Interesting question and one that’s loaded with meaning and subjectivity; “a full and happy life” will mean different things to different women and even “life after menopause” can be weighted with extra meaning too!
Menopause isn’t forever
When we are amid perimenopause it can feel like we are never coming out the other side, but I want to assure you all that this is just a transition which will end.
As you move through perimenopause, into menopause and then post menopause the crazy that you may be experiencing now will start to diminish. Research suggests the first couple of years of perimenopause can be the worst from a symptom standpoint but for many women, these start to reduce over time. When we reach post menopause – after we’ve been period free for 12+ months – the symptoms may even disappear. I was talking to a friend at the weekend who is aged 59 and she said, “oh hot flushes, I haven’t had one of those in ages.” So good news, and proof that menopause is temporary and won’t last forever.
As we approach menopause, we start to question fundamental things about ourselves, and many women tell me they’ve lost touch with who they think they are. They’ve been so caught up with being a wife and a mother they’ve forgotten to think about themselves. When our children no longer need us, we can start to feel a bit redundant as our primary role, and possibly identity defining role, as carer and nurturer has somehow reduced in significance. If we’ve not managed to carve out time for ourselves – doing the things that make us happy and that only we can do – we can find ourselves feeling a bit lost in our own skin. Add to that the feeling of not recognising the woman in the mirror who may have changed physically too through menopause, and we can start to believe that life will never be quite the same again.
And you know what? Life is unlikely to be the same again as we’ve changed through menopause and so too have those around us, but that isn’t something to be afraid of or feel sad about. Menopause gives us the chance to create a new version of ourselves or to explore who we want to become for the rest of our lives.
Would you run a marathon without training?
We can start planning now for our futures. Even if you aren’t nearing menopause age – and as we know there is no hard and fast rule on the age, we will experience menopause as that’s down to our own make up, but a good guide is 40s-50s – we can start to prepare and train now.
Do you think an athlete goes into that all important competition without any planning or training? No of course not. They start a new training and eating plan early and build up to where they need to be; they start visualising themselves winning that all important race; they start believing in their own ability and determination to succeed; they look after themselves and research the latest sports psychology tips to success and they make sure they have the right people around them to succeed.
Thriving through menopause and being ready to live your healthiest, happiest, and most fulfilling life after menopause should be viewed the same way as preparing to run a marathon.
Preparing to ace the Menopause Marathon
To get the most out of your life after menopause, you need to start learning and planning now. When you have the knowledge of what is happening to you, you can take back control and look forward. My Menopause Life Savers will help you do this. They’re like the five top training tips for running your “menopause marathon”.
Fuel your Body – treat your body like it’s a highly tuned sports car and look after it accordingly. Make sure you are putting in the right fuel – the healthiest and best foods, avoiding the high sugar and processed foods that cause us to put on weight and clog up our systems, drink more water and start to limit the substances that can over stimulate our nervous system. Improve our relationship with food so that we start seeing it for what it is – fuel for our minds and bodies and not an emotional crutch (look out for my webinar exploring this in more detail).
Move your Body – again think of that sports car, if it sits in the garage all day not being used its battery will run down and it’ll start to encounter engine difficulties when we try to drive it. Well, our bodies are remarkably similar. If we stop moving, then we gain weight which puts extra stress on our circulatory and skeletal systems; our bones can lose density and our muscles atrophied even quicker; our heart and lunges don’t work as well when we need them to put the extra effort in because they just aren’t used to it. So, if you can move your body daily this will help, and I don’t mean become a gym bunny, just walking daily and increasing our step count to 10,000 or more will help.
Build connection – having the right people around us to give us help, support and confidence is like the garage and mechanics that fine tune our lovely sports car. When our children grow up and leave home, we may find that the old network from the “school gates” is no longer there for us and we can start to feel lonely and isolated. Think about joining a club locally or a women’s group to make new friends and build more new connections, but make sure they are positive connections with whom you want to spend time.
Do more of what you are passionate about – this is all about doing what makes you happy and doing more of it. When we do what we love, then we become more confident, happier, more fulfilled, and generally have more energy and get up and go. It doesn’t have to be some big passion, just a hobby that you love doing and that gives you satisfaction.
Find your purpose in life – back to our sports car whose purpose in life is to look good and drive fast! If you felt your purpose used to be your children and you are missing that role, then find something to replace it. Remember your purpose doesn’t have to be huge and life changing, it just needs to be something that matters and means something to you. Consider volunteering for a charity or helping children to read – anything that makes you feel valued and that matters to others. This is about giving back and sharing your amazing life experience with others so that they too can have fulfilling lives.
And then what?
Look at my Menopause Life Savers and think about what is missing and go for it. You will notice a big difference in how you feel and how you approach your future. Most important of all is to acknowledge how you are feeling and accept that perhaps you could be mourning the loss of your former self, and that’s fine, but remember your new self is in the making and you have the chance to decide who she will be and how she will live her life beyond menopause.
Menopause is simply a biological process and nothing more. Menopause doesn’t have to be the beast chasing us down; it doesn’t have to be feared; it doesn’t have to steal our youth! When we embrace menopause and all the positives it offers, we will have a better experience and more hopeful future. Here’s how I try to think about menopause
- It’s just a biological natural process of change in my body.
- It’s the gateway to my future self and I have the power to open that gate and walk through.
- I have the control over how I experience menopause. Menopause doesn’t hold the power over me.
- Menopause opens a whole new vista for me, and I can decide what that will look like for me.
- I’m going to learn all I can about menopause and use that knowledge to help me to embrace, thrive and grow through this stage of my life.
So, to end
We will all experience menopause.
It is the natural order of things and how our lives will progress.
The sooner we can learn and plan for menopause the better our experience is likely to be for us.
When we think positively about menopause, it follows that our experience will be more positive.
When we arm ourselves with the facts about menopause, we can dismiss the scare stories that are peddled by others and take control of this stage of our lives, focussing on our fabulous futures.
Our Fabulous Future starts here and now.
More information and help
If you would like more help around mastering your menopause journey, then Phoenix Wellness Coaching is here to help – we can work with you and put you on the right road. It’s never too late to start planning for your future. Get in touch to explore how coaching can help.