Living LifeWise is a regular column provided by LifeWise Ambassadors – LifeWise employees whose healthy choices are helping them live better lives. Today’s column is provided by LifeWise Ambassador Deborah Hagge.
I am officially having my own summer vacation all year around. Whatever the season, you’ll find me in a short-sleeved shirt. I’ve been in the “season” of menopause for two years now.
I find it interesting that the women in my life rarely talk about what they’re experiencing as they go through menopause. Because my mother and older female family members live in another state, I wasn’t around to witness their season with them. I wondered if maybe lots of women go through this experience without talking or learning much about it — so I decided to share what I’ve learned about menopause symptoms and how to cope with them.
What Happens to Your Body During Menopause?
Menopause means the end of menstruation. Going through menopause has been described as being a 16-year-old girl again. You experience mood swings, hot flashes, heart palpitations, sleeping problems, memory problems and weight gain at a quick and erratic rate. In a single year I gained 20 pounds — which I am determined to lose.
When estrogen levels drop suddenly, this triggers a hot flash, which sends out a burst of adrenaline. It really feels like a flash, like a match suddenly igniting. Your upper body temperature increases by several degrees, and it can even make you sweaty. Hot flashes at night can interrupt your sleep, and not having enough sleep can make you irritable, anxious and moody.
Forgetfulness is another symptom of menopause. I heard ginseng is supposed to help with memory loss, so I purchased ginseng tablets. (My only problem? I keep forgetting to take them.)
How I Manage My Menopause Symptoms
I prefer to use lifestyle changes for treating my menopause symptoms. These changes include:
- Getting a good night’s sleep. I sleep with a window partially open, even in cold weather.
- Taking a daily supplement, which includes calcium and vitamin D.
- Eating a healthy diet. Recommended foods for menopausal women are soy, nuts, fish, yams, berries, flax, oranges, tea, greens and yogurt.
- Drinking ice water or tea. I was drinking iced coffee, but I gave up coffee a year ago because it made my eyelid twitch and made me feel anxious. I also gave up carbonated soft drinks.
- Drinking less than three alcoholic drinks a week. Alcohol raises the level of estrogen in a woman’s body.
- Exercising regularly. I prefer brisk aerobic activities, such as walking almost every day for at least half an hour. Exercise reduces stress, regulates sleep and helps you with weight loss.
- Walking five times a week or more improves cardiovascular health. Other forms of exercise that menopausal women may consider are core strength and elliptical training, running, swimming, cycling, yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates and water aerobics.
- Having my family do the dishes. Why? Because putting my hands in hot water sets off a hot flash.
- Treating myself to a massage once in a while, which relieves my aches and pains and reduces stress.
I encourage those of you who are experiencing menopause to discuss this unspoken season of life with other women of all ages. By sharing what you’re going through, you can help remove the stigma from a process that, instead of fearing or hiding it, we should embrace.
Deborah Hagge is a LifeWise Ambassador who lives with her husband, son and two cats.