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10 Ways to Lose the Holiday Menopause Blues
Join the Menopause Club
The good news is: You’re not alone. Nearly every woman your age is feeling it. And more importantly, you can do something about it.
First, recognize that holidays plus menopause may raise your stress level to something more than the sum of their parts. A 2013 report on the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) inMenopausefound that some 76 percent of U.S. women between 40 and 55 — prime menopause years — report increased tension and irritability, especially at stressful times like holidays.
In the perimenopausal stage, the time leading up to menopause (10 years to several months before onset), you may find that these menopause symptoms only get more pronounced when you’re under pressure:
- Lack of motivation
- Poor concentration
- Mood swings
On top of that, you’re experiencing hot flashes, breast tenderness, restless sleep, and vaginal dryness that makes sex uncomfortable.
When the holidays arrive with all their joys and stressors, your symptoms may be magnified, and you may find yourself engulfed in the perfect storm.
How to Find More Joy This Season
Take a deep breath and do not — repeat — do not cower beneath the covers. Though it may seem impossible to do so, you have to rally!
Try these menopause symptom relievers instead:
1. Share your anxiety with your spouse or partner. “Most guys just don’t know what menopause involves, and how it changes the way you react to things,” says my husband of 13 years. “We can be understanding and patient. But we have to know what we’re dealing with.”
2. Avoid alcohol and tranquilizers.Alcohol disrupts sleep patterns, and tranquilizers can affect balance and cause memory loss. Both can lead to addiction.
3. Nurture your relationships with friends and family.Connections make holiday celebrations worthwhile and help dispel loneliness.
4. Eat well.Try not to overdose on sugar and carbs, which can cause weight gain, interrupt sound sleep, and set up a pattern of eating more of the same.
5. Practice mind/body therapy. A 2011 study inMaturitasfound it to be a potentially potent treatment. Not only has it been shown to reduce body weight, but it also improves symptoms of depression — both of which are linked to hot flashes. Some studies have found that yoga, with its calming meditation, breathing, and physical poses, reduces anxiety and other symptoms. And a 2010Maturitasreview of research on mind-body therapies for menopause symptoms found that meditative tai chi may decrease the occurrence of hot flashes.
6. Simply exercise.Walking, gardening and raking leaves, playing tennis, swimming, and cleaning house for the holidays will do the trick. Daily exercise has been related to mood boosts and weight loss, which is in turn related to a reduction in hot flashes.
7. Consider phytoestrogens.Talk to your doctor about these plant-derived compounds. A 2010 study in The Journal of Nutrition showed that soy isoflavones helped increase a kind of gut flora that’s linked to improvement in menopausal symptoms. And research has linked red clover to a significant reduction in hot flash frequency.
8. Check out black cohosh. Used by Native Americans to regulate menstrual periods and childbirth, it's an alternative treatment many women swear by. Research to date has been mixed, but the is supporting studies to determine whether black cohosh might be an effective treatment for hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.
9. Ask about hormone therapy.To replace plummeting hormone levels that bring mood swings, headaches, and more, your doctor may prescribe low-dose estrogen or progesterone in the form of a skin patch, pill, vaginal cream, gel, or ring. Use them for the shortest time possible.
10. Always talk to your doctor before taking any supplement for menstrual symptoms, whether prescribed or natural.
One piece of advice not to follow, taken from an Egyptian medical text dated 2000 BCE: “If a menopausal woman has pain or makes trouble, pound her hard on the jaw.”
Find more anxiety-calming tips in our book500 Time-Tested Home Remedies and the Science Behind Them. They’re designed to help you run at top speed in the right direction this holiday season — with a smile on your face and joy in your heart.
The Remedy Chicks
Photo: Mark Edward Atkinson and Tracey Lee/Getty Images
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