San Francisco, Peninsula,
Copyright 2018: A Time of My Own/Full Circle Institute
Welcome to the new world of midlife. The first and most important new rule of midlife is that we can say the word “midlife”. We can talk about it in polite company and not in the hushed tones of being “a woman of a certain age”. We even get to talk about aging with grace and wisdom. We get to talk about menopause and peri-menopause and to learn about what is happening and how to deal with it.
So, in this article let’s talk about some of the physical and psychological aspects of peri-menopause and menopause. At least once every couple of weeks, a client will ask me, “I feel like I am losing my mind! Do any of your other clients feel like this?” What this intelligent, over-busy, already stressed senior executive woman is experiencing is absolutely common for a woman in her early forties to mid-fifties. What she may be experiencing could be any or all of the following: sleeplessness, restlessness, fatigue, night sweats, hot flashes, memory lapses, heightened and unpredictable emotional reactions, migraines, depression, anxiety, irritability and loss of libido. The reason this may all be happening to you too, is that your hormones are starting to shift around. It is not unlike the kind of hormonal craziness that happens in adolescence.
For some women, these symptoms are accompanied by the stressful challenges of raising equally hormonal teenagers and/or taking care of aging or infirm parents or other relatives. Not fun.
It helps to know that this is a normal and temporary state of affairs and that there are lots of ways to address it. I recommend a mindfulness practice to all of my clients - learning the profoundly valuable practice of some form of meditation and use of deep breathing. These are invaluable for addressing anxiety and stress. I also recommend getting your hormone levels tested and having a conversation with your Medical Doctor, Nurse Practitioner or someone who practices Naturopathic Medicine. You may choose to consider some form of temporary hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Acupuncture and herbal remedies can address many of the symptoms such as hot flashes and associated sleep disturbances. Diet and exercise are relevant and important for most of these symptoms.
I also recommend simple fixes for the busy executive:
Dress in layers so that you can respond to your own changing micro-climates.
Don’t wear silk scarves - they keep the heat in around your neck and amplify the experience of a hot-flash and the accompanying anxiety.
Keep a glass of ice-water (lots of ice!) handy. When you are in an important meeting or doing a presentation the simple act of wrapping your hand around a cold glass of water can nip a hot-flash in the bud. Also - drink the ice-cold water!
When you are feeling anxious and irritable, stop and take several slow, deep breaths. Deep breathing helps your body and mind to relax.
Eating spicy foods and drinking alcohol and caffeine may exacerbate your symptoms so observe your own reactions.
Get out of the office and take a brisk walk for a few minutes.
This ends - trust me. It is not your new normal.
Next up: The Stages of Midlife Adult Development and What That Means to You
San Francisco, Peninsula,