Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I offer my advice on how to create a good support team in menopause.
Menopause can be overwhelming at the best of times. As I mentioned in my blog last week, with all the symptoms that you may be experiencing, it can be very difficult to cope with everything and also cope with general life.
One of the things I've noticed over the years is that so many women say to me that they feel so alone. They feel like they're the only woman in the world who's going through the menopause. They can't talk to anybody about how they feel or what they're experiencing. And this can be a huge burden as well as having to deal with everything else.
My advice on how to create a good menopause support team
It can be very daunting talking to other people but I thought today that I would give you a few ideas and things that you can think about in terms of having good support for yourself during menopause.
1. Firstly, it is important to support yourself during menopause
So many women are not even on their list of daily priorities, so this is important. And I have talked about this on many occasions. You must put yourself first. Your body is going through so many changes. It needs extra support.
It needs lots of TLC, and you're the first person that can help yourself. So, make sure you are adopting some good habits that help your diet, lifestyle and stress management. These are little things that you can do that can make yourself feel so much better.
2. Friends and family
Seeking support and understanding from family and friends is very important, but so many women tell me they find it difficult to explain things.
There is still this terrible taboo about being in menopause. And some women feel embarrassed or even ashamed to let people know that they're going through menopause as if it's some kind of weakness.
This is a phase. Menopause is something that all women have to go through, one way or another. And so, it's important to make sure that other people understand what's going on.
You may be feeling moody, irritable, or fatigued. You may find your motivation is gone and you don't want to do anything. You can't be bothered even talking to people. You may feel ill with joint aches and pains or headaches or other menopause symptoms. And what you need to realise is that your family and loved ones are probably really worried about you, and they don't know what's going on.
So sometimes, explaining to them very, very simply how you are feeling and what is troubling you can make a huge amount of difference. And it can be a great relief for them, knowing what's going on, and they can then support you, instead of being a bit irritated by your behaviour or less patient with you. So, it's really important to try and get our loved ones to understand exactly what's going on.
3. A good doctor
Try and find a good doctor. I know in these trying times, it is very difficult even to see a doctor. And women often tell me that their doctor doesn't understand what they're going through, which means they may not be able to give a great deal of advice and they may seem to be unsympathetic.
What you can do here, if you belong to a big practice, you can ask to change to another doctor, perhaps a female doctor. They may have more understanding, especially if they've been through menopause themselves.
Some practices have a nurse who specialises in menopause, and some local health authorities have menopause clinics. So, these are all avenues that you can explore, instead of feeling that you're not getting the right support from your current doctor.
4. A personal trainer
I know this is one that may be expensive for a lot of women. Exercise is really important during menopause but getting the right source of exercise for going through menopause is important, too.
And a lot of women are doing completely the wrong exercises and then wondering why it's not helping them with weight control or muscle function.
So, what you could do here is if you have a group of you who are all going through menopause, you could maybe club together for a few lessons, just to make sure that you're doing the right kind of exercise. And that can make a huge amount of difference.
5. Nutritionist or Dietician
Diet is so important in menopause and I have covered this in several of my blogs, including good foods for menopause and some of the bad foods you should limit or avoid.
But, again, for a lot of women, it can be daunting. Where do you start? What is considered bad food? What is considered good food? So if you are struggling, if you're finding that your weight gain is a terrible issue or if you're one of those women who's losing weight and you can't get it back on, then going to see someone such as a nutritional therapist or a dietician can be a good idea.
You may only need one or two sessions to get yourself on the right track and again, if you are feeding your body well during menopause, it can make a big difference to how you feel, both physically and emotionally.
6. A counsellor
For some women, menopause can be an absolutely devastating time emotionally.
It's not just about being in a bad mood or being a bit irritable. For some women, it can lead to severe depression, paranoia, and really serious other mental issues.
For some women, past emotional situations can also come back to haunt them. They can suddenly find themselves going over traumatic things that happened in the past, and this is all to do with oestrogen lowering our emotional control.
So, emotions that we have managed to bury quite happily can sometimes come to the fore and can often be difficult to deal with.
In this situation, it's really important to get some kind of professional advice. And, again, this can make a huge amount of difference to how you're feeling and how you're coping during menopause.
7. HR Manager
Things like having to go to the toilet a bit more often, having to deal with hot flushes at work, having to deal with tiredness, can all impact your work, which can become difficult if you're in an organisation that doesn't recognise or understand how menopause can affect a woman's working life.
If you have an HR department, then it's a good idea to go and speak to the HR manager and explain what's going on and if there are things they can do to help you, such as a few more breaks, flexi-time, a bit more support with temperature control in your office.
One of the things I found over the last few years that I've had contact with several big organisations, where I've been lucky enough to go and do some lunchtime workshops, is that they are taking women and menopause extremely seriously and the support they're giving their staff is absolutely fantastic.
If it's not happening with your work, then be the first one to instigate this. If you need any proof, then if you are in the UK, the TUC website has a section on supporting women during menopause and all the legal things that that may entail. So, it's worth looking into this if you can.
What you could do, too, is if you work with several other women who you think are maybe going through menopause or you know they're going through the menopause, then you can maybe set up a little monthly coffee morning or lunch break, just so that you can have a little chat and maybe a moan or a cry about how things are going for you and that can make a huge amount of difference, too.
8. Online resources
When I started going through menopause or getting to peri-menopause, I just couldn't find any good supportive information. Books were very often so technical that they went right over my head. And this was one of the reasons why I started doing these menopause blogs.
But today, things are so much better and there are lots of different online resources that can help you.
I'm still doing different video blogs every week, which you can explore in my blog and within my A.Vogel Talks Menopause playlist on our YouTube channel, which has over 200 videos, covering all sorts of aspects of menopause.
There are also lots of online forums and support groups like ones on Facebook or in-person like the menopause caf
So, I hope you found this one helpful. There are so many things that, you know, just take a little bit of courage, jump in, speak to people, set up your own support group, and the difference that can make can be tremendous at helping you through menopause.
I would love to know if you have found something that has supported you or if there's something you have done that's made a huge amount of difference to your life.I would love to hear about it, so please share.
Some key takeaways from this blog:
- You are your best support during menopause, so take action and don't think there is nothing you can do to help yourself
- Talking about how you are feeling or what you are dealing with can help friends and family understand what you are going through – remember how can they support you if they don't know what is going on!
- Explore other support options such as a personal trainer, nutritionist, counsellor etc.
- Consider joining online support groups to talk with other women who are going through menopause too.
- The more supported you feel, the better you can handle what the menopause throws at you!
So until next week, take care