How to take control of menopause
Menopause is an important milestone in every woman’s life. A natural stage of the ageing process, most women’s experience begins in their late 40s or early 50s and lasts for a few years.
With oestrogen levels gradually starting to decrease, periods become less frequent before eventually stopping completely. These fluctuations in hormones can result in a range of physical and emotional changes.
For some women, menopause passes gradually without any symptoms. But for others, symptoms including hot flushes, weight gain, depression and brain fog can feel relentless.
The good news is that there are ways to keep those hormones in check.
Read on for some easy ways to help you stay in control.
On the move
Keeping active not only contributes to maintaining a healthy weight during menopause. Those post-exercise endorphins, also known as the happy hormone, will help lift your mood and relieve stress too.
Aim to work out three or more times a week for around 20-30 minutes. Don’t go all-out straight away. Start off with ten-minute sessions and gently build up your movement levels.
Find an activity or sport that you really enjoy. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, jogging, golf and gardening, are great to incorporate into your routine as they help keep your bones strong and your heart healthy.
Remember to stretch after every workout. As well as improving flexibility, these wind-down movements will help you unwind and relax.
Well-balanced and nutritious food choices can help combat weight gain as well as supporting you through a number of other symptoms linked to this time of your life.
Hormonal changes during menopause can cause bones to weaken and increase the risk of osteoporosis. Dairy products, such as milk, yoghurt and tofu, and a range of leafy green vegetables including kale and spinach, are all packed with Calcium, essential for strong bones.
Make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D too. While the main source is sunlight, it can also be found in oily fish, like salmon, eggs and cod liver oil.
Focus on smaller portion sizes with a good mix of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, and fibre-packed wholegrain carbohydrates such as brown rice and wholemeal bread.
Watch your sugar, alcohol and caffeine intake as they can act trigger hot flushes and encourage insomnia. Opt for water or herbal tea and a piece of fruit instead.
Make time for you
Whatever your experience of menopause, it’s an opportunity to put a new focus on your health and wellbeing. This is an important time to take care of yourself. Give yourself the space to concentrate on your thoughts and feelings.
Talk to your partner, friends and family members about how you’re feeling – both physically and mentally. Give them ideas of how they can help and reach out for support if you need to. Make sure you’re having some all-important me-time too. Read that book you’ve always wanted to, explore a new hobby or spend time listening to your favourite music. Learn to say no more often and
take things at your own pace. Remember to be kind to yourself as you move into the next phase of your life.
For more helpful advice and important information about menopause, listen to the Annual Menopause Special with Dr Sally Cockburn on Saturday, October 12 from 6pm.
Advice is for information only. Always see your doctor if you notice any changes in your health.