Living in Menopause
It has stigma….. negative, unfair beliefs. It doesn’t have to be that way. Like many things in our lives, we can choose to think about it in a different way. What if menopause wasn’t associated with suffering? What if the process was more understood, more revered, more celebrated?
Did you know that the average age of menopause is 51? As a woman at the age of 49, fully in the midst of perimenopause, I am choosing my path with positivity. I’m don’t feel nearly as old as I thought I would when I reached this time in my life. When I think of myself the words that come to mind are experienced, vital, powerful, vigorous, and competent. I am the same me as I was when I was 21, 31 and even 41. Only now my body needs to be cared for just a little differently and more intentionally. Menopause is a change. A change but not an end. It doesn’t mean that my life is over. In this current time, people are living about 1/3 of their lives in menopause. And living is what I plan to do.
Experiences and symptoms of this change are wildly different for everyone. Some go through perimenopause and menopause as a process over a period of time. This is the natural and dare I say normal transition of the female body. Just like puberty, it is a time of hormonal change. Others may experience menopause abruptly. This may be the result of an intervention like perhaps an oophorectomy or chemotherapy treatment. Having a hysterectomy alone does not create menopause. It eliminates your menses but it does not stop the function of your ovaries. You will still experience the hormonal changes at some point in time. People who were born with female anatomy who have transitioned to a male gender using hormonal therapies and possibly surgical interventions may still experience menopausal symptoms at some point in their lives. I have not spent much time studying this and am interested in learning more as I am able.
Mindset on how you will manage this change in your body is the biggest indicator of how you feel during this time. This is the really same for everything in life. Yes, everything. When presented with a situation, your experience will differ based the way you choose to see it. You don’t have a choice in the changes that are happening but you do have some control over how you manage it. Educate yourself, seek out support, work with knowledgeable health care providers. You don’t have to sacrifice this time in your life. Live it!
Hormones are responsible for creating a well choreographed dance within the many systems of your body. They are little messengers directing the body for more of this and less of that. When this dance is interrupted, just like in any performance, it is noticeable. This can be detected with just a little focus and is not exclusive only to times of perimenopause or menopause.
Some things that you might notice in your body with any hormonal imbalance:
So now what do you do about it? The best advice I have heard is to “Control the controllables”. There is so much you can do in preparation and in response to the changes that occur in a hormonally changing body AND they are all the things that people are repeatedly saying in any “how to be healthy” article, book, news report, podcast, television show.
Now, let me be honest. When I look at that list, the “four pillars of health”, I roll my eyes. I think, damn it! What the heck? I know! Yea, yea, whatever! I have heard it ALL. Isn’t there a better answer? A magic pill? Something that will do the work for me because I am tired of trying…. And I am also tired of failing. And then after I stomp my feet and pound my fists I put on my grown-up pants and continue on. Because the truth of the matter is I love myself, in all my failures and in all my glories, in all my truths and in all my faults. That also doesn’t make it any easier.
“Nothing in the body happens in isolation” is an oh so important thing to remember. When you do or don’t do something, there is a response. If I choose to eat the sugary thing, my body has a hormonal response. If I don’t choose to manage my stress, my body has a hormonal response. If I choose to mindfully eat my food, my body has a different hormonal response. If I choose to set the scene for restful sleep, my body builds resilience. If I choose to adopt a breath and meditation process, I am strengthening my bodies ability to respond better to future stress. It is all relative and you don’t have to adopt it all at once.
Knowledge is power. The more you learn, the more you understand, the clearer your ability to make decisions, the easier it is to choose. That is my goal. My personal goal for myself and my professional goal for you. I am taking the time to do the learning. I am fortunate to have that ability. I am in turn, offering to share my knowledge with you, help you find a way to work through it all at your pace, at your ability, with your available resources. That is the piece that I see missing time and time again. Do this, do that. But how? If it was easy, you would have done it by now and frankly so would I.
For my information on how to get support, check out SEA (support, education & accountability) on the Holistic Health Strategies portion of my website.
Stay safe, be well, breath and stretch,
Have you been on your feet a lot? Definitely don’t underestimate the benefit of a good foot massage. For this you will want a ball. I prefer a tennis ball or a pinky ball. These have a little give and are still pretty firm. If the ball is too firm, like a golf ball or a baseball, it can really hurt and there is really not a lot of benefit or need in that. Make it feel good.
Bonus foot massage option: If reaching your feet with your hands is at all an option, they will love your tender touch!
Are you starting to feel like putty and ready for bed? Sleep well and feel free to do this all again tomorrow!
Be safe, Stay well, breathe and stretch,
Self Massage: All of your Massage Therapists and Bodyworkers miss you as much as you miss them. This is mostly because this is a time when massage and touch could be so helpful and healing. Thankfully self-touch can have it’s benefits. Creating blood flow and promoting relaxation is still achievable. Sure, it never feels as good as when someone else does it but hey, this is what we got to work with. This can be done throughout the day and you don’t need any props
Now…. Go wash your hands after all that face touching!
