Kathy Abernethy is a Menopause Specialist Nurse, former chairman of the British Menopause Society, Author of ‘Menopause: The One Stop Guide’ and Director of Menopause Services www.peppy.health. Here Kathy reveals her top tips to help you through the ups and downs of menopause mood changes.
“Am I going mad?” What is it about menopause that creates that question? The menopause is time of hormonal upheaval which can cause emotions to change. Women describe feelings of tearfulness for no reason, low mood, irritability and poor concentration. In fact surveys show that alongside poor concentration and tiredness, mood changes are some of the most bothersome symptoms for working women.
Here are a few tips to see you through this time of change
- Understand what is happening. Many women experience mood changes at this time. Your moods can swing back to normal fairly quickly. You are not going mad! Forgetting your shopping list is not the first sign of dementia – keep some perspective and use reminders, post it notes and lists.
- Be honest. If you know that your hormones are making you moody, let others around you know. Ask your family to be patient and to understand what you are going through. Listen to them and acknowledge that your first reactions might be hasty. At work, take time out if you need it– step out of the office for a moment, take a break.
- Try and get a good night’s sleep. When symptoms go on for a while, you may find you have many nights when you do not sleep properly. It is unsurprising then, if you wake up irritable and fractious. Make an attempt to keep to a good night time schedule, avoid stimulus such as TV just before sleeping and prepare the room as much as you can for a good temperature. This may mean a fan on your side of the room and an extra blanket on the other!
- Keep a healthy diet. Your diet can influence your mood. Reduce saturated fats (things like pastries, cakes and butter), increase fruit and vegetables and keep hydrated. Alcohol may seem like a good idea but can have an adverse effect on mood. Keep a check on your weight.
- Regular exercise encourages endorphins and helps you to feel good. Some women enjoy the group exercise programmes more than exercising alone and make friends too. Aim for 20 minutes three times a week as a minimum, but also build it into your day – taking stairs, walking faster and so on.
- Enlist support to reduce stressors. Additional stress will add to anxiety. Put a plan into place to identify what for you are stress points. Take steps to change them if possible or to manage them if they cannot be changed. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
Finally, do seek help if you need it, don’t put up with symptoms without understanding them. The good news is that help is now available from an innovate menopause support service. www.peppy.health now offers one to one telephone support from experienced menopause practitioners, empowering women to seek support and help when they need it the most. All advice is in line with NICE Guidance and British Menopause Society recommendations and best of all, it many cases, it is paid for by employers who value their staff and recognise menopause as a time when staff may need confidential and accurate advice.