empowerment.
Repeat this with me: There is power in positive thinking. There is power in positive thinking. There is power in positive thinking. Quick Quiz: What is their power in? That’s right, positive thinking! Just when you think that menopause has taken control of your life, that’s when you need to believe in yourself the most. You and the other 2 million people in the U.S. entering menopause this year are not alone! (How could you be alone when there are millions of you?) If you’ve gotten this far without developing an empowering mindset, then buddy, the time has come.
What’s the opposite of feeling empowered? This isn’t a trick question! The answer is feeling powerless. I don’t know about you, but feeling powerless scares the hell out of me.
I read this quote that was a big aha moment for me: “Personal empowerment is about taking control of your own life, and making positive decisions based on what you want. It’s closely linked to attributes like self-esteem and self-confidence, but true empowerment comes when you convert intention into action.”
In other words, you need to give yourself permission to succeed. And boom goes the self-improvement dynamite.
As a friendly reminder that “empowerment” is not the same as “entitlement.” People who feel entitled tend to believe that benefits and privileges should come to them automatically, while empowered people achieve success through hard work, reflection, and cooperation. To put it bluntly, empowered people are way more fun to be around than entitled people.
Not sure where to start? I’ve got your back:
- Know Yourself (or try to figure yourself out): Developing self-awareness can help you take charge of your emotions and actions.
- Identify Your Goals: Pinpoint the parts of your life that make you unhappy (or, in this case,the parts of menopause that are kicking your butt). Set realistic goals to combat this unhappiness. Create an action plan to achieve those goals. Your sense of achievement will explode as you see yourself checking off the boxes you yourself have created.
- Claim Your Space: Take your first steps to empowerment. Do those steps feel good? Are you heading in the right direction? Track how you feel, as well as take notice of what’s working. Reflect and change as necessary.
“We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.” – Steve Maraboli
Becoming more self-empowered can be a catalyst for positive and meaningful change in your life. So, BFF, it’s time to get to work and develop that mindset of empowerment. You’ve got this. And if you don’t, you will soon! That’s how empowerment works.
2. Track your symptoms daily.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: The best way to figure out if you’re going through menopause is to track yourself. Let’s face it, remembering things is getting harder and harder, right? I mean, just this morning I headed to my bedroom sure I was there to accomplish some important task, but by the time I’d arrived, I couldn’t remember what the task was!
With lots of to-dos and reminders that fill our heads on a daily basis, we can fall prey to overlooking and forgetting things. Furthermore, disregarding or simply not noticing changes in this life phase can be easy. That’s why tracking your physical and emotional symptoms in a daily log, similar to a food journal, can give you much-needed insights and clarity about your health, especially how your menopause symptoms are progressing.
Menopausal symptoms creep up and they are easy to explain away. However, if you keep a handy journal, then you’ll start to notice patterns and changes. All of a sudden the circles, dots, and squiggly lines are starting to look less like an abstract Jackson Pollack and more like an actual picture. (Not that I have anything against Jackson Pollack. Heck, with menopausal mood changes, sometimes his splattered paint feels like the most accurate expression of my soul.)
Your symptoms will paint a picture of what’s really going on with you healthwise—a picture that may be gently screaming: “You are going through the stages of menopause!” But, without keeping a menopause journal, connecting the dots may be as difficult as figuring out the true meaning behind a Jackson Pollack painting.
Regular daily tracking will help you do the following:
- Create a baseline that will help you know what to expect on your menopausal journey.
- See patterns and piece together symptoms.
- Identify which stage of menopause you are in based on how your symptoms progress.
- Understand what might be causing the symptoms.
- Teach yourself how to best manage the symptoms.
- Figure out ways to set yourself up for success so that you can overcome the symptoms.
- Establish awareness so that you can be in control of your body.
Hey! Just think, if you’re tracking, then you’ll be more aware of when it’s officially time to say, “Peace out, Aunt Flo!” Let’s not shy away from the small victories.
3. Educate yourself.
You’ve heard the word “menopause.” News (hot) flash: There’s more to menopause than a moratorium on your monthlies.
Thankfully, more and more people are talking about The Big M. which means it’s easier to get educated and prepared. And the better prepared you are (mentally and physically), the better you’ll cope with your own menopause. Heck, you might even have less of a surprise when it does happen and you might seek help sooner. Which means you’ll feel relief sooner. Score!
