You may know a lot about the physical effects of menopause, but how much have you heard about its cognitive and psychological impacts? The mental health implications of this transition are just as real as the bodily ones and just as manageable with good information and support.
Confidence and Self-Esteem
In our youth-idolizing culture, changes that come with menopause can have repercussions for your sense of self-worth. First, you may experience a generalized sense that “everything” about your body is changing – in ways you don’t particularly like. This feeling can bring up a lot of inner criticism. However, reminding yourself of your body’s strengths and good qualities can help rebuild a sense of self-love and approval. If your body image deeply affects your self-esteem, menopause weight gain might negatively impact your confidence. Luckily, healthful habits are just as effective against weight gain in menopause as they are in any other life stage. Furthermore, menopause might be an opportunity for you to stop worrying about how well you fit other people’s standards and start focusing on the values that fit you.
Battling The Meno-Fog
Several years before the onset of menopause, you may find your ability to concentrate or think clearly is already affected by the hormonal changes of this transition. This fuzzy-headed feeling is commonly referred to as “brain fog,” and it’s very common to experience it throughout your perimenopause years. While estrogen therapy helps many women with this symptom, there are also non-medical approaches you can take to support your cognitive health. Improving the amount and quality of restful sleep you get can do wonders for your mental clarity during the day. Another effective technique for increasing focus is to abandon multi-tasking. This can be a hard thing for women to do because juggling our family and work lives has demanded multi-tasking for so long. You may even find that applying all your attention to one thing at a time is harder after years of doing three things at once. However, mastering the art of “uni-tasking” can make you calmer and more productive.
Calming Anxiety During Menopause
Midlife challenges can create a lot of anxiety that, while not caused by menopause, can be exacerbated by menopausal symptoms. Naturally, a stage when you may start to question life choices or see your family responsibilities change can cause increased uncertainty. After years of worrying about your kids, your marriage, your aging parents, and your job, you now have your own health concerns to fret over. On top of this, the legendary hot flashes of menopause are associated with feelings of anxiety or even panic for reasons that aren’t fully understood. Stress management techniques such as deep breathing and mindfulness can help you cope with acute anxiety attacks, while vigorous exercise can help burn off excess adrenaline. You should also ask your doctor whether medication or estrogen therapy could help.
While many self-care approaches can boost your mental wellbeing throughout menopause, sometimes you need to take advantage of outside support. First, you should be talking with a gynecologist or other qualified physician about the correct treatment for any bothersome symptoms related to menopause. Never underestimate the benefits relief of physical symptoms can have on your mental health. Secondly, do not hesitate to seek counseling from a qualified therapist when you feel unable to cope by yourself. Asking for help isn’t a weakness; it’s a sign you’re open to every strategy for preserving your strength.
If you’re currently experiencing the multitude of changes associated with menopause, the physical symptoms may have absorbed most of your attention. However, the mental and emotional transformations can be equally compelling—and sometimes equally disruptive. The menopause transition is an excellent time to re-energize your commitment to your mental health and to take concrete actions to support it.
About the Author: Carol Evenson is a loving mother of three, an aspiring writer, and a social activist. She enjoys educating and learning and loves sharing her knowledge with her family and friends.
July is BIPOC Mental Health Month
Observed each July and formerly recognized as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, BIPOC Mental Health Month highlights the unique mental health challenges and needs of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC). Please join us in recognizing the struggles of BIPOC and bringing awareness to the need for adequate, accessible, culturally relevant mental health treatment, care, and services.
www.rtor.org and its sponsor Laurel House are committed to the advancement of racial equity and social justice and to making mental health services available to all.
The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.
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