Let’s face it, menopause is not a peaceful walk in the park. However, it doesn’t have to be a wild, out of control ride during which you feel physically miserable and emotionally unstable. So let me give you some real hope and practical solutions that can mitigate many of the symptoms. With mindful awareness of life choices and of your specific symptoms, you can create a smooth transition for yourself. Here are some pointers:
1. Nutrition is critical. You are what you eat and food is medicine. It’s important to eliminate all sugars and consume enough vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients so hormonal fluctuations don’t wreck havoc on your mind and body. A balanced nutrient-rich diet with healthy fats can keep everything working more optimally. Natural supplements can help, especially important if you feel overwhelmed by daily life or find it hard to eat in a healthy way. If your life is a fast-paced whirlwind, you may not be getting enough of the key B vitamin folate. So you may try supplementing with Metafolin (5-MTHF, or l-methylfolate), the biologically active form of folate that’s much easier for your body to process and use.
Black cohosh is effective in reducing hot flashes and night sweats and may lower blood pressure. Vitamin E oil applied to the vagina can improve lubrication and also reduce hot flashes. Flaxseed—either ground or oil—has omega-3 fatty acids and lignans that act as phytoestrogens which may help reduce symptoms. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which are diuretics that encourage dehydration and can aggravate hot flashes. Try cold water or fruit juices with antioxidant vitamins. Other herbs that can help reduce menopausal symptoms include passionflower, chasteberry, wild yam and ashwagandha. These herbal remedies work as adaptogens for your hormones. (Some women find that applying wild yam creams to the skin can reduce some of the menopausal symptoms.)
2. The right kinds of exercise can make a difference such as yoga, aerobics, walking, dancing, swimming, biking, and breathing exercises. Meditation can reduce irritability and hot flashes and can improve sleep. Movement is essential for overall health. So it's helpful to find an exercise that you enjoy--or get a friend to be an exercise buddy-- so you'll be more inclined to do it. It will boost your overworked adrenal glands in a way that can help you feel less fatigued or out of sorts.
3. Identify stress-reducing tools that work for you. Stress, anxiety, fears or feeling overwhelmed can intensify symptoms. Stress can cause additional imbalances in hormones and neurotransmitters that affect mood as well as mental function, thyroid function, digestive function, and especially blood sugar imbalances. Stress has also been linked to symptoms such as hot flashes and low libido. One of the simplest solutions is to take breaks several times a day to stretch, or practice deep breathing. Want a meditation technique? Try my free audio: "3 Minutes to Destress." Download it to your cellphone and use it often throughout the day.
4. 4. Emotional wellness is another factor. What you think, you create and become. If you’re worried and negative, you will create drama and turmoil. To change that pattern, try keeping a journal so you quantify your feelings and thoughts. Begin each day with a positive affirmation such as “I’m happy, healthy and love my life.” Starting your day with an uplifting statement can establish your mood on a high note that can endure throughout any challenges of the day. (You'll find additional support in the book Escape From Anxiety--Supercharge Your Life With Powerful Strategies From A to Z which offers over 100 strategies and every chapter includes an affirmation. The introduction explains how affirmations work even if you don't at first believe what you're saying.)
5. 5. Essential Oils can be beneficial. I asked advice from a friend Laura Jenks Daly, BSN MPA, a former nurse and essential oil expert. She said: “There are some wonderful oils that support the hormone imbalances which cause all the symptoms a woman may be experiencing. Of course diet is first...oils will not work alone...sugar is the biggest offender.
“To support healthy levels, I would start with PROGESSENCE PLUS (a blend made with essential oils including: frankincense, bergamot, cedar wood, copaiba, peppermint, clove, rosewood and wild yam extract). Then add a SCLARESSENCE for some estrogen support and finally ENDOFLEX for overall endocrine support. If someone were having a sugar issue (too many sweets or a high carb diet) I would recommend OCTEA as a blood sugar balancer.” Laura carries Young Living Oils and her direct contact is: firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Sleep is often compromised because of disturbing night sweats. Wear loose-fitting cotton night clothes and use cotton bed linens. Keep an ice pack handy. If you're sleep-deprived, a go-to solution is to get an audio recording of Integrative Relaxation known as Yoga Nidra. Listening to this guided meditation for just 20 minutes can deliver the impact of 3-4 hours of deep restorative sleep. Read more (I recommend the recording for Stress Relief. It also boosts the immune system and can assist in bringing the body into better balance.)
Menopause is not an end, it’s the beginning of a new, more empowering and freer life. When you make mindful choices, you can thrive and expand your own potential. It will take some trial and error to uncover what works best for you (which is why keeping a journal can help track your triggers and choices). There are moments that may not feel fantastic. In fact, they may feel downright horrible. But know that you are transitioning. Menopause is your rite of passage and it WILL pass and you will be so much better on the other side when you make the right lifestyle choices now!