Embracing menopause as a positive new life stage

Anxiety, brain fog and mood swings are common symptoms experienced by menopausal women and I can testify that I struggled with all three of these. In fact, I believe they contributed to me losing my confidence and ultimately my job in corporate marketing. When this happened out of the blue five years ago, I was not only struggling with these menopausal symptoms, plus sporadic hot flushes, but was also overwhelmed with a deep sense of dissatisfaction with my life.

To be honest, this had been bubbling away for years, but I had never had the courage to do anything about these feelings or explore them in greater depth. However, suddenly with menopause upon me and low oestrogen levels the new norm I was forced to look at how I could embrace this new state of being and life stage.

The distress over losing my job and panic knowing that I couldn’t bear to continue in what had been my career for the past 30 years but being unsure about what was next for me plunged me into a deep sense of despair for several months as I tried to work it out for myself.

There are several simple nutrition and lifestyle changes that can help improve menopausal symptoms. My top tips include reducing sugary and highly processed foods which can upset your blood sugar balance. In addition, increasing the number and variety of non-starchy vegetables, fruit, herbs and spices aiming for 30 different types a week can support healthy gut bacteria, which is closely linked to mood and cognition.

Reducing alcohol and caffeine is important for managing the severity and intensity of hot flushes and anxiety levels. Keeping hydrated by drinking enough (non-caffeinated/non-alcoholic) liquids - filtered water and herbal teas are ideal. Managing stress levels through relaxation, mindfulness, meditation and of course exercise, plus getting sufficient sleep can have a massive impact on how you feel. Sleep disruption often linked to anxiety is a common menopausal symptom, which I struggled with and I used a relaxation/sleep app for a long time to help me with this.

Another simple technique to distract your busy mind and help you go to sleep with positive thoughts is to close your eyes and think of up to five things that you're grateful for that day. It doesn't have to be anything major, it could just be grateful for a comfy, warm bed, tasty dinner and a nice chat with a friend/partner. Try it! It really works!

As the body is a complex web-like system one or more of these tips could help to improve systems and the great thing about nutritional therapy is that it is totally customised and personalised to you and your unique set of symptoms and health history.

In addition to these nutrition and lifestyle tweaks, I also invested in a series of life-coaching sessions to get me back on track and help me work out how I wanted the next phase of my life to look. This resulted in me taking the plunge into retraining and turning my life-long interest in holistic health and nutrition into a new career. One of the best things I’ve ever done and am now really proud of.

Oestrogen and progesterone are hormones that facilitate communication, caretaking and conflict aversion and effectively sugar-coat any irritations or areas of dissatisfaction you have in life, such as your work or lack of, family, partner, children, friends etc. Once these hormones are on the wane, suddenly the sugar-coating is removed and these niggles rise to the surface and can no longer be ignored.

Instead of viewing this as a problem to be solved, I invite you to consider this an opportunity to become the person you've always wanted to be and to step into a new life stage that is there to be enjoyed to the full. Take a close look at anything in your life that you are unhappy with or just finding irritating and do something about it. 

Of course, it doesn’t have to be as radical as a career change, it could be simply investing more time in your personal health and wellbeing, eating more healthily, starting a new exercise regime or taking up a new hobby.

Whatever it is, don’t ignore it, it’s a gentle nudge towards taking action towards a happier, more positive and more fulfilled future.

I’d love to know what the one thing is in your life that is causing you dissatisfaction. What would you like to change? For anything menopause-related please do get in touch and let's have a chat!

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Windsor, Berkshire, SL4

Written by Helen Ritchie

Windsor, Berkshire, SL4

Helen Ritchie is a registered nutritional therapist dedicated to helping menopausal women to feel normal again through highly personalised nutrition and lifestyle programmes.

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