When you were young, your parents or teachers probably gave you “the talk” about changes your body would experience. But as women continue to age, a sudden onslaught of symptoms warrants a second talk…about menopause. Your periods stop, but they’re quickly replaced with some unpleasant signs—hot flashes, mood swings and low libido, to name a few.
You can’t avoid menopause and all the changes it brings. However, there are ways to combat the less desirable effects of this transition. Here are some tips for taking care of your mind and body during this pivotal stage in your life.
Must-have tools for menopausal women
The transition into menopause is filled with all sorts of twists and turns. Women can experience any number of symptoms including hot flashes, sleep disturbances, reduced libido, mood swings and more. Make the most of these years with tools that help reclaim your quality of life.
- Cooling pajamas and bedsheets: Women going through menopause are all too familiar with night sweats that disturb sleep. This common symptom forces you to wake in the middle of the night drenched in sweat due to a hot flash. Reduce the severity of night sweats by swapping heavy linens for special cooling bedsheets. The fabric is woven with stay-cool technology to regulate your core body temperature. Also switch to pajamas made from a breathable material and use several lightweight blankets instead of a heavy duvet.
- Guided meditation apps: Menopausal women undergo huge amounts of stress. This added stress usually stems from irritability, low mood and overall physical discomfort. In turn, stress can increase the severity or frequency of hot flashes. Pump the breaks on mental and physical symptoms by meditating for a few minutes each day. Mobile apps are available to guide you through quick and simple meditative sessions. Mindfulness and deep breathing exercises can stave off hot flashes and lower your overall stress levels.
- Herbal supplements: Besides physical symptoms like night sweats, menopause can lead to cognition changes such as brain fog, mood swings and poor memory. Estrogen helps balance chemicals in the brain, and lower levels of this hormone can throw your brain health off kilter. A daily herbal supplement can keep your mind sharp, support focus at work and calm anxious thoughts. Look for cognitive function supplements that contain lion’s mane, holy basil leaf, bacopa and green tea.
- Vitamin D and calcium-rich foods: In addition to controlling the reproductive system, estrogen is necessary for absorbing calcium into the body. As estrogen levels drop, the body becomes less capable of producing new bone cells. Women who’ve completed menopause tend to have lower bone density, increasing the risk of fractures and other injuries. Keep your bones healthy and strong by eating natural sources of calcium. Eat vitamin D-rich foods, as well, since this nutrient plays a role in bone growth.
Healthy habits to help you thrive
Menopausal wellness involves more than breathable pajamas and meditation apps. Simple changes to your daily routine can support a more positive mindset and lower your risk of chronic disease. Try these strategies for overcoming the challenges of menopause.
- Choose a low-impact exercise: Physical activity has been shown to alleviate many menopausal symptoms. It can aid weight loss in women who struggle with fat redistribution around the waist. Exercise can also lead to better sleep quality and reduced stress levels. Menopausal women are susceptible to heart disease, and a consistent workout schedule can help mitigate this risk. Try a low-impact activity like yoga, swimming or tai chi to avoid bone fractures and pressure on the joints.
- Avoid foods that trigger hot flashes: Stress isn’t the only thing that can worsen hot flashes. For some women, certain foods may cause a drastic spike in their core body temperature. Keep a journal that logs when each hot flash occurs and what foods you ate beforehand. You might notice that alcohol, caffeine, sugar or spicy foods trigger a hot flash. Get to know your body and stick to foods that keep hot flashes at bay.
- Get adventurous in the bedroom: The hormonal changes associated with menopause can zap your libido. Not only that, but low estrogen levels contribute to vaginal dryness and painful sex. Explore new forms of intimacy with your partner to reignite that passion. This may involve romantic date nights, spontaneous sex or whatever else works for you. Talk to your doctor about vaginal lubricants that can increase pleasure during intimacy.
Menopause is a natural part of aging that most women dread. While this transition has its challenges, don’t let that stop you from having the best years of your life! Changes in diet, exercise and lifestyle choices can greatly diminish menopausal symptoms. Keep on charging through—the hot flashes and mood swings are only temporary!