Be safe, stay well, breathe and stretch,
Okay! Let's try some more ideas for balancing your nervous system during times of change and emotion.
Upper Back Stretch:
At the middle and/or end of your day, take some time to stretch your upper back. When you sit at the computer, the tendency is to start to round forward. In reality, everything we do all day rounds us forward. It’s important to take some time to counter that position.
Alternate nostril breathing
If you would like an even deeper breathing experience, try this. It’s a great way to prep for meditation or have it be the meditation.
Be safe, stay well, breathe and stretch,
When all is said and done (whatever that means) with the Covid19 pandemic you will want to come through this time with the best possible outcome, right? There is so much going on and it is so different for everyone. Seriously! I don’t think there are two people who are having the exact same experience right now and yet there is certainly not a single person on the face of this earth that is not have some sort of impact. It may be small and you don’t see it but it is there. Or it may be the largest thing in your life right now and you can’t get away from it. One thing is for sure, it is more important than ever to take care of yourself right now. Here are some things you can do to relax your body, tone down your nervous system and get better sleep.
If you find yourself doing a lot of sitting it is so important for you to break up the day with some movement and stretching. If you are running around like crazy because work is overloaded you want to take small moments for centering and grounding.
Get up and MOVE:
Stretch your hips and calves: When you have been sitting for a long time, your hips are always bent and the muscle in the front get shortened and tight.
Start here and check back for more to come... tomorrow.
Be safe, stay well, breathe and stretch,
Life...... in the midst of a global pandemic. After only just one week of not working, new routines were forming. Settling in to a new way of life. A new speed of life. Yoga pants are my new best friend. I don’t know how long this lifestyle will be around nor does it matter. Now I don’t mean that it doesn’t matter that there is craziness in the world and that there are people who are struggling with serious health and financial compromises. That absolutely matters. My heart breaks for all. What I mean is that I cannot change what has happened. Although, I can change the future. And so can you! We have choices amidst the struggles. Sometimes they are small, sometimes they are big. Sometimes they are sad, sometimes they are happy. Sometimes they are obvious, sometimes they are really freakin' hard to see. It’s all OK.
Let me ask…… Do you like to play? Play cards, play games, play sports, play music, play the lottery, play it by ear, play the card, play on words, play dead, come in to play, role play, power play, play hooky, fair play? That’s a lot of play! (So much so that now the word “play” is starting to look and sound funny!) My point… (yes, Shannon what is your point?) With all that play in the world, how much do you actually think about playing or incorporate playing into your day? Honestly? No right or wrong answer. It’s all OK.
What does the word play conjure up in you? What is the first thought that comes to mind? Let me speculate…. Fun, silliness, care-free, active, joyful, recreation, engaged, competition, irresponsible, who has time for it, tiring, childish, not appropriate, annoying. Do any of those strike a chord with you? Which ones make you feel good? (Gosh, I am asking a lot of questions!) Cool! Just offering up a little opportunity for introspection. I love it. I love play and I love to feel good. It’s all OK.
I am a seriously not so serious person. I know when things are serious and I will work hard to assist with my best ethical and moral duties in tow AND I will find humor and fun in it all, somehow. Some people understand it, some love it and I know that it also can irritate people sometimes and I've even irritated myself on occasion. It’s ok to feel irritated and then it’s ok to ask yourself why you are irritated and then it’s ok to choose to feel differently… if you want to. And if you don’t want to, that’s OK too.
Enter stage left…… Play! Let it in, let it dance around you with sweet delight. What form does it take? Pick one that LIGHTS YOU UP. Give yourself permission. You have earned it. In these uncertain times, play is probably the last thing on your mind but I would argue that it should be the first. What if you were to set the tone of your day with a little play? What if you greeted your family, neighbor or your coworkers with a playful energy. Can you be sad with playful energy? Can you be worried with playful energy? You will alter the chemical patterns of your nervous system. You will feel a little lighter. Things will start to look a little more manageable. It’s all OK.
And then….. “PLAY IT FORWARD”
Let’s say you want some active play but you don’t feel like your body is physically able to play any more. We can't have that....stick with me now! I’d like to now introduce you to Doug Gray from Gray Institute. I met Doug and his father Gary about 10 years ago at a weekend conference in Boston. They wouldn’t remember me as I was only one of thousands of attendees they have encountered but I have never forgotten them. This conference was about physical movement principles and it was fascinating to me. Honestly, it remains fascinating to me. The energy of the presenters was contagious to say the least! They were serious about their beliefs, they had passion AND they were playful. Like, professional players. Every person in the room mattered. It was pretty magical. I have implemented many of their ideas into my work to help people improve their function. They are rock stars and they offering a free 30 day movement challenge that can be done right in your own home with no props needed. I encourage you (every body) to check it out. I know I will be.
I hope you are getting inspired. I hope you can get innovative. I hope you can get moving and by all means PLAY! It’s OK!