Here are simple things you can do to help you prepare:
Talk to your mom and/or grandmother about their menopausal journey.
Yes, it can seem taboo and they might feel uncomfortable talking about it. That’s OK! Just give them a friendly reminder that we all go through it. The easiest way to learn what might be in store for you is to talk to them. Ask them to be honest and speak from their own experience. If they’re uncomfortable doing so, try speaking to a friend’s mom or grandmother. Hey, if all else fails, this blog is your friend, and we have plenty of posts telling you what’s up.
Work on being comfortable talking about how you’re feeling.
Not one to share your feelings? We get it, you’re mysterious and alluring. But, guess what? People go through menopause. If you pent up your feelings for too long, then you’re eventually going to burst that mysteriousness in a not-so-alluring way. Share your symptoms with your doctor or a therapist. On that note, normalize speaking to a therapist about your symptoms. Mental 👏 health 👏 is 👏 health!
Look into ways to cope with how you’re feeling.
As my third grade teacher Mrs. Bengal always said, “Information is power.” Feeling a bit off? Not sure where to turn? Wondering if there are more than just pharmaceutical options? Not sure where to begin getting the information that will make you a powerful menopause master? Well, you’re not alone. Lack of information isn’t the only problem. Most people don’t receive the proper treatment for their menopausal symptoms. Sexism in medicine, much?!
- Of the 60% of women who seek medical attention, 75% of them are left untreated.
- Only 1 in 5 women in the U.S. received a referral to a menopause specialist.
- Costs can be a major barrier to uptake of hormone treatments.
- Lifestyle intervention options as a way to manage symptoms are lacking.
You deserve proper treatment and answers to your questions. Be your own advocate! The good news? Many types of treatment options are available. Let’s all let out a collective sigh of relief … ahhhhhhh … So, what are some of the treatment options?
- Hormone therapy
- Non-hormonal treatments
- Mindset (embracing body positivity
- Preventative Maintenance (e.g., exercise, eating healthy, involvement, etc.).
- Prescribed Treatment (e.g., medication like antidepressants or anxiety medications, birth control, hormone therapy, etc.)
- Non-Prescription Treatment (e.g., nutritional supplements, gels, lubricants, bio-identical treatments [things that mimic estrogen as just one example], lotion for dry skin, or other products to help aid with things [brittle nails, etc.])
- Alternative Treatment (e.g., yoga, meditation, deep breathing, etc., especially for pain management)
- Professional Treatment (e.g., talk therapy, pelvic floor specialist [to help with vaginal exercises or painful sex], intuitive eating coach, etc.)
Talking to a medical professional is as critical as the condition of the 1987 Richard Pryor film. You want to be sure you’re getting the appropriate care. Granted, it’s hard to receive proper treatment if you don’t even know what menopause is, how it starts, why it starts, and what symptoms occur. Even though getting educated and receiving proper treatment isn’t currently the norm, being in tune with your body, understanding the symptoms, and getting treatment/seeking help when you need it (or even if you think you might need it) is key to loving your life in every stage. The reading you’re doing RIGHT NOW is a great first step! Mrs. Bengal would be proud.
Keep up with your social life.
Meet up with girlfriends for lunch and make fun of the latest hot flash episode where you just about stepped into the walk-in freezer at the grocery store to cool yourself down. Cheers with your wine/mocktail glasses as you dish about the latest and greatest adventures of Aunt Flo. Walk (because walking is good exercise) to a bakery with a girlfriend and then proceed to order everything on the menu because hey, we’ve got curves and we love our beautiful bodies.
And if being in-person is too much (here’s to you, introverts and introverted extroverts), then vent via text by telling a friend, “😡,” which is shorthand for, “Menopause is really pissing me off!” I’m sure they’ll respond, “I’m right there with you.”
4. Do all the self-care possible (before, during, and after the menopausal transition).
More than any other drug on the market (OTC or doc-prescribed), self-care is the best prevention and the best cure. You know your body best, so what is going to make you feel your best (or at least as close to your best as possible)? If you don’t know where to start, here’s a laundry list of options to get you started. Don’t get overwhelmed. Hey, at least we can thank the menopausal gods for options! Ready?
- Practice yoga.
- Get regular massages.
- Start a daily gratitude journal.
- Write in a regular journal or log (bonus points if you’re a Trekkie and you begin each entry with “Captain’s Log”).
- Do deep breathing exercises.
- Consider tapping, aka psychological acupressure.
