“What is happening to my mind and body?” This is a question that I found myself asking when I first noticed perimenopausal symptoms.
It was like the “how to do guide” that I had developed over the past 47 years was no longer of any use. My body was changing and my mind was working differently too.
3 Perimenopausal Challenges
#1 Identifying perimenopausal symptoms
As I mentioned in part 1, we may miss the symptoms of perimenopause. Mindfulness is a friend at this time because it helps us to observe the changes. It also guides us into making the best choices for our mind or body.
Many of the mild symptoms of peri-menopause can go unnoticed. Even my experience of postural hypotension was not a concern to me initially. It wasn’t until it occurred on more than one occasion during the same week, that I became curious.
Night sweats and hot flushes, if mild, may not be recognisable either. A headache is another not so obvious symptom, although, for me, it was quite obvious because the only time I used to experience headaches was when I was developing a flu-like illness.
Sudden or new emotional reactions may or may not be linked to menopause, but in my case, I realised that my crankiness was.
Mindfulness allows us to observe our mind without being harsh on ourselves. It also gives us time to transform the energy into something positive, such as focussing on an important task for the day.
Please don’t think I am brushing over these milder symptoms. It takes great patience, practice, and commitment to refocus your energy on practical tasks and make useful lifestyle changes.
“It takes great patience, practice, and commitment to refocus your energy”
Severe symptoms include night sweats and hot flushes that interfere with our day-to-day function and sleep. Lack of sleep leads to all types of imbalances, including our mood, immunity, digestive function and body weight.
Other severe menopausal symptoms may include:
#2 Getting the right help
Severe perimenopausal symptoms may be eased by mindfulness practices, but expert medical and health advice is recommended.
The real gift of mindfulness here is noticing a change in how your body and/ or mind and then trialing a remedy:
- therapy such as meditation practice, massage or walking in nature, or
- treatment such as altering your food, acupuncture or a course of herbal or pharmaceutical treatment.
Some severe perimenopausal symptoms may be relieved by lifestyle changes.
Working with qualified healthcare practitioners is essential.
“Working with qualified healthcare practitioners is essential.”
#3 Accepting and living with change
I liken perimenopause to a journey that has no roadmap. Some may say it is more like an obstacle course! Yes, you get over one challenge and another one appears.
But don’t forget that the mountain could be seen as an obstacle, or the provider of a great view and sense of achievement when you reach the top.
One of the most practically challenging changes for me has been the loss of a regular cycle. It is like living to the Girl Guide motto of “Be prepared”.
And as your menstrual cycle becomes less often, you may find, like me, you do not relate to your symptoms as easily. It becomes more in hindsight, “Oh, that’s why I was a little tired, my lower back was tender or I had a dull headache”.
And getting your period may also coincide with traveling or a busy time at home or work, making symptoms less obvious too.
On a practical note, just carry sanitary items all the time.
What does menopause mean to you?
Menopause is viewed differently in different cultures and also by individuals.
It marks the end of a big chapter in a woman’s life—our reproduction function is coming to a close.
This is a significant time and may bring unfulfilled dreams, unresolved trauma or loss to the surface. Mindfulness will allow you to separate these issues out from the physical changes that are occurring in your body. And please seek professional support to help resolve personal issues.
The end of childbirth potential can also be a time of celebration for women. For the first time in their adult lives, they are free of this responsibility and can put more attention and focus on their individual life purpose. Ayurveda, the oldest known medical system from India, promotes this for women.
Perimenopause and menopause are a definite time of change for women and their loved ones. Whilst peri-menopausal women need support, so do their partners and families.
It is a time for self-compassion as well as building an attitude of “I’m on an adventure”. At times we may not know what our end point is, but I believe if we stay focused on taking care of ourselves along the way, the endpoint becomes less of a concern.
Eating well can ease perimenopausal symptoms. You might like to take a look at the mindful eating introductory course, here.
The Jean Hailes Foundation website provides general information on perimenopause and menopause.