Menopause bring a whole host of unwelcome changes to our bodies.
Unbearable hot flushes and night sweats that overwhelm you unannounced and turn your body into a burning, sweating mess. Unsettlingly vivid nightmares that prevent you from ever getting a proper night’s sleep. Forgetfulness, moodiness, loss of libido and terrible headaches.
But in my opinion, the very worst thing about the menopause is the disempowerment.
It’s as if we lose all power over our bodies and instead become victims to their confusing whims, whatever these might be.
So we battle on and try to make it through whatever way we can. Some of us just put up with it all, turn up the air conditioning and hope things will improve. Others turn to artificial drugs and treatments like HRT, which can potentially damage your long-term health and only postpone the inevitable.
It’s a sorry state of affairs.
But here’s the thing. There’s a third option in all of this. The natural approach. It doesn’t carry the same frustrations or risks of nasty side effects and will help reduce your symptoms, improve your self image, and also boost your overall health leaving you feeling strong, positive and empowered.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
Here are my five simple steps to empowering your menopause.
1. Optimise your lifestyle. By this, I mean take a good hard look at your lifestyle and fix the things that are preventing you from enjoying amazing health.
It’s about investing time and effort in really caring for yourself properly, getting both the quantity and quality of sleep that your body really needs, giving up smoking (I know, that’s a particularly difficult one), minimising your alcohol consumption and also reducing the amount of plastic you use in your day-to-day life.
Yes, that’s right – plastic can be one of the worst offenders when it comes to disrupting the natural hormonal balance within our bodies. Research published in the Journal of Neuroendocrinology has shown that certain plastics can actually mimic oestrogen in the body, which can induce early menopause, worsen menopause symptoms, increase levels of breast cancer and affect heart and bone health. So ditch your harmful plastic lunchbox in favour of a stainless steel one, carry a stainless steel or glass water bottle with you, and reduce the amount of pre-packaged foods you are eating.
2. Get the right amount of exercise. Not so long ago, I was catching up with a client and troubleshooting the awful sleep disruptions and mood swings she was suffering from at the time. We came onto the topic of exercise and, with a smile on her face, she assured me that she was getting plenty of exercise by walking daily and swimming once a week at her local pool.
While I was so pleased she was making changes in her life that would really make a difference to her symptoms, I was disappointed to tell her she needed to be doing more.
You see, it’s a myth that any exercise, even the gentle type, is beneficial when it comes to boosting your health and easing your menopausal symptoms. What we really need is to get our hearts pumping, get that blood flowing and even break a sweat in order for exercise to have its full impact upon our body and hormones.
Now if the mere thought of all this effort breaks you out in a sweat, don’t panic just yet. It can all be done in a mere 20 minutes three times per week. You can do any cardio exercise you like, the more enjoyable the better, and if it’s weight bearing even more so.
3. Focus on your nutrition. The menopause is the time when we really need to pay attention to the food we eat. No longer are we able to cram whatever we like into our mouths without it showing on our waistlines, and now more than ever, we need the additional support that great nutrition and clean eating habits can provide.
The easiest and most effective way to do it is to embrace food. That’s right – absolutely adore every single item you put into your mouth. Value yourself enough to avoid those nasty high-fat, high-sugar processed foods laden with additives and preservatives and turn to beautiful real food instead.
Cook from scratch like your mother used to do, enjoying plenty of fresh vegetables, low-sugar fruits, healthy fats, nuts and seeds and, if you eat them, grass-fed free range meats. Additionally, try to eat foods with a low GI (glycemic index) level to help stabilise your blood sugar, and get as many green, leafy veggies into your diet as you can in order to provide extra minerals and micro-nutrients.
4. Do your life laundry. During periods of transition like these, we often step back and reflect upon where we are and where we want to be.
Sometimes we realise that what we have now is even better than our wildest dreams, but other times we notice that we don’t feel entirely content with the way things are.
Now is your opportunity to have a spring clean! Throw open your internal windows and take a good look at your life. If there’s something that’s not working, fix it or move on. It’s that simple.
Have that conversation that’s long overdue, reassess the things that really matter and begin to live the happy life you deserve.
5. Try relaxation for stress management. For many of us, the menopause can be a stressful time of readjustment and resistance, when we experience a whole host of physical and emotional symptoms.
It’s the time when any long-standing emotional issues of self worth and self image rear their nasty heads. There’s no better time to really get to grips with them, boost how you are feeling about yourself, reduce your stress levels and move forward as a brighter and more confident woman.
There are countless ways that you can take positive action to reduce the stress and anxiety in your life. These include relaxation techniques, positive visualisation, meditation, art and music therapies and hypnotherapy. Take your time to discover something that really works for you, and reap the benefits.
So you really don’t have to be a victim to the hormonal whims of your body, nor resort to artificial hormones to get through this period of natural transition.
You can take control of your menopause and feel like the best-ever version of yourself.