It's not your fault. You've been programmed to think that you're not good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, or perfect enough. It's on the cover of Photoshop-ed magazines at the grocery store, reinforced on TV, and referred to in current -- and unfortunately catchy -- songs that objectify women. So much of what surrounds us today is appearance-driven, and there's a natural tendency to adapt to our surroundings. This unfortunate marriage between societal pressures and our brains has birthed a critical voice in our heads telling us that we are quite simply not good enough. Picture a sumo wrestler sitting on your brain. He is huge, powerful and controlling (and heavy!), but does he wrestle you down or are you tripping over your own shoelaces? It's never too late to reevaluate the budget of your energy wallet, and make sure that sumo isn't taking more than he's owed!
Have you ever tried to silence the sumo with a louder voice telling yourself not to think so much? Over-thinking is something many women do and have done their entire lives. That sumo is only reinforcing negative thoughts, impairing problem solving and throwing a wrench into everyday life. When women enter menopause, several of their symptoms can work together to create a menopause monster. Weight gain and insomnia can partner with depression to make a tornado of negative thoughts and feelings that seems impossible to diffuse. Society's obsession with slowing down the aging process is unhealthy, yet difficult to avoid. It's easy to slip into an energy-sucking ocean of negative thoughts when you're in a sinking boat. Stewing over a hot flash can bring you to an archive of bad feelings you've had in your journey through menopause, leading to an unproductive, negative self-reflection, and confusion, and if there's one thing you don't need more of when you're in menopause, it's confusion!
Your sumo wrestler erodes your ability to solve problems by keeping you fixated on the analysis phase. So how can you think positive, take action, and re-purpose your energy to achieve hormone happiness in menopause?
Do not suffer in silence.
Remember, 50 million women are currently in menopause in the United States. You are not alone. Find a perimenopause and menopause specialist to be your menopause partner. Reach out to your friends and family, and consider throwing a Menopause Party. Sharing your experiences with other women who are going through it is not only a wonderful source of comfort, but it can boost your self-esteem. Get the help and support you deserve.
Put yourself on the top of your to-do list.
Make time for you! Take time to pamper yourself -- read a book, grab lunch with a friend, take a long, luxurious bubble bath or go to the movies. Whatever you do, enjoy it.
Be mindful of healthy eating. CNN reports that this will help balance out your plummeting metabolism, mood swings and might even help you sleep better. According to MSN Health, metabolism does slow with age. Find a form of exercise that makes you feel good. Call a friend and go for a walk or a bike ride or join that gym that you've been avoiding. Release some endorphins -- it feels good and Reuters says modest exercise will also help lower your blood pressure.
Be less self-critical and more proactive.
Send your sumo packing! Listen to your body and start recording your symptoms in a Menopause Symptoms Chart. Then take this chart with you to your perimenopause and menopause specialist so that your doctor will understand exactly how you are feeling and be able to develop a personalized program for you.
Imagine your negative thoughts as bubbles floating by that you can acknowledge as you please and pop when you want. It's difficult to control your thoughts, especially when they are reinforced by everyday norms. You will find when you shrink your sumo, you spend less energy on feeling terrible, refocusing it on finding solutions and celebrating your happiness and progress.
Try to live sumo free!
Remember: Reaching out is in. Suffering in silence is out!
"E" is the pen name of Ellen Sarver Dolgen, author of Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness -- a cut-to-the-chase book on perimenopause and menopause, filled with crucial information and hilarious and heartfelt stories. It condenses a confusing, daunting medical topic into an easy-to-understand, purse-sized guide which can be used as a reference throughout your PM&M experience. Reading Shmirshky is like getting a big, comforting hug from a dear friend, who happens to know a lot about menopause!