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How to manage your wellbeing during menopause

What is menopause?

Menopause is the process a woman goes through where menstrual cycles come to an end due to a decline in oestrogen and progesterone levels. It usually occurs in women aged between 45 and 55 – but it can develop earlier in some circumstances – and is a normal part of ageing.

There are three types of menopause:

Natural menopause – this occurs when the ovaries stop releasing eggs and menstruation ends naturally as a woman grows older.

Premature (early) menopause – this is when a woman's menstrual cycles stop before the age of 45. It can happen naturally for no clear reason, or as a result of certain health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue.

Artificial (surgical) menopause – this is when a surgical operation – such as a hysterectomy or an oophorectomy – causes immediate menopause. 

 

What happens during menopause?

Menopause affects every woman differently. Some women have no symptoms at all, while others experience noticeable changes that can last for days, weeks or years and affect their quality of life.

Menopausal symptoms are wide-ranging – involving physical and emotional changes that can vary in duration and intensity – but the most common signs and symptoms include:

  • Hot flushes and night sweats
  • Problems with sleep or concentration
  • Tiredness and lack of energy
  • Low mood or irritability
  • Feeling tearful or overwhelmed with emotion
  • Loss of interest or enjoyment
  • Headaches, muscle or joint pain
  • Heart palpitations and feelings of anxiety

As you go through menopause, it's important to remember that the way you experience it is unique to you and perfectly normal – whether you identify with many of these symptoms, just a few, or none at all.

For more information on the signs and symptoms of menopause, please visit the NHS website.

How do I take care of myself during menopause?

  • Check-in with yourself

    Going through menopause can bring on a range of emotions – you may find that your feelings change from day to day and some days can seem more challenging than others.

    Take some time every now and then to assess your mood and make a note of any worries or troubling thoughts you may have. Consider what might be fuelling your concerns – perhaps you're experiencing new and unexplained changes that are weighing on your mind. You may find it helpful to keep a diary of your symptoms and take note of any patterns in thought, feelings or behaviour.

    It's important to acknowledge how you're feeling – increasing your self-awareness will help you to identify where you can make changes to improve your wellbeing and lead a happier, more fulfilling life. 
  • Make sleep a priority

    As your body adjusts to changes during menopause, it's natural to experience a shift in your sleeping pattern or habits. You may experience difficulty with settling in bed right away or find that you wake up early and are unable to go back to sleep.

    Prepare your body for rest by developing and sticking to a bedtime routine – heading for bed at the same time each night and allowing for between 8 and 9 hours of sleep. 

    Avoid using your phone, computer or laptop whilst in bed, as these are common distractions that could interfere with your rest. Wear light, loose clothing – such as pyjamas – to help you stay cool while you sleep, and experiment with having your room temperature between 18°C and 24°C to see what feels more comfortable for you. 
  • Exercise regularly

    Working your muscles not only helps to enhance your mood through the release of endorphins (‘feel-good chemicals’), it'll also go a long way in keeping aches, pains and joint stiffness at bay.

    To get started, choose an exercise routine you enjoy – that might be daily walks, perhaps a jog in the park, or a little Zumba for a fun workout that doesn't feel so much like exercise.

    However you prefer to get active, it's a good idea to pick something that feels manageable and enjoyable – that way you'll find it easier to stick to. Make fitness part of your routine by setting aside 20 minutes a day for engaging in a physical activity of your choice. You may want to block this time in your calendar or create a daily reminder in your phone to help keep you on track.
  • Try the menopause diet

    When you're going through menopause, being mindful of what you eat is particularly important – and making small changes to your diet can make a big difference to the way you feel.

    To support bone health, choose from oily fish, red meat, eggs or other foods rich in vitamin D. When it comes to strengthening your muscles and improving your energy levels, it's a good idea to include magnesium-rich foods in your diet – such as: dark, leafy greens e.g. spinach, broccoli and kale; green herbs like mint, basil and chives; bananas, avocados or grapefruit; and, low-fat milk and yoghurt.

    You may also find it helpful to eat little but often – say, every few hours – which has been known to help with balancing sugar levels, as well as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.

    For more information on the best foods to eat during menopause, please read Healthline's guide.
  • Make time for self-care

    When you're doing the things you enjoy, it becomes easier to think and feel more positive about things – and by building positivity into your life, you can change the menopause experience.

    Make a list of activities you can weave into your daily routine, to do more of what makes you feel good. For you, that might be enjoying a warm, relaxing soak in the bath; listening to an uplifting podcast; or, watching your favourite comedy series for lots of laughter.

    If you're short of ideas, you could always spend a few minutes a day practicing relaxation techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and gentle yoga. Allowing yourself space to unwind not only helps to clear the mind, it can also raise your level of happiness and increase your sense of wellbeing during menopause.
  • Stay connected with others

    Interacting with others is one of the simplest, but most effective things you can do to support your wellbeing during menopause.

    Having friends around can positively impact your thoughts and feelings – helping you through difficult times. Whether it's via Zoom, WhatsApp or a simple phone call, make a conscious effort to keep in touch with loved ones regularly.

    If you're feeling worried or anxious about the menopause, don't keep it to yourself – share what's on your mind with a close friend or family member. Maybe you've noticed a change in your mood, thinking or behaviour recently. Or perhaps you're finding it difficult to adapt to life’s changes. Whatever the case may be, speaking to someone about it can be helpful. 

Where can I get support?

Here are some contact details of organisations you can turn to for support with menopause:

Menopause Matters – for information and guidance on the menopause and managing menopausal symptoms.

Menopause Support – for free resources and access to the Menopause Support Network, available on Facebook.

The Menopause Charity – for information, guidance and support with all stages of menopause and managing menopausal symptoms.

Balance – Menopause Support App – for advice and guidance on supporting your wellbeing during menopause, tracking your symptoms, and access to personalised content.

Women’s Health Concern – for information and guidance on managing sexual health, wellbeing and lifestyle concerns during menopause.

The Daisy Network – for access to a support group of women who have experienced early menopause.

If you're feeling worried or anxious about the menopause, or are finding that menopausal symptoms are interfering with your daily life, get in touch with your GP as soon as possible. Your GP can assess your symptoms, provide a diagnosis, and advise on treatment including Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), which can help to relieve symptoms of the menopause.



Find out how we can help you

If you work, or have worked, for a UK bank and would like to speak to someone for help with managing your wellbeing during menopause, call our free and confidential Helpline on 0800 0234 834. We’re open 9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday (except bank holidays).

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