You’re not going to like this, I warn you: there’s no one pill, HRT included, that will fix you. But, there is something that will have a major impact on your perimenopause symptoms. It’s free, readily available and you probably put it at the bottom of your list. I’ll get to it presently but first, some context.
Not a deficiency
Far from being the deficiency it’s portrayed, menopause is a normal part of life. The fluctuating hormone levels can provide challenges, yes, though many do not suffer much in the way of symptoms. Perimenopause is actually a transitional phase to a more focused, liberated time of life where you are firmly at the centre of your universe. After the menopause your hormone levels will return to something like they were before your first period.
“I’ve never felt more fertile than I do now”
Rachel Lankester author of Magnificent Midlife
The expectation of being knackered, unlovable and washed up is a cultural expectation and not a biological certainty. What causes the problem is not perimenopause, it’s burnout. It’s the exhaustion and stress we carry, it’s the endless worry and obligations and emotional labour combined with the guilt when we fall short of our unrealistic expectations. The problem is with our culture, not perimenopause. In short, it’s not your fault.
Ending sexism for good might be a bit much to achieve on a Monday afternoon, but there is something you can do right now, and that’s to stop. To take a tiny moment just now to soften your jaw, drop your shoulders and put your to-do list aside and rest. That’s it, that’s the fix: rest. I did mention you wouldn’t like it.
First of all, you don’t have to earn rest. You are deserving of rest whether or not you have done a good job, perfected that project or ticked everything off the list. After all, there’s always a list and if you only rest after it’s done, this means it will never, ever happen. Rest is a human right. Here are some reasons to rest:
- Stress is the biggest hormone disruptor of all, you will be amazed at how much difference you’ll see in your symptoms by integrating small moments of rest into your day. This is because cortisol, one of the stress hormones, is in part managed by oestrogen in the body, so that when our oestrogen is dropping or fluctuates as it does in perimenopause, it makes us less able to regulate cortisol and we feel more stressed because of this. You need more rest now than before.
- Stress is also a major player contributing to heart disease, the immune system, bone health and all the major health issues we worry about in midlife. Rest counteracts stress.
- Resting is a radical act of self-love and care, boosting self-worth.
- The time out gives you a moment to evaluate what you can let go of, and to re-set the boundaries in your life so they suit you, not other people.
- Resting sets you up for a vibrant postmenopausal life.
- Resting will save you money, because if you’re not frazzled, you’re less likely to splurge on instant fixes.
- It’s sustainable: when you rest, you’ll have more energy to follow your passion, more resilience and more energy to combat the injustice around you.
- By resting you are role modelling healthy self-esteem to your children and community.
- Oh, and it’s free.
“We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to-do’ list.”
Rest can take many forms, including mental, sensory, social rest as well as physical. Lying down isn’t for everyone, so it’s worth considering what you actually find restful: colouring, looking at nature, kickboxing, hanging out with a kind friend, meditating or napping… the possibilities are endless. My personal go-to is Yoga Nidra, it’s a special guided visualisation which totally eased me through my menopause. If you’d like to try it, there are loads you can download for free from my site. Link to https://www.katecodrington.co.uk/start-here/
No time to rest
When our diaries are already bursting, how do we integrate more rest into our lives, without it becoming another to-do to fail at? It’s likely some boundaries need to be adjusted to give you some space, for example, the average phone usage is three and a half hours a day in the UK. A little reduction in scrolling and bingo; rest time! It doesn’t have to be a month long, though you may crave that, even a micro-break of 30 seconds can be enough when used regularly through your day; a stretch, a walk round your room, a quick chat with the cat… anything that reminds you that who you are is not measured by what you get done.
My advice is to start small, commit to something you can manage and go from there. You’ll soon find that little moments grow. And when you fall off the wagon and it doesn’t happen, no judgements! It’s hard to change the habits of a lifetime, instead of beating yourself up, get curious about what got in the way, it’s just another out-dated belief to let go of.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation”
Kate Codrington is the author of Second Spring: the self-care guide to menopause, published by HarperCollins and available at all good bookshops. You can access her free yoga Nidra meditations and many other resources through this page https://www.katecodrington.co.uk/start-here/ on her website and find self-care and positive meno-vibes on her Instagram where she is @kate_codrington link to https://www.instagram.com/kate_codrington/
Dr Pauline was delighted to interview Kate about her self-care, skincare and nutritional tips for those going through pre-menopause and menopause. You can watch the interview here.