Dr Christiane Northrup wrote that a womans life has two halves. The first half is spent caring for others (children, spouse, parents), everybody else takes priority and a woman has little time to take care of herself. In the second part of her life, afer menopause, she has time to take care of herself and to do things tha support her values, and she is more at peace.
Although it's not as clean cut as tha,t now really is the time to start prioritizing yourself. It's time to start focusing on what you want and this is not selfish. A happier you means a happier home and those aound you reap the benefits too.
Here are some lifestyle tips that are helping me through menopause-
Take some time for yourself in the morning before anyone else is up if you can. I find this to be hugely beneficial and really sets me up for the day.
It could be a walk, yoga, meditation, reading a book, journalling, mindful breathing or a trip to the gym. Make it something just for you. Moving your body in some way can really help you both physically and mentally. You don't need to go 'balls to the wall' rather find something you enjoy and something you'll stick to. The best form of exercise for you is the one you love.
I do encourage some strength training a few times a week, it's not just about how you look, strength training supports your joints, helps prevent chronic disease, helps preserve precious muscle tissue ( which in turn prevents your metabolism from decreasing) and regular exerise is great for helping to dispose of excess estrogen. If you are new to strength training its a good idea to hire a trainer for a few sessions just so you know the correct form and the exercises that are right for you so as not to cause injury.
Yoga is also a win, win, not only is it great for keeping you supple and flexible the de-stressing affects are phenomenal. Again, you don't need to be pushing yourself to get into the most challanging asana. I personally find the most beneficial classes for me are more restorative and they complement strength training perfectly. Maybe try yin, hatha or yoga nidra (a meditation whilst in savasana, it's divine)
Connect to the people that really support you and stay away from emotional vampires.
You don't need to be in relationships that just take from you and give nothing back. Relationships should be mutually respectful and give and take. Gravitate towards the people that lift you up and vice versa. If you don't feel you have much support consider joining a menopause support group there are so many online and knowing that you can speak to a bunch of women going through the same thing is really comforting.
Menopause and sleep
Many women find that sleep can be effected by menopause. Progesterone and estrogen play a role in this as both are conducive to sleep.
Progesterone has a sedative affect and estrogen regulates the number of times we wake in the night and the amount of REM (dream sleep) we experience as well as how long it takes us to fall asleep. As these hormones reduce so does sleep and a lack of sleep can have a major affect on our day to day wellbeing.
But its not all doom and gloom there are ways to improve sleep it's trial and error but really worth it.
Reduce screen time at least an hour before bedtime
Blue light from your electronic devices actually blocks the production of melatonin so getting off your phone/laptop is a biggy.
Avoid caffeine after midday
The level of caffeine in your blood peaks about one hour after consumption and stays at this level for several hours for most people. Six hours after caffeine is consumed, half of it is still in your body. It can take up to 10 hours to completely clear caffeine from your bloodstream.
This obviously affects sleep, stick to naturally caffeine free beverages in the afternoon and evening. De-caff coffee still has an amount of caffeine in it so avoid this too.
Room tempurature and lighting
Keep your bedroom tempurature cool for a good quality sleep. Research shows that the optimal tempurature for sleep is 15.6 to 19.4 degrees Celsius. For those who suffer from hot flashes maybe even a little cooler and consider investing in a fan.
Keep your bedroom as dark as possible, even the smallest amount of light can disrupt melatonin production and therefore sleep. Consider investing in blackout blinds if out side lighting is an issue.
If you need a little extra help some supplements may benefit you. Trial and error is the name of the game here so be patient. Do bear in mind that I am not a medical professional, these are just the supplements I have personally tried.
Valerian root- This comes in the form of tea, capsules or a tincture. I personally find this really effective and take 20 drops in a small amount of water about half an hour before bed.
Tart cherry juice concentrate- This supplement is high in melatonin and is also anti-inflammatory.
Magnesium- Another one I use and is something most of us are deficient in. It's a naturally calming mineral for the body and has also been shown to reduce menopause symptoms like hot flashes and mood swings. Its also good for bone density, cardiovascular health and anxiety.
Melatonin- Our levels of melatonin decrease with age particularly in menopause. Melatonin helps regulate your biological clock and can help you feel asleep easier.
Off load before bed
Having something on your mind can really play havoc with youe sleep. Try writing it all down before you turn off the light. It helps me to get things off my chest and sets it aside for the following day. I don't know how it works but it really does. I also find writing three things that I'm grateful for from that day switches my mindset into rest and digest, perfect for a better nights sleep.
I hope these tips have helped
Next episode I'm answering all of the questions you've sent me along with a dive into the research HRT and bio identical hormones.