Perimenopause: Finding Balance within Imbalance
Menopause and perimenopause symptoms leave some women with a feeling of imbalance. Beyond the physical imbalance caused by the shift in reproductive hormones, you may feel your life is spiraling out of control or that you’re bouncing between emotions without a valid reason why.
It is very common for women in peri and menopause to report an overall feeling of imbalance. Depending on what you’re experiencing, sometimes an imbalance is okay, which means acceptance helps you find balance within imbalance. For other women, finding balance within imbalance means researching wellness tips that help you cope with symptoms.
Perimenopause comes with a host of symptoms, but each woman’s journey is unique. What you experience will differ from other women, and that’s okay. We each have our own path to follow. That doesn’t mean you must suffer in silence. One of the best ways to find the right coping skills is to talk with other women who understand your needs.
Why self-care is important
The physical, mental, and emotional symptoms of perimenopause are a perfect storm set to unbalance anyone. Self-care is important during this time to help you maintain your quality of life. Self-care means being honest with yourself and others about what you need, what stressors are in the way, and how you can best take care of yourself.
Hormonal changes during perimenopause can be minor or temporary, or they can be significant and long-lasting, or somewhere in between. These changes can affect your quality of life, so it’s important to find ways to cope with emotional, physical, and mental symptoms.
Like the oxygen masks on airplanes, you can’t help someone else if you don’t put your mask on first. Putting yourself first during perimenopause isn’t selfish; it’s a good wellness tip that will protect your relationships with your partner, family, friends, co-workers, and others.
Wellness tips women find helpful
Each woman’s perimenopause experience is singular. It depends on your personal history, your life circumstances, and other factors, but many women experience emotional, physical, and mental challenges. Here are tips for dealing with common symptoms.
Women often experience increased stress and mood swings during perimenopause. Maybe you’re struggling to come to grips with your self-identity as a woman. Some women feel grief when they realize their ability to get pregnant is gone. This only adds to your stress level and mood swings.
Talk with other women about how they coped with the emotional side of menopause. You can also try these methods to see if one or more work for you.
- Meditation—You need not sit for an hour to get relief from meditation. Start with 5 minutes and work your way up to a length of meditation that helps you relax. You may find 5 minutes is enough a couple times each day.
- Exercise—Physical activity is a great stress reducer. Get out and walk for 30 minutes. Try strength training or a spin class. The key is to find something you like so you’ll exercise at least three times a week. More is better.
- Social support—Find a group of women you can lean on. Conversations about perimenopause are powerful medicine to help you feel that you’re not alone. Learning how other women cope with stress, anxiety, and worry can be a game-changer. Or find a supportive therapist or counselor to talk to.
The Mayo Clinic has a list of treatments you might try with your doctor’s help to alleviate your physical symptoms. Not all physical symptoms need medication; the following tips can make the more prominent physical symptoms bearable.
- Hot flashes—Many women experience hot flashes. The key is to find ways you can more easily deal with a hot flash. Try some of these:
- Dress in layers, so you can remove clothing when a hot flash strikes.
- Breath slowly and deeply, which can shorten your hot flash.
- Drink plenty of water to replenish what you lose during a hot flash.
- Turn down the thermostat; keep your environment under 70 degrees.
- Avoid hot, spicy food as it might trigger a hot flash.
- Look up for supplements and a hormonal balancing diet that help contain hot flashes.
- Trouble sleeping—You may experience insomnia during perimenopause, thanks to night sweats/hot flashes. Some women’s hormone shift causes them to wake up during the night. Here are a few things to try:
- Keep your bedroom temperature at 65 degrees or lower.
- Take a warm or cool bath to regulate your temperature before bed.
- Try sedatives. While this is not a long-term solution, it can provide some relief.
- Meditate for a bit before bed to destress and calm your mind for better sleep.
- Weight gain—It happens, unfortunately. The key is to expect weight gain and make a plan for coping with it. Find out what’s your ideal weight and the amount of calories you should consume to maintain it. Cut out alcohol, sugar, and processed foods to see if it makes a difference.
While some memory loss comes as a normal part of aging, you still may experience brain fog and lapses in memory. While frustrating and embarrassing, you can use the following tips to give your memory a boost.
- Diet—You are what you eat. Add plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables to your diet. They’re rich in antioxidants and vitamins that will help your brain function.
- Memory strategies—Use word association or acronyms to remember lists and names. For example, SHOT could remind you of street names (South, Hight, Olentangy, and Trine).
- External cues—Find a place for everything and always put things in their place. A nail by the garage door for your keys to hang helps you find your keys every time. Don’t be afraid to put notes about important information on your cell phone. Just remember where you put your cell phone each night.
How you cope with perimenopause and menopause is your own truth. Try some of these tips, and if they work, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s okay, too. You can lean on your support group of women friends for other ideas of self-care. Nurture those relationships, especially with women who are in the same life stage. They’re worth their weight in gold.