Managing menopause in a changing world

March 25, 2020

In the grand scheme of things, today, menopause may feel insignificant. It is true that the wider concerns brought about by the coronavirus have focused minds on other issues – how to work from home without stressing your relationship, home-schooling the kids and making meals out of what’s available on the supermarket shelf. The health of you and of those around you is the priority.

But menopause symptoms will not have stopped, in fact they may have got worse as changes in stress levels, work set-up and worries about those around us, impact our physical, mental and emotional health. Feeling confined to home will make the best of us feel irritated and snappy; add the menopause to the mix and tempers might fray.

There is a lot we can’t change at present, like working from home, but there are steps we can take to minimise the effect of menopausal symptoms. The rhythm of life will change, daily routines have been altered and for some of us this will be hard, for others it might bring positive benefit.

Menopause can worsen feelings of anxiety. It is ok to acknowledge these feelings. We can use mindfulness techniques or relaxation exercises to reduce the feelings that can feel overwhelming. Reflect on what is good today, what went well for you and what you have to be thankful for. Try an app, there are many available.

Menopause cafes have been springing up in workplaces, offering peer support and encouragement. They too could be virtual, using group video calls and what’s app type groups. The benefit of sharing with other women can still be achieved.

It can feel isolating away from colleagues and office support. You probably enjoyed the office banter and social interactions that have been lost. Acknowledge the uncertainty, have intentional check in times, use technology for both formal and informal meetings. Make an effort to connect to colleagues and friends, make sure you are asking them how they are. Designate a space for work, if possible and take breaks through the day.

Sleep is an issue for lots of menopausal women and worrying about health does not make it easier. Work towards improving sleep by keeping to routines at bedtime and limiting screen time. And avoiding caffeine before bed. Aim to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. Take daily exercise, we are allowed. Try an online class, they are surprisingly good.

For many women, lack of concentration, poor memory and losing confidence form part of a cluster of menopausal symptoms. Adapting to forced changed circumstances will need personal patience and intentional adaptations. Maybe finding a work ‘buddy’ to check in with would help, perhaps keeping a daily journal or ‘prompt diary’, especially when ending work for the day and changing again, this time into ‘home ‘ mode.

“stay home to stave lives” is the mantra. If by doing this, we are encouraged to look after our mental and emotional health in a greater way, and the health of others, then perhaps some good come out of this difficult situation. Remember, we are all in this together.