Menopause alone puts a huge energy drain and strain on your body. Add to that the stresses of daily life and, at some point, something has to give.
The generation gap
If you think about your mother’s and grandmothers’ generations and our grandmother generations, life was probably a lot simpler then. They probably didn’t go out to work, so they wouldn’t have all this rushing about and trying to fit everything into the day.
They would have had a much simpler diet, a lot less sugar, probably very little caffeine, and very possibly no alcohol at all. So it was much easier for their bodies to adapt to the changing hormones as they went through menopause.
You know what a woman’s life is like today! You’re multitasking from the second you get up until the time your head hits the pillow. If you work outside the home, you’ve got to get ready for work and then head outside to deal with everything out there in the big wide world. Yet you’re probably still looking after your family and might even have children still at home to care for.
All of this stress, worry and anxiety can have a huge impact on your energy levels. And by the time you’ve gone through the whole day in this state, your body’s ability to cope is pretty much shot.
When that happens, it’s like the floodgates open—symptoms appear, or those you were already experiencing during the day worsen.
What can you do to help yourself
So, what can you do about it? That’s a tough one. We can’t all just pack our bags and disappear, although I did read a book whose author said that all menopausal women should go away for a year and find themselves. While that sounds like a fantastic idea, it’s not too realistic.
The secret, if there is one, is to be mindful of what you’re doing and eating during the day, and being aware of all the other things going on in your life. Let’s have a look at them.
Water, water, water
Those of you who’ve been watching for a while will know the first one—it’s water. Really, really important. I can’t stress this enough, and I won’t stop saying it. The problem, both during and before menopause, is that estrogen has the ability to keep water in the body, so it’s very good for keeping your body hydrated.
When your estrogen levels fall, your body’s ability to hold on to water decreases, and that happens even before you experience symptoms such as hot flashes or night sweats. If you weren’t into drinking a lot of water before menopause, you will have lost your ability to hold on to water and you’re going to get extra dehydrated during menopause. Even if you always have been a big water drinker, when all these changes occur, you’re still going to need to up your water intake.
Water is one of the things that keeps your joints healthy and brain functioning right. It keeps your skin nice and soft and helps keep your energy levels up too. So remember to drink your water!
Curb the caffeine
We also need to look at caffeine. The problem here is that when you drink a cup of coffee, your liver needs around eight hours to process the caffeine. If you have a cup of coffee with lunch at noon, then your liver will be stressed until 8 p.m., and that can have a huge effect on your energy levels.
In other words, that mid-morning or early afternoon cup of java can actually be making some of your early evening symptoms get worse.
Keep your blood sugar levels stable
You need to look at your blood sugar levels, which need to be kept nicely balanced. Otherwise, you’re likely to get things like panic attacks, anxiety attacks and palpitations. Make sure you’re eating small quantities of food often, and of course, try to steer clear of sugary things because they’ll just make everything worse and drain all your energy.
Remember to breathe. I’m not trying to be funny here. It’s so important, because how you breathe affects your energy levels. By the time night comes around, if you haven’t been breathing especially well, your body’s cells can be virtually oxygen-starved and they won’t be able to cope properly with what they’re supposed to do, and that can have a huge effect on your energy levels as well.
Use Google or check out YouTube for information on how to do breathing exercises—there’s tons of it out there.
Make time to relax
Always being on the go can really drain your energy, which could be a big factor in what’s happening at night. It’s amazing how often I say to women, “Relax. Do some relaxation exercises. Take a break.” And they say, “I can’t. I’ve got too much to do.”
But in the end, they’re getting so fatigued and their symptoms are getting worse to the point where they may not be able to cope with the day-to-day things they used to deal with easily.
So take a half-hour to relax during the day, shut yourself away or shut yourself off: doing so will be worth its weight in gold in helping your body cope with all the symptoms that come along.
Little reminders help
These are all really simple things that you can add to your daily life. But I know how tough it can be. It’s no different for me: if I’m really busy, I tend to not breathe particularly deeply, or if I’m really engrossed in something, sometimes it feels like I’ve stopped breathing.
At work, I actually have a little sticker on my computer that says, “Breathe!” to remind me to take good, deep breaths every now and again.
That’s something you can also do if you find you’re not drinking enough water. If you’re not relaxing, stick a big relaxation sign on the microwave to remind you that you’ve got to have some relaxation time at night, maybe once you’ve cooked dinner or tidied up the kitchen.
And if you find that you’re forgetting to eat or you’re eating the wrong things, a little sticker on the fridge that says, “Eat well” might be just the nudge you need.
These tips can be a nice little reminder to help you cope throughout the day: you’ll be surprised at how fast your evening symptoms improve once you put these tips into practice.