It wasn't that long ago that women spoke about "the change" in hushed voices as though it was something to be ashamed of rather than a natural part of every woman's life. And while we aren't going to pretend that the symptoms leading up to and during the end of a woman's fertile years are physically or mentally easy, the good news is there are a lot of things that can help manage the transition.
This isn’t your grandma’s menopause!
Today's menopausal woman is vital, vibrant, sexy, educated and sure of herself, and she isn't letting a little thing like a hot flash slow her down. Don’t believe it? Take a look at celebrities like Martha Stewart, who rocked the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition at the age of 80, or Cher and Madonna, who still cavort around the stage with stamina (and physiques) of women half their age. Not since Lululemon made the fanny pack fashionable again has rebranding made such a difference.
We aren’t suggesting that menopause is all in your mind, but we are suggesting that your menopause mindset can help you through the transition. If you see it as a time ripe with opportunity instead of the beginning of the end, then the sky’s the limit! What better time than a brand-new year to resolve to change your mind about menopause and see it for the potentially positive aspects it affords? You might discover that this stage of life is full of exciting opportunities and the freedom you need to pursue them.
New Year’s Resolution #1: Try to Put the “Me” in Menopause
If there was ever an excuse to find some “me” time, menopause is it. Self-care should be at an all-time high right now. It's not selfish to prioritize your needs as you adjust to the changes unfolding in your body. No, we aren't just talking about a spa day, although we wouldn't say no to that, we’re talking about prioritizing your menopause mental health. Giving yourself space to experience any emotions that arise, to rest when you need to, and to schedule time for the things that bring you joy. Mental health has a big impact on physical well-being, so be sure you’re prioritizing accordingly.
New Year’s Resolution #2: Do Your Best to Get Physical
Not only can physical activity help you stay lean and reverse or avoid any hormonal weight gain, but it can also help your mental health in perimenopause or menopause. Exercise is a natural mood elevator and an excellent way to manage stress. If you haven't started a regular exercise program, there's no time like the present. Join a group class, hire a trainer, or start going for long outdoor walks. Anything that gets you moving counts, so find an activity you enjoy and reap the benefits of those feel-good endorphins. Additionally, weight training is a helpful exercise to consider during menopause due to its ability to build muscle and support flexibility and strength. You don’t have to lift heavy, but incorporating some strength training can also be beneficial.
New Year’s Resolution #3: Prioritize Nutrition and Eat Well
What you put into your body matters now more than ever. Say no to (or at least moderate) sugar, pass on the overly processed foods, and abstain or cut back on alcohol to look and feel your best during menopause. Remember, your body may feel out of control, but you ultimately control what you put in it. Fuel it well with whole foods, plenty of fruits and veggies, and lots of water. Many experts recommend the Mediterranean diet as one of the healthiest ways to eat regardless of age or stage of life – but especially during menopause. Try to eat well so that you can feel even better.
New Year’s Resolution #4: Reconnect and Refresh Relationships
Typically, when a woman reaches her menopausal years, her children are older and may have even flown the nest. Take advantage of the lack of carpool pickup, athletic practice, and piano lessons and take some time to reconnect with friends. Schedule a girl’s night out or meet up for lunch. Join a book club or pick up pickleball. There are plenty of opportunities to fuel friendships and even make new ones. And don’t discount the power strong relationships can have on your mental health during menopause, too.
New Year’s Resolution #5: Take Time Rekindle Romance
When’s the last time you had a date night or took a romantic getaway? If you can’t quite remember, this could be a great New Year’s resolution for you. You might find a whole new level of intimacy now that you don't have to worry about the kids walking in or birth control. And if menopause is making intimacy less pleasurable, no worries! There are plenty of over-the-counter supplements, moisturizers and lubricants that can work to address vaginal dryness and other physical issues that are negatively affecting your sex life. Don’t let symptoms stop you, there are a variety of solutions to explore.
New Year’s Resolution #6: Pursue Your Passions
Don't view the onset of menopause as a sign that you’re running out of time – it’s actually quite the opposite. Consider picking up a new hobby or an old passion that has fallen by the wayside. Take a class, learn a new language, or volunteer with a local charity. Ready for a career change? Turn your hobby into a side hustle or a side hustle into a full-blown career. Use the wisdom of your years to define your future.
New Year’s Resolution #7: Be Your Best Advocate
You wouldn’t allow someone you love to suffer, so why should you let yourself struggle through perimenopause or menopause? If you are having issues with depression, sexual intimacy, weight gain, insomnia, or any of the numerous symptoms that menopause may bring, don’t hesitate to ask your healthcare provider for help or consult a certified menopause practitioner.
Menopause is nothing to fear, and thanks to more women speaking up about this natural process, the stigma is slowly being removed. Women are no longer disappearing quietly into the background as they approach midlife. Instead, they are finding new and sometimes more authentic ways to shine. Resolve to make 2024 your year and live your life out loud.