What happens to our self-confidence through the menopause?

This month we are going to focus on self-confidence in Our Menopause Our Way. I wanted to look at self-confidence because it is so closely linked to self-esteem and body confidence – when one falters, then all three falter.
You would think with the changing in our hormone levels coupled with the fact that we no longer have the worry of pregnancy, that our self-confidence would be sky rocketing during our mid-lives.

The drop in progesterone and oestrogen stops our biological clock, removing the drive to have children (and I might add, also takes away our sex drive but that’s for a different discussion), which should mean that we feel freer and more able to embrace the possibilities of our lives.
Add to that the fact that testosterone reduces the least, leaving around 30% still in our bodies (as opposed to 1% oestrogen and 0% progesterone) so that we may feel more confident and a little less “caring”. In this I mean that we can become more focused on our wants and desires and finally go after our dreams rather than put our ambitions on hold to carry out one of our most important roles as mother and nurturer.
The menopause should be a time when you can follow your passions, find a new life for yourself where you are free to look after you and even, dare I say it, put you at the top of your list at last. This should give you more self-confidence and an almost “devil may care” attitude; BUT it doesn’t for so many of us! Only a very small number of women sail through the menopause with no symptoms – around 75% of us will experience symptoms to varying degrees. In all this, more and more often I hear my clients say they want to regain their self-confidence which they feel they have lost through the menopause.
Lack of self-confidence shows up most in the workplace. In a recent study carried out by www.forthwithlife.co.uk of 1000 women aged 45 or over in the UK they found:

  • 63% of women said their working lives had been negatively impacted by the menopause.
  • 47% reported decreases in concentration.
  • 41% reported memory issues.
  • 29% reported significant loss of confidence at work.
  • 41% said they had made mistakes at work.

So we can see the impact of our changing hormones brings about a Catch 22 situation – we find it harder to concentrate, so we make mistakes that make us feel less confident in our abilities – all leading to more worry around our abilities to perform our jobs which then leads to anxiety and loss of sleep etc etc etc!
What can we do to stop the tide?
Well as King Canute found out, we cannot stop the tide. We must accept that the menopause will happen to us. In a really interesting conversation with a client today she pointed out something quite profound – whilst all women can have children, many choose not to; but all women will experience the menopause regardless of whether they have chosen to be mums! Really profound for me when I think that workplaces are geared up to support working mums and yet not so geared up to support working menopausal women. This is the largest and fastest growing demographic in the UK at 4.5 million women, so why not do more to talk about the menopause and support this valuable resource? Again another discussion on another day.
So we know we WILL experience the menopause and we need to plan for it. This comes back to my 5 A Day that I talk about a lot – Nutrition, Exercise, Self-Care, Passion and Purpose. When we fuel our bodies properly then we fuel our minds. Here’s an example of how minding your nutrition and exercise can help your self-confidence:

When you exercise your body releases endorphins which naturally make you feel happier and more content. Exercise will help you to burn calories better and stem the onset of the “meno belly”. Exercise will test your mental strength as you push yourself to do more difficult moves, or run faster or further, or learn a new dance step etc. Exercise will help to tone your body and reduce the impact of muscle wastage, a natural part of ageing.

When you eat well and hydrate properly you are honouring your body. You are giving your body and mind the fuel it needs to function at its best more of the time – remember our brain is one of the most calorie hungry organs in our body! When you eat natural healthy food and less processed options, your body is better able to metabolise these resulting in less excess weight gain, which in turn means you can exercise better.
In all of this you are testing yourself and gently pushing your comfort zone. As you get fitter you will naturally feel more confident in yourself and you will begin to focus on what your body can do, rather than how it looks. Believe me this works – I have done it and continue to do it.

More information and help
Join my Facebook Group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2795782627318675 to get more hints and tips on how to thrive through the menopause, or checkout my website for the many courses and programmes we run to support you or email me at jeanette@phoenixwellness.co.uk if you’d like to talk about 1:1 coaching and support.