Lifestyle changes are probably the most cost-effective way to improve many symptoms of menopause. But they can also be very challenging! Finding changes you can commit to and make gradually (or immediately) can be rewarding and make you feel healthier overall. Here is a list of some of the things you can do:
1. Eat a healthy diet
This means a balance of good fats, complex carbohydrates and protein. Food really can be your medicine. You should also aim to eat fruits and vegetables with every meal, including breakfast. Eating regularly, every few hours, can help stabilize your blood sugar. One of the most important things you can do is reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates and sugar in your diet.Optimal nutrition can also be achieved by including a multi-vitamin/multi-mineral supplement daily. Most women do not eat a balanced enough diet to get adequate amounts of these daily. There are certainly other supplements that can enhance your overall nutrition/health; ask your healthcare provider if you have questions on other supplements you should be taking.
2. Find exercise that you love!
Many women notice weight gain during perimenopause and menopause, especially around their stomach and middle section. This is so common because, in an effort to preserve fertility, your body wants to hold on to whatever estrogen you have and estrogen is often stored in body fat. Movement can also be your medicine. Find an exercise you enjoy; walking, jogging, swimming, yoga, biking, dancing, fitness classes are all great choices. And find a friend to join you. Many of these activities are more fun when you’re not alone. If you do not enjoy your exercise, you will not continue with it. Regular exercise can help to reduce fat and help the estrogen and progesterone ratios in your body. It is also important for your mental health, cardiovascular health, sleep and overall well-being.
3. Take steps to reduce your stress.
Stress is so common and we have learned to live with it. Stress can be a culprit in hormone imbalances that affect mood, thyroid function, digestive function and more. Stress has been linked to hot flashes and low libido also. Exercise, adequate sleep, time in nature/outdoors, time with friends/family, deep breathing, meditation, yoga and seeing a counselor/therapist if needed are all ways to help reduce your stress levels. Saying “no” is another healthy way to reduce stress. As women we often take on too many activities and by saying no, we can reduce the stress of feeling like we have over-committed ourselves. You can also keep a journal to help you become aware of what you are feeling and to identify any patterns/problem areas. Starting your day with a positive affirmation or quote can be helpful in this often negative world.
4. If you smoke, try to quit.
Smoking has been shown to increase hot flashes.
5. If you’re overweight, try to lose weight.
Losing weight can help with hot flashes. Losing the extra weight can also help with your overall health and well-being.
6. Get adequate sleep.
There are many ways to work on getting better sleep but a few suggestions are listed here: be physically active during the day, but not too close to bedtime; avoid large meals and working right before bedtime; avoid caffeine after noon and avoid alcohol close to bedtime; try drinking something warm before bedtime, such as herbal tea; keep your bedroom dark or wear an eye mask to sleep; avoid computer or phone screens right before bed; keep a journal next to your bed and jot things that are on your mind down before you go to sleep; if you wake during the night and can’t get back to sleep, do something relaxing until you’re tired again – avoid screens; if hot flashes are the cause of sleep issues, treating the hot flashes will usually improve sleep.
Menopause can be a time of challenge for many women but can also be a time of great joy. For many women, this time offers them the opportunity to change and find a certain freedom that wasn’t there before. Many women become less interested in what people think of them and become more able to speak up for themselves. Menopause can be an exciting stage in development, one that holds promise for healing our bodies, minds and our spirits.