“I think my body has been inhabited by aliens! I cry at the drop of a hat, my brain has gone on vacation, it feels like I am sleeping in the hot desert one moment and the frozen tundra the next, and I don’t even know what is happening to my stomach.”
Does any of this sound familiar? If you are a woman approaching the age of 40, or well into your 70s, you will understand the manic and magical years of menopause.
Luckily, I have solicited the help of AAA to help us through this… the AAA of Menopause.
AWARENESS: What the heck is going on?
Be aware of what the body goes through when it is approaching and going through menopause.
Your moods are unstable.
The fluctuation of hormones creates a sea of sorts of your moods. You may cry at a commercial, get angry at a seemingly innocent comment, snap at your friend for no reason. This is normal.
Being aware of the highs and lows can take some stress off of beating yourself up for your feelings.
Your brain is in a fog.
You may feel like you can’t remember anything from minute to minute. You are working diligently on a task, and suddenly, you brain draws a blank.
Normal, take a breath, get a glass of water, or some nourishment, and move forward.
You are hot…or cold.
You throw your blankets off in a hot sweat, only to be freezing cold within minutes. The influx of hormones creates this unique hot flash or night sweat within your body. Think of it as a wave of energy that moves through you, instead of the devil that has swept through.
Your body may gain weight.
As you move through menopause, you may find your pants don’t fit the way they used to. Usually this weight is gained in the belly…thus the “menopot” saying.
Be aware that there are many things going on in your body that contribute to this weight gain. This awareness can help you to cultivate a kinder and more compassionate inner voice. One that does not beat you up (thus increasing stress levels and cortisol to only encourage further weight gain).
Strengthening this kind and gentle inner voice can be of great benefit to you during your menopausal years…and beyond.
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ACCEPTANCE: This is a new chapter of life.
Accept that the body is going through normal changes.
Accepting the fact that your body may change as you age.
When you wake up and notice that you no longer have the body you had 10 years ago, you may decide to “do something about it”. But remember that dieting or overexercising will only set you up for further weight gain (95% of dieters regain their weight and sometimes more within three years).
One of the most advantageous things you can do is accept that your body may change as you get older. (Note: I am not saying there aren’t things we can do…see our ammunition tips below.)
Realizing that you are in a different stage of life.
Your body and mind may be driving you crazy right now; however, these are all normal changes that our bodies make.
Acceptance of skin, hair and nail changes.
These are also normal during menopause, and they are also very different for everyone. What is happening to your friend may or may not happen to you. All of it is normal.
AMMUNITION: Be prepared for the change.
There are many things that can help to make this transition easier for you and the people around you.
Find some movement you enjoy.
Exercise can be helpful in many ways. Exercise can:
- Increase endorphins, the feel-good hormones
- Increase self-esteem and confidence
- Decrease depression and anxiety
- Decrease stress
- Help with the changes in your body due to weight gain
Nourish yourself with foods that feel good AFTER you eat them.
There can be some changes in the way your body digests specific foods as you age. Be aware and pay attention to the way that foods make your body feel after you eat them.
Engage in self-care strategies.
Taking care of yourself is extremely important. Self-care cuts down on stress levels…and cortisol. Without self-care, you tend to end up pouring out of an empty cup. So take time to fill yourself back up.
Remember, self-care looks different for everyone. What relaxes you? Here are a few suggestions:
- Take a walk with a friend or an animal friend
- Take a bath or shower
- Get a massage, manicure or pedicure
- Carve out time to read a good book
- Color, draw, journal or do a crossword puzzle
- Dance or listen to music
- Explore a new hobby or craft
- Watch a movie
Connect with nature.
Nature can decrease stress levels, increase creativity, belonging and self-confidence. Take walks, work in your garden, build a snowman. Eat outside or have a picnic.
Sleep is essential to living a full life. Some tips to get a restful sleep include:
- Having a relaxation routine before bed… perhaps light stretching, a cup of tea, journaling, prayer or some soft music.
- Sleep in a dark and cool room
- Cut off screen time at least one hour before bed
- Keep your phone in another room
- Avoid drinking caffeine 6 hours before bed
Hot flashes and night sweats can interrupt sleep. Everyone will experience them a little differently. Here are some suggestions of things to avoid that may help:
- Spicy foods
- Hot Drinks
- Unexpressed Anger
Develop a kinder more self-compassionate voice.
As changes occur in your body and mind, know that these changes are normal. Be kind and gentle to yourself as you move forward.
Don’t hesitate to call AAA.
When you do not recognize yourself one day when you wake up…like you have been abducted by the aliens of menopause…call AAA for Awareness, Acceptance and Ammunition.
Being aware of what is happening can be the first step in accepting that you are headed into a new chapter of your life. Utilize some of this ammunition and move into this amazing chapter of your life with more energy and a giant size cup of self-care and self-compassion.
Here at Green Mountain at Fox Run, we offer a mindfulness-based approach to eating, moving and living that we have refined over four decades at our pioneering non-diet women’s wellness retreat center. If you need support in prioritizing your self-care and developing body acceptance while connecting with other women who understand during this stage of life, Green Mountain has what you are looking for. Please contact one of our Program Advisors for more information.