An interesting thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been tangoing with menopause. Everything is different and I do mean everything. Even how I approach exercise and chocolate has changed.
I had to do a radical rewrite on my own self-care playbook. If you’re a woman of a certain age, perhaps you relate?
For one thing, I need copious amounts of self care now more than ever. And I don’t just mean the massages and the pedicures. I mean emotional self-care as well.
The good news is this level of self care actually works. I am happier, healthier and at far greater peace than any other time in my life.
Here are a few of my own road-tested self care favorites.
A dedicated spiritual practice. I used to think If I worked had enough, and pushed hard enough, I would get what I wanted. As I age, I now believe in the power of a guiding force more than ever, and BOY does that make my life flow with far greater joy and ease! The drama has literally disappeared. Like … completely.
I put my practice into motion in a regular way, every day. For me, this means sitting in meditation as soon as I wake up, and reciting a collection of beloved prayers. One is my own version of the metta prayer, from Buddhism.
May I be happy
May I know my true worth
May I know I am lovable
May I love and be loved with ease
Brain.fm. Focus is a bigger problem than it used to be. I’m not retired and still work quite happily, but sometimes my brain just refuses to play along. I get distracted. I forget stuff. I call a backpack a pancake. That kind of thing.
When I’m working, a web-based app called Brain.fm has been a huge help. There are tracks for sleep, relaxation and focus. I pull up the Focus track, plug in my headphones, and find myself able to work along happily, easily, getting much more done.
Brain.fm plays binaural beats behind your choice of ‘cinematic music’, chimes and bowls, or sounds in nature like thunderstorms or beach waves. EEG’s have shown the beats work as effectively as meditation. I agree! Click here for a really good coupon that makes an annual subscription quite reasonable.
Chiropractic, Physical Therapy … and podcasts. When the simple act of waking up in the morning started hurting, I turned to my trusty favorites, a good chiropractor and physical therapy. A regular routine of stretching immediately helped, and I was grateful. But then I was told I had to ‘keep it going’, essentially forever.
My inner child stamped her foot and rebelled. I stopped. Not surprisingly, I started waking up in pain again. Then I found podcasts … a glorious way to stay completely entertained for the chunk of time it takes to do my daily stretches and exercises. Now I feel limber, and I get to learn things at the same time.
Smart phones are a great way to listen to podcasts, and many come in with built in podcast apps. Here are instructions for listening on an iPhone … and for an Android device. You can listen on a computer as well.
You may even want to listen to my own podcast, Before the Afterlife. It’s about healing, spiritual guidance and how to be happy before you go.
Flax Seed oil every day. I used to have hot flashes until I started eating my salad every day with a dressing of flax seed oil, lemon and a bit of lemon pepper. Hot flashes be gone! It also does some very nice things for your digestion. Buy your flax seed oil at a health food store, or a good grocery store. It comes packaged in an opaque or dark glass bottle, and must be kept refrigerated. You only need a few teaspoons mixed up fresh every day.
Note — I also sprinkle ground flax seed on my yogurt every morning. It has lignans, which have plant estrogen and antioxidants, and are just plain great for you.
MinChex. One thing I noticed as I hit menopause is that my ambition has completely changed. As I went through a sweeping life transition, I lost interest in a ‘million dollar business’. Now I want lasting love, peace, serenity, authentic work and ease.
And yeah, I still have to get things done. So in order to get a bit fired up, yet remain balanced and serene, I’ve been taking a supplement from Standard Process called MinChex. It helps support the nervous system, so you can move through your day efficiently, yet without stress. PLEASE NOTE: You must order these through a chiropractor or other health provider.
Superfood Smoothies. One of the great joys of my day is having a ‘milkshake’ made entirely of fruit, veggies, superfoods, and things like coconut milk and coconut water. The twist is I get my recipes from a fantastic cookbook that makes the smoothies taste absolutely delicious – even the green ones, which become very indulgent flavors like Mint Chip. If you avoid sugar, these can become your daily treat. And if you’re like me, you MUST have your treat. It’s sacred!
Limiting alcohol. This suggestion may not be popular to those who love their nightly Chardonnay as much as I did at the end of my first marriage. But there actually is a whole new world on the other side of the nightly cocktail. It includes increased vim and vigor, better sleep and fewer pounds.
It can be a push to get there even if you consider yourself a casual ‘just a glass each night’ drinker, but honestly, the rewards are so worth it. Try it for a month. You may find, like me, that you simply lose interest. I have now found my happy medium in one or two good glasses of wine per week.
Regular ‘me’ time. Even though I recently remarried, I still need my glorious pockets of time alone. Every morning I sit in my own little inner sanctum and tune in to me. What do I need today? Will this be a day to swim or take a hike? Which friend am I feeling moved to call? What issue do I need to call my Congress-people about? And what about that weird dream I had last night? All of it gets addressed when I sit with myself. Journaling figures in, and creative list making, too.
Yeah, I’ve always needed this. But somehow, earlier in life when I was rearing kids and working outside the home, that need receded. Happily … it’s back!
A good night’s sleep. Sounds impossible, right? I know! But lately, my sleep has been coming back. I attribute a lot of that to a wonderful little book I read called ‘Say Good Night to Insomnia‘ by Gregg D. Jacobs. I read this book a few years ago, and had to work with its various suggestions to figure out what worked and what didn’t. My top suggestions are keeping a sleep log, and using Sleep Restraint to retrain your bio-clock. Read my much more extensive blog post on this — 12 Great Drug-Free Solutions to Insomnia.
These are just a few ideas to get you started crafting your own Menopausal Self Care Plan. And do please let me know a few of your own favorite menopausal self-care goodies in the comments below.
Thanks, as ever, for being a part of my life.