A symbol of hope.
Spring is a time of new generation and new growth and the snowdrop, already flourishing in our gardens and hedgerows, symbolises hope. It tells us that winter will soon be behind us, with more light and new life ahead.
We have until recently looked upon menopause as the ‘fall’ or autumn of our lives. But now we are living and working longer, we can view it entirely differently.
Many women think of their menopause as a positive stage of life. Some cultures even refer to it as their ‘second spring, celebrating this time and welcoming this change towards greater wisdom, newfound freedom and opportunity.
So, can we really look forward to this climacteric phase, just as we look forward to the coming spring? I believe we can, as long as we take good care of ourselves and put in place some strategies to keep us as healthy as possible now and for the years ahead.
If we follow this theme of spring and changing seasons therefore, it might just be the right time for a spot of ‘gardening’! Now I’m not talking Carol Klein or Monty Don tactics. But I am drawing upon some similarities, reflecting and focussing on areas that require some much-needed attention, for example. A little ‘cleaning up’, ‘planting out’ and ‘nurturing’.
Consider then, these top 10 ‘gardening’ tips for a flourishing second spring:
1. Reflect on what is happening right now in your body and in your mind.
Just as you if you were sitting in a garden, taking everything in. Notice the areas that are flourishing and acknowledge other areas that may need further attention. Make a list of anything and everything. Write down what you see and what you feel. Think holistically, looking at the whole picture, being honest. Only you need to see this reality, and if it doesn’t all look pretty right now, don’t fret. Given the right care, it will improve in time.
2. Prioritise the areas you need to tend to.
Once you have a clear picture of the current reality, you can start to do a little homework, using reliable and trusted sources to help you understand how to make the most of these other areas of your life. This may mean learning how you can better manage your menopausal symptoms for example, or addressing a pattern of negativity. Dig deep and try and find out exactly what’s going on and how this may be impacting your life. Coaching and mentoring could be a helpful strategy for you right now, or maybe even some self-coaching techniques. These encourage honest reflection, and bring about much-needed changes, slowly and sustainably. Prioritising helps you accomplish what is most needed.
3. Plan your course of action – who can you turn to for advice?
Gardeners don’t know everything about their gardens. Even Carol or Monty, I suspect, however enthusiastic and knowledgeable they may be. They often need to refer to books and online information, or bring in other experts to help them address a stubborn or neglected area. So, take a leaf out of their books (pun intended!). If you have identified a few menopausal symptoms which are impacting your life more than others, for example, you might want to start preparing for your visit to your GP, medical practitioner, nutritionist etc. Make sure you see a practitioner who knows and understands about menopause.
If your surgery can’t direct you to a practitioner who is trained in post-reproductive health, find out where you can get the right support and advice. The Women’s Health Concern, the patient arm of the British Menopause Society, offers online and telephone consultations for a small charge. It’s important to get the best from your GP appointment. Whether you decide on a medical or natural approach or a bit of both, investing in your health now, and in the right experts – medical and/or natural – means getting the right help in place for you when you most need it.
4. Think about who you can call upon for your personal support group.
You may not need to follow the gardening theme to the letter – joining ‘Men or She-Sheds’, for example, although that might work for you. However, a support group with a similar ethos may help you achieve your action points. A chat with an old pal may be just the ticket, although joining an online support group may also suit you. Try attending a well-woman group, a Menopause Café , event or retreat. Even a book club, which you might also consider starting yourself, could give you the support, comfort, nurture, and friendship you are seeking. We often feel a lot better about things when we know we’re not alone.
5. Freshen up!
Eat to nourish your body and mind. Weed out and leave out that which doesn’t give you any goodness. Women are often more careful about what they put into their bodies at other times of their lives than at menopause, e.g. when they’re pregnant. While our need now for healthy eating is for a different purpose, it is still vitally important to be mindful of our diet and nutrition if we want to live a long and healthy life. The number and types of vitamins and minerals that we need now have changed. Ensuring we get the right ones in the right amounts will have a positive impact on our menopause and our long-term health.
6. Tidy up, too.
It may be just the time of year for a new haircut, which can often make us feel fabulous! However, even a hair treatment can give us a lift and a bit of a glow. It’s a good time to weed out your wardrobe, too and make space for the coming season. And you don’t have to spend a fortune. I’ve picked up some fabulous pieces from a myriad of charity and thrift shops over the years.
7. Do some spring cleaning
Our skin can look a little tired and rather like faded rose petals at this time of year, so cleansing, toning and moisturising, or applying a facemask, can make a real difference to how you look and feel. Buffing, brushing and moisturising your body with some natural body oils and creams will bring back some shine to match that glossy hair and wake you up from winter hibernation. Changes in our oestrogen levels during perimenopause can make our skin dry and less elastic, so it’s important to nourish and look after it.
8. Look after these new ‘seeds’ of habits, strategies or regimes.
You can do this by regularly nurturing and being kind to yourself. Write lists of all the little things that make and have made, a difference to you, as you go. Or you may want to keep a journal. Continue to self-nurture, and watch them, and you, flourish! Self-nurture is not self-indulgence, it’s what you deserve for yourself. And remember – you ‘can’t pour from an empty cup, or in this case watering can!
9. Tweak your goals and break them down into manageable ‘TATTS’ (Tiny Achievable Tickable Targets)
Celebrate each one achieved, however small. Just as new seeds need tending to and thinning out, your new ideas and goals for the year may need some tweaking further down the line. Maybe some ‘seeds’ will need more attention right now than you expected. Reappraise the situation from time to time, be flexible and reprioritise when needed. It will be worth it in the long run.
10. And finally, enjoy the fruits of your labour as your ideas and strategies begin to bloom.
Marvel at all the beauty that is YOU and all that you have grown around you. Your smart work is paying off. You will need to continue to reflect and adjust throughout the coming year and beyond, as we all know that our gardens only flourish and bloom when we put some work into them from time to time. Of course, this applies to our minds and bodies too. A little extra smart work now when it is most needed will pay huge dividends throughout the rest of our lives.
So, to sum up … this is your time and your season. Dedicate this time to you and your needs now, through personal reflection and by prioritising what needs tending to. Seek the right help and advice from the right people – experts, friends, colleagues, and employers if they’ve had some menopause in the workplace training. Freshen up, tidy up, declutter or maybe have a mini re-style! List and more importantly celebrate, the tiniest of achievements. Break down your goals and make sure you stand back from time to time, to celebrate.