Written by Mallory Junggren
Most women associate menopause symptoms with the absence of their monthly menses, along with unrelenting hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue and mood swings. However, there is another symptom many women experience during this transition that is much less often discussed: a lowered self-esteem.
Menopause symptoms can make you feel like a stranger to yourself. Bonafide Medical Advisor, Dr. Alyssa Dweck, says she commonly hears from her perimenopausal or menopausal patients that they sometimes don’t even recognize themselves during menopause. “They suffer from anger, irritability, sadness, and just not feeling one hundred percent like themselves,” say Dr. Dweck. The hormone fluctuations that happen during menopause can cause significant fluctuations in mood, which can be further exacerbated by other menopause symptoms, such as weight gain and fatigue. Add on top of this the general stigma surrounding menopause, aging, and the end of a woman’s fertile years, and it’s easy to understand why a woman’s confidence and self-esteem can suffer.
Embracing Change During the Menopausal Transition
While the symptoms associated with menopause can be difficult, particularly when they first appear or when they intensify, it’s important to realize that they will change over time. The full transition from perimenopause to postmenopause varies from woman to woman, and typically lasts for several years. Progesterone and estrogen levels are declining during this time; however, they’re not declining at a continuous or steady rate. This means that menopause symptoms can become more severe and volatile during the steepest hormonal drops. After reaching menopause, hormones tend to level out, and symptoms ease for many women.1 Understanding the stages of menopause and what happens during each of them can help you regain a sense of control and self-confidence.
Tactics for Improving Self-Esteem During Menopause
Like most things in life, this too shall pass. But if you find yourself in the throes of menopause-related symptoms, physical and emotional changes, and a lowered self-esteem, you may need some more tactical ways to cope than just waiting it out. Here are some tips that may help reduce your menopause symptoms from hurting your confidence.
Make Yourself a Priority. It’s important to treat yourself and your body right. Instead of just accepting harsh menopause symptoms, proactively take steps to help alleviate them. Be sure to get eight hours of sleep a night and eat three meals daily. Avoid salty, sugary, and spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine. Indulge instead in fruits, veggies, whole grains, and foods rich in calcium. Incorporate aerobic exercise into your daily schedule. Make time for you!
- Do something you love. Nothing lifts the spirits more than activities that make you happy. Go for a walk outdoors. Pick up a new art project or hobby. Catch up with a friend. Try engaging in healthy activities that can help take your mind off negative feelings and hopefully shift your mood.
- Try something new. Trying something different forces us to refocus and redirect our energy. So, if you’ve always wanted to learn how to tango, knit a scarf or bake bread from scratch, now is a good time to do it. Learning something new can boost your energy levels and provide a sense of accomplishment and pride. Reinvention can truly happen at any age, and menopause is the perfect time for self-exploration.
- Find time to relax. Women with menopause symptoms may often feel anxious. Try slowing down and taking a deep breath. Put up your feet and read your favorite magazine. Consider cultivating a new mindfulness routine, which is an excellent way to manage the physical and mental changes that can accompany menopause. Engage in activities that allow you to rest your mind and focus on being present.
- Say no to negativity. When you don’t feel well, it’s easy to feel like nothing is going right in any aspect of your life. These negative thoughts can lead to a downward spiral, giving way to more negative thoughts and emotions. If you find yourself experiencing negative thoughts, remember that you have the power to stop them. Create your own toolkit of actions that can help bring you out of a negative mindset. For example, when you start to feel down, make a list of the positive things you have accomplished during the day, or recite a positive affirmation.
- Give yourself a break. Remember: nobody’s perfect and life isn’t perfect. So what if you look a little tired or aren’t as quick with your daily activities? Everyone, whether they are experiencing menopause symptoms or not, has good days and bad days. It’s a normal part of life! Give yourself space to feel your feelings and have “off” moments.
If you try the above tips and don’t see any improvement, consider talking to your doctor or therapist to get additional help. There are a numerous ways to manage both menopause symptoms and low self-esteem, and you shouldn’t have to struggle through either alone.
Bonafide offers hormone-free treatment alternatives for common symptoms that can often accompany the hormonal changes of menopause, such as mood swings, sexual dissatisfaction, and hot flashes. Learn more about our products.