- Stock up on essential oils/supplements.
- Talk to your doctor about medicine.
- Have a good laugh or two (or 10).
- Meet up with friends and socialize.
- Get out your emotions … Etsy has plenty of adorable knitted pillows that are perfect for screaming into
- Enjoy talk therapy. (Or don ‘t enjoy it. Sometimes therapy is work, but progress takes work.)
- Find a way to keep cool (stop at the dollar store and pick up a portable fan, a gel pillow, or an ice pack … your sweat glands will thank you).
- Stay hydrated (Funny story … while I was typing, autocorrect tried to change ‘hydrated’ to “hysterical” … oh! the irony).
- Get outside and breathe in some air. (It’s not only fresh, it’s free!)
- Make mindfulness moments a regular part of your day.
- Try to get some sleep (note that I said “try” 😉).
- Stay connected with other people (#shamlessplug … but community works!).
Moral of the menopausal story? You have options. Use them to your benefit.
5. Find your Menopause Minions
Guess what? There are millions of people going through menopause at any given time. If you don’t have any close friends or family members going through it, then seek those who are. Join a private Facebook group, find a forum, or check out local meetups to find people you connect with in this very real phase of life. Start pulling together a group of friends who are going through it that you can talk to along with professionals you trust.
6. Ask for Help
Need a shoulder to cry on? Want someone to just listen instead of offering advice? Or, do you want advice? Never be afraid to ask for help. You are not in this alone. You are not the only person going through this (although, what you experience will be different than what others experience). Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong enough to take charge and find a solution. Empowermint, much? You are a strong, beautiful person who is overcoming a crazy phase of life. Make sure you voice your feelings and trust your gut. Thanks to menopausal weight gain, there will be even more of it to trust!
I just read a quote: “Gut feelings are guardian angels. Trust them.” People shouldn’t be totally steered in one direction when there are so many options. Go with your gut, trust your instincts, stand up for yourself and your feelings, and help you find what’s best for you .
7. Create a plan with products/practices that will help best manage your symptoms (and change when necessary).
I can’t stress this enough: do your research and trust your gut. As I mentioned before, there are plenty of options to help you overcome menopausal symptoms to not let menopause rule your life. If you find a product that works, ten stick with it. If something isn’t working, change it. If you don’t like your doctor, find another one. If you need to see a therapist, start asking around for awesome recos. If you’re struggling with sex, find other ways to be intimate with your significant other. If your hoo-ha isn’t feeling right, there are products to help.
Swallow your pride, find products and people that work for you and your symptoms, and take charge of your life so that menopause doesn’t take charge for you. After all, if you wouldn’t let men control your life, why let men-opause control you? Most importantly, track your treatments and their results. Just like in dating, if you’re not feeling something after you’ve given it significant time to test it, move on.
8. Set and stick to boundaries.
The key here is to communicate, communicate, communicate. When you’re done with that communication, communicate some more! Take some time to determine and set your boundaries. You need to respect yourself and protect your energy. Once you figure out your boundaries, present them clearly to people and then let your behavior do the talking. Also, let your talking do your talking: be sure to state your boundaries clearly. With that being said, “People will test, push, and disrespect your limits. You’ll know you’re getting healthier when this doesn’t get an emotional reaction out of you.”
I came across this helpful perspective: “The biggest part of boundaries is how clearly you communicate them. You can have the most healthy set of boundaries on the planet, but if you do not communicate them clearly, you are going to create some really confusing relationships, both for you and everyone else involved.”
In other words, be honest with yourself and the people around you. The more you realize and stand firm on your boundaries and values, the easier it will be to clearly communicate them.
It’s a Wrap!
With all of the burdens and symptoms associated with the big change, letting menopause overwhelm aspects of your life can be easy. But, it is possible to not let menopause rule your life. Take the menopausal bull by the horns and show her who’s boss by doing the following:
- Develop a mindset of empowerment.
- Track your symptoms daily.
- Educate yourself.
- Do all the self-care possible (before, during, and after the menopausal transition).
- Create your Menopause Minions .
- ask for help (a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, professional advice, etc.).
- Create a plan with products/practices that will help best manage your symptoms (and change when necessary).
- Set and stick to boundaries.
Just remind yourself that there’s a light at the end of the menopausal journey tunnel. Once you decide to not let menopause rule your life, you’ve taken the first step in, well, not letting menopause rule your life! After all, as the queen you are, only you should be the one to rule.
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