The symptoms of menopause can be a real drag. Between hot flashes, weight gain, emotional vulnerability, mental fogginess, hair and skin issues, and the many other common factors, menopause has the potential to impact our lives in a much more serious way than we anticipated. That’s why we’ve created this list of helpful tips.
We believe there isn’t any reason menopause should slow you down, and our goal is to see women truly thriving during these years. For more complete relief, supplementation is very often necessary. But these 9 tips are a practical way to give yourself an edge today.
1. Stay Cool When the Sun Goes Down
Hot flashes at night can last for minutes, leaving you uncomfortable with sweat, and unable to sleep. Fight back with some clever alterations to your sleeping arrangements.
Avoid heavy sleepwear. Those flannel pajamas may have looked good on Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke, but they will work against you when a hot flash occurs. Trade them in for cooler choices like cotton or light synthetic materials. Use the same strategy when it comes to your bed. Sleep with layered blankets that can easily be adjusted, instead of heavier quilts.It’s also smart to bring a technological edge to the fight. Use an overhead fan while you sleep, or keep a fan by the bedside for the moments when you need the air flow the most. It may also be helpful to keep an ice pack underneath your pillow, flipping for fresh cool against your skin, as needed through the night.
2. Don’t Sabotage Your Sleep
One of the most frustrating parts of menopause can be the struggle to get the sleep that you need, making this one of the most important tips on this list.
Don’t compound sleep difficulties by neglecting the positive sleep practices for all stages of life. Sleep is a huge factor in hormone management and health. This actually a few tips in one, but that’s because getting the Make sure that you’re going to bed and rising at the same times each day, so that your body can develop a pattern. Use your bed only for sleeping and sexual activity; if you want to read or watch the television, find a comfy chair or sofa.
Regular exercise is also advisable to promote sleepiness at night. Meditative exercises such as Yoga can be particularly beneficial to quality sleep. Just make sure to allow at least three hours between exercise and bedtime to allow your body to be in the right state. And pass on the nightcap, the alcohol may cause you to wake later in the night, and could even be a trigger for hot flashes.
Last but not least, controlling melatonin release is critical for restful sleep. The body releases melatonin (the sleep hormone) at night, and darkness is important in triggering this process. Sleeping in a completely dark room, with no electronic screens is important.
Many people use their cell phones as an alarm. Avoid this wherever possible, opting instead for a traditional alarm clock. If you’re concerned about not being able to receive emergency calls then set your phone to ‘airplane mode’, and select which numbers should still be allowed through.
3. Bone Up
The loss of bone mass unfortunately accompanies menopause in the majority of women. This loss can be a precursor to osteoporosis in later years. You can increase your calcium intake, in order to minimize these losses. Almonds, broccoli, dark leafy greens, and are all excellent sources of calcium.
Vitamin D (actually a hormone) is another important factor in maintaining healthy bones, and is produced most commonly by sun exposure. Supplementing vitamin D is a good idea when you don’t get as much sun as you would like. Smaller amounts of vitamin D can be absorbed from things like egg yolks or cod liver oil.
The last aspect of bone integrity is the correct type of exercise. Let’s face it, women’s exercise programs tend to go heavy on the cardio: Running, jogging, walking, swimming. But adding some weight lifting to your routine will do wonders for bone health. While you build lean muscle mass, you will have the added benefit of strengthening the bones below.
If you don’t have any experience with this type of exercise, don’t worry. We have an article that will help you get started: Beginner Workout: 10 Exercises for Beginners.
4. Write it Down
Be proactive instead of suffering passively through the unpleasantness of hot flashes. Write down the times, places and conditions in which your hot flashes occur. Alcohol, stress, heat, even the caffeine in your favorite Starbucks coffee could be a trigger.
When you write down the circumstances in which your hot flashes occur, you can begin to find out what tends to take you there. A little bit of knowledge about how your body responds, can go a long way to taking the guesswork out of menopause.
5. What a Headache
Migraine headaches have been known to worsen or originate at the onset of menopause. If you experience the development or worsening of migraines, this is another great time to take note of when and where they occur. Knowing is half the battle. You may even find that migraines occur in conjunction with your hot flashes.
Common migraine triggers in menopausal women include hunger and lack of sleep. Make sure that you’re eating small meals throughout the day and taking daytime naps to make up for any sleep that you may have missed during the night, especially if you find these triggers at the root of your headaches.
6. Hair “Do’s”
During menopause, hair can thin and shed more quickly. Do the smart things for your hair, by selecting coloring and care products that avoid the more harsh and damaging chemicals. It may also be a good idea to avoid extended exposure to the sun, which has a drying effect on your locks.
Unwanted facial hair growth may also occur. Keep your face soft and smooth with waxes, bleaching, or even longer term medical solutions. Talk to your dermatologist to see what’s right for you.
7. The Wrong Kind of Youthfulness
Are you experiencing acne that you thought had been left in your teenage years?
Acne is actually a common complaint during menopause. To reduce the effects of the outbreaks, it may be time to make a shift in the moisturizers, cleansers, and other facial products that you have likely been using for years (Don’t forget sunscreen!). Reach for the bottles marked “non-acnegenic” and “oil-free”. It is also good to look for products that have been formulated to leave your pores unclogged.
8. Don’t Forget
During the physiological changes of menopause, your mind should be your greatest weapon. Unfortunately, some “fuzzy thinking” can creep in for many. Women with more hot flashes especially tend to have more memory complaints.
Fight back with mental exercise. Challenge your brain in different ways. Perhaps now is a good time to pick up a new skill, or to learn that foreign language. By developing new skills and presenting new challenges, you help stave off encroaching mental shortfalls.
9. Don’t Go It Alone
Big changes and challenges of life always seem lighter when you share them with a friend or family member. Don’t let menopause isolate you. Talk to the people that love you. Tell them what you’re experiencing and feeling. Get advice from women who have already been through it, and seek solace and camaraderie from your support group. Reaching out will go a long way to helping you manage your stress.
Sometimes menopause can present certain problems in our most intimate relationships. For a candid look at the subject, check out our article "Menopause and Sex".
So which of these tips is most interesting to you? Which of these tips can have the most impact in your life?
We hope that you find something here that really makes a difference for you. With some confidence, and a little direction, menopause can be some of the best years of life.