While it’s true every person’s menopause experience is different, knowing how to successfully manage the bodily changes that accompany this stage of life has the potential to be both frustrating and isolating. It’s for this reason self-care during this time is so important.
To better understand how self-care can help you navigate this transition and to find out what works for some, we asked five women who have experienced menopause to share their tips. Here’s what they had to say.
Health and wellness touch everyone’s life differently. We asked a few people to share their personal stories. These are their experiences.
What does self-care mean to you, and why is it so important during menopause?
Jennifer Connolly: Self-care means ensuring I make the time to have my physical, emotional, and spiritual needs met. So often women are caregivers for their children or spouse, only to find themselves caretaking their aging parents while they’re going through menopause.
During menopause, our bodies are changing, and it’s very important that we shift some of that focus of caretaking onto ourselves. It could mean even 10 minutes a day for a meditation or journaling, a nice bath, or taking time to meet with a girlfriend.
Karen Robinson: To me, self-care means being honest with myself, dealing with the stresses in my life, creating new habits to get myself back to the person I was before menopause, prioritizing some “me time” to pursue hobbies, and engaging in calming activities such as meditation.
Self-care is having a positive mindset, sleeping well, exercising, looking after my physical and mental health, and eating healthily to give my body a chance to deal with midlife changes.
Maryon Stewart: Women so famously get drawn to help everyone else in their lives, often neglecting their own needs. Menopause is a time when they need, for once, to focus on learning to meet their own needs if a smooth journey through menopause is what they have in mind.
Adequate knowledge about the self-help tools, supported by research, is as important as application. Learning how to meet our needs and looking after ourselves at midlife is the key to reclaiming our well-being and “future-proofing” our health.
What are some things you did for self-care during menopause?
Magnolia Miller: For me, self-care during menopause included dietary changes and doing everything in my power to ensure that I got enough sleep at night. I also understood the value of exercise to help shake off the stress of what was happening in my body. I did all of those things in spades.
Perhaps, however, the most helpful thing I did for myself under the banner of “self-care” was to speak up for myself and my needs without apology. If, for example, I needed time alone away from my children and husband, I didn’t bring any guilt with me into that time.
I also became confident in my ability to say no if I felt demands on my time and life were creating unnecessary stress. I began to realize that I didn’t have to show up to every request of me, and I no longer felt obligated to help someone else feel comfortable with my decision.
Ellen Dolgen: My daily self-care routine includes exercising (walking and resistance training), following a clean and healthy eating program, meditating twice a day, and learning to say no so I’m not biting off more than I can chew. I also try to spend as much time as possible with my grandchildren, and lunches with my girlfriends are a must!
I’m also a huge fan of preventive medicine, so my other self-care routine involves a yearly visit with my menopause specialist and filling out my menopause symptoms chart. I also keep up to date with other exams, such as mammograms, colonoscopy, bone density scan, and even eye exams.
Stewart: My menopause began when I was 47, which I wasn’t expecting at all. When I started feeling hot, I brushed it off as stress related, as I was going through a divorce at the time. Eventually, I had to admit it was my hormones at play.
I made myself accountable by keeping a diet and supplement diary along with symptom scores each day. I was already exercising, but I was terrible at relaxing. Because of some of the research I had read on formal relaxation reducing hot flashes, I decided to try guided meditation with the Pzizz app. This made me feel recharged and cooler.
The supplements I chose also helped to control the thermal surges and normalize my hormone function. I managed to get my symptoms under control within a few months.
Connolly: During menopause, I took up daily meditation and began to focus on eating organic foods. I started to apply moisturizer to my whole body after every shower to counteract my dry skin. I had trouble sleeping at night, so I gave myself permission to lay down with a book in the afternoon to rest and often had a short nap.
I’m also not ashamed to say I spoke with my doctor and began taking an antidepressant to deal with the depression brought on by a shift in hormones.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone currently undergoing menopause in regards to self-care?
Connolly: Be gentle with yourself, and listen to what your changing body needs. If you feel stressed, find someone to talk to. If you’re concerned with putting on weight, up your exercise and pay attention to the extra calories you may be eating unconsciously. But make sure you’re patient with yourself and your body. Oh, and sleep in cotton! Those night sweats can be wild!
Miller: I’d tell her first that menopause is a transition and not a life sentence. The changes of menopause can be so intense and seem never-ending. This can make it feel as though you’ll never feel “normal” again. But you will.
In fact, once actual menopause is reached, not only will [some women] feel “normal” again, but [for some] there’s a wonderful, renewed sense of self and life energy. While it’s true that our youth is behind us, and this can be a cause for mourning and loss for some women, it’s also true that freedom from menstrual cycles and all of the accompanying physical difficulties is equally exhilarating.
For many women, their postmenopausal years are some of their happiest and most productive, and I’d encourage women to embrace these years with passion and purpose.
Robinson: Don’t stop looking after yourself at the exact time in your life that you need to care for yourself the most.
Dolgen: Create a list of realistic and achievable self-care practices for yourself. Next, find a good menopause specialist who’s up on the latest science and studies. This specialist is your menopause business partner, so make sure to choose wisely.
It’s possible to feel great in perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause if you get the help that you need and deserve!
Jennifer Connolly helps women over 50 become their confident, stylish, and best selves through her blog, A Well Styled Life. A certified personal stylist and image consultant, she believes wholeheartedly that women can be beautiful and confident at every age. Jennifer’s deeply personal stories and insights have made her a trusted friend to thousands of women throughout North America and the world. Jennifer has been searching for the perfect foundation shade since 1973.
Ellen Dolgen is the founder and president of Menopause Mondays and is a principal of Dolgen Ventures. She’s an author, blogger, speaker, and health, wellness, and menopause awareness advocate. For Dolgen, menopause education is a mission. Inspired by her own experience struggling with the symptoms of menopause, Dolgen has devoted the last 10 years of her life to sharing the keys to the menopause kingdom on her website.
Over the last 27 years, Maryon Stewart has helped tens of thousands of women all around the world reclaim their well-being and overcome PMS and menopause symptoms. Stewart has written 27 popular self-help books, co-authored a series of medical papers, written regular columns for numerous daily newspapers and magazines, and had her own TV and radio shows. She also received the British Empire Medal in 2018 for services to drug education following her successful seven-year campaign at the Angelus Foundation, which she established in memory of her daughter, Hester.
Karen Robinson lives in the North East of England and blogs about menopause on her website MenopauseOnline, guest blogs on health sites, reviews menopause-related products, and has been interviewed on TV. Robinson is determined that no woman should be left alone to cope during perimenopause, menopause, and the years beyond.
Magnolia Miller is a women’s health and wellness writer, advocate, and educator. She has a passion for women’s midlife health issues related to the transition of menopause. She holds a master’s degree in health communication and is certified in healthcare consumer advocacy. Magnolia has written and published online content for numerous sites around the world and continues to advocate for women on her website, The Perimenopause Blog . There she writes and publishes content on issues pertaining to women’s hormone health.