Perimenopause and menopause is a time of transition that often comes with new and unexpected challenges. The changes that accompany perimenopause/menopause can cause a great deal of physical and mental stress. Women who successfully navigate menopause recognize this and employ effective self-care practices that support both their well-being.
Being aware of the substantial impact of perimenopause and menopause, understanding the importance of self-care, and employing effective wellness practices can significantly improve your journey through perimenopause/menopause.
What is Perimenopause/Menopause?
Perimenopause and menopause are the terms used to describe a woman’s transition from healthy menstruation through the cessation of their childbearing ability. Perimenopause typically begins in the 40s and can remain anywhere between 6 months to 10 years. Once a woman has not had her period for at least 12 months she is considered menopausal. Menopause denotes the end of a woman’s capacity to ovulate and therefore carry children.
During perimenopause/menopause hormone function is altered, physical changes occur, and various symptoms may develop. Some of the most common symptoms of both perimenopause and menopause are insomnia, changes to a woman’s period, hot flashes, fatigue, migraines or headaches, forgetfulness, and mood irregularities. Typically, perimenopause causes inconsistent and fleeting symptoms while menopause is more likely to cause chronic issues – learn more about perimenopause/menopause symptoms here.
Managing the many changes and symptoms associated with perimenopause/menopause is often difficult but may be eased through engagement with restorative self-care.
The Importance of Self-Care
Self-care is the practice of nurturing the body and mind in ways not facilitated by standard medical care. Self-care can be as simple as relaxing at home, practicing mindfulness, becoming better acquainted with your body, or indulging in a treat. Many women who have gone through perimenopause/menopause strongly endorse self-care. Implementing the following self-care practices can help alleviate the physical and mental symptoms of menopause while also supporting general wellness.
Be Mindful of Your Mental Wellness
Studies suggest that many women who go through perimenopause/menopause, especially those at risk for premenstrual dysphoric disorder, are vulnerable to depression. Recognizing this threat and being aware of your own state of mind is important. Be sure to keep watch for the telltale signs of depression such as feeling hopeless, lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities or topics, difficulty concentrating, malaise, etc – learn the difference between “the blues” and depression here. Recognizing these indicators early and promptly pursuing treatment can eliminate a significant amount of hardship.
Spend Time with Others
The journey through perimenopause/menopause can be difficult and is oftentimes isolating. Worse still, when dealing with perimenopause/menopause, cultivating and caring for relationships can quickly become a low priority. However, making the effort to meet with others and talk, enjoy a small activity, or simply spend time together can help counteract the negative mental and physical symptoms, improve outlook, and promote sensations of well-being.
Set Aside “Me” Time
Although being with others is important, spreading yourself too thin can contribute to stress, exhaustion, and a worsening of perimenopausal/menopausal symptoms. It is essential that you schedule time to just be alone with yourself and relax. This time can be spent on a solo activity like watching a movie, walking in a public garden, enjoying a spa day, or simply saying no to invitations or outings. Regardless of the form of your “me” time, be sure it is something you find restorative and relaxing.
Shake it Up
Healthy exercise is an important part of general wellness but can be difficult for those going through menopause. Managing menopause symptoms such as fatigue and malaise can make it exceptionally difficult to get moving. However, it is important to note that being active, for even just a little while, can dramatically improve energy level, sleep quality, and mood. Exercises such as stretching and yoga, running, walking, dancing, or whatever activity gets you motivated can alleviate stress, improve symptoms of perimenopause/menopause, and put you on the right track to wellness.
Improve Your Diet
Weight change and redistribution is a prominent component of menopause. Optimizing your diet can do a great deal to combat the unhealthy weight gain, hot flashes, mood swings, and other symptoms associated with perimenopause/menopause. Removing erroneous foodstuffs such as processed goods, high-sugar substances, and overly salty products alleviates physical stress and inflammation. Coupling this with a balanced diet containing whole foods, healthy fats, quality proteins, and a steady supply of fruits and vegetables can further improve perimenopausal/menopausal symptoms and wellness.
Follow Through with Appointments and Screenings
The age at which women typically progress through perimenopause/menopause is also the time where the risk of cancer increases. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, over 60 percent of invasive breast cancers occur in menopausal women. Furthermore, studies suggest that women near the age of menopause have greater risk of skin and colon cancer. You can safeguard yourself by attending regular screenings and checkups. This can provide peace of mind and also lead to early recognition and subsequent treatment of otherwise difficult to spot conditions.
Cultivate a Calm Mind
Reducing stress is one of the primary goals of self-care. Chronic stress is a leading cause of many health conditions and can contribute significantly to the severity, duration, and occurrence of menopausal symptoms. You can alleviate stress by practicing calm and cultivating a healthy mental state. Some of the best ways to encourage mental relaxation and alleviate stress are by making sleep a priority, practicing deep breathing exercises and/or meditation, and physical relaxation in the form of massage or a warm bath.
Encourage Perimenopausal/Menopausal Wellness by Practicing Self-Care
The changes that come with perimenopause/menopause can be stressful and challenging. For this reason, self-care is incredibly important when transitioning into menopause. Engaging in personal wellness practices such as those described above can help reduce symptoms of perimenopause/menopause, encourage mental well-being, and support physical wellness. As you progress through your perimenopause/menopause journey, be sure to make yourself a priority by employing these and other self-care practices.