I started noticing at the age of 47 that my body started to change. I became really hot and agitated at night and sometimes I’d wake up drenched in sweat something I hadn’t experienced before. Before the transition, I used to experience feeling quite warm at night and getting quite emotional at times when my monthly cycle was due and it normally stopped once my cycle arrived. I also noticed I was slightly forgetful and my hair didn’t grow as thick and noticed it was shedding on one side whilst the other side I had no problems. When I told my sister what I was experiencing, she said “it sounds like you going through Perimenopause Luce”. I said “What? What are you talking about? I’m still in my prime and I’m too young for that sort of thing!” she laughed but sure enough, big sis was right so I started looking into a holistic approach to combat the symptoms of perimenopause. I took up Kundalini Yoga and continued with going to the gym, continued to eat organic plant based diet and trying to continue to cut down on my sugar intake which I must admit I find hard certain times of the month. I also started taking ashwagandha powder, aloe vera juice, hemp seed oil, and more recently black seed oil along with a vegan powder supplement and I feel a whole lot better for it.
It’s important to realise that everyone’s transition is different in terms of length and symptoms they may experience as my dear Mum said she had hardly any symptoms (just experienced getting slightly warm at night but no sweats) at all and couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about. I couldn’t believe it when she told me! My Mama is something else!
Perimenopause can start at any time with women often experiencing menopause-like symptoms. It can last two to six years or longer and it’s at this stage the body’s hormones go on a rollercoaster ride. Many young women think it’s years away something you experience in your late 50’s and 60’s but some women can get symptoms in their early 40’s not realising their bodies are changing and they struggle with hot flushes, insomnia, headaches, migraines, aching joints, muscles and feet, weight gain, diminished sex drive and vaginal dryness. The psychological effects can include irritability and forgetfulness as well as anxiety and feeling insecure. The Sex hormones progesterone and oestrogen protect women from some of the stress hormones but as soon as the sex hormones naturally decline during this time, it can become harder to relax, keep calm, unwind and fall asleep. Unfortunately, for those women who are susceptible to depression or anxiety, this can resurface during perimenopause and may require medical help.
Practising Mindfulness and Self-Love
Practising mindfulness doesn’t stop the symptoms of perimenopause but it does help those who are affected to deal with it more calmly and compassionately. Sadly many women view their bodies as an object rather than an aspect of the whole self, with their thoughts around changing, depriving, comparing, cajoling, punishing or improving because of what society portrays in this youth obsessed culture we live in. These actions/thoughts are a lack of self-love and a lot of self-criticism that often accompany poor body image. This attitude can also lead to problems such as panic attacks, social phobia, post-traumatic stress disorders, depression and anxiety. Changing your attitude towards transitioning can be revealing in that it’s not often as bad as feared. Women who practice self-love have found to reduce perimenopause symptoms and have a greater sense of well-being. The process of self-love is realising your self-worth, being kind to yourself and seeing any given experience in this case perimenopause as part of life. This attitude allows the individual to put their personal experience and kindness that follow can help to improve their overall mental health and body image.
In my experience, practicing self-love, yoga and eating a balanced plant based diet during perimenopause has helped me to accept the changes and realise how amazing my body really is and how unique I am.
5 Tips on how to cope with being Perimenopausal
Watch your thoughts
I’ve wrote about this in my last blog be careful of your thoughts as you are listening! Positive thoughts have greater impact on our well-being than negative ones. one good way to keep positive is by keep a journal. Write down three things every day that you are grateful for it could be anything.
Laugh out Loud
Laughter helps us to have a positive mind-set. It helps stimulate our immune system, enhance our learning and memory and help us to cope better with stress.
Make time for yourself
I can’t stress this enough. Incorporating relaxation techniques into your day is important especially for this time of life as it helps relax muscles, calms the mind, promotes positive emotions, mood and improves concentration. It also can help reduce the symptoms related to perimenopause. Make it a priority even if it’s just 15 to 20 minutes a day. Believe me, you will see a difference.
Having a network of friends that are emotionally there to support you is key to health and can even prolong your life. At this stage in life women need other women friends with life experience and wisdom to share.
Mindfulness helps us put some space between ourselves and our reactions breaking down our conditioned responses. The aim of mindfulness is not quieting the mind, or attempting to achieve a state of eternal calm. The goal is simple: we are aiming to pay attention to the present moment, without judgement. Easier said than done first time round but with daily practice it will get easier. When you notice judgements arise during your practice, make a mental note of them and let them pass. Our minds often get carried away in thought. That’s why mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again to the present moment.
Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognising when your mind goes wondering off, and just bring it back again.
You are good enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, strong enough. Believe it and stop letting insecurity run your life. Embrace the change.