Self-care has been a popular subject in recent years, but not everyone knows exactly what it entails. It’s not all about spa days and pampering. It’s about prioritizing your own mental and physical health. When going through the change of menopause or dealing with unusual life circumstances, self-care becomes even more important. To improve your overall wellness, we’ve come up with 8 ways you can practice self-care during menopause.
1. Eat a Nutrient-Rich Diet
During menopause, getting the right vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from the foods we eat is just as important as it has always been. Part of practicing self-care during menopause should include paying attention to your diet and making good food choices.
Eat a varied diet of whole foods with lean protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Avoid processed foods with refined sugar and limit alcohol consumption (which can also trigger hot flashes in some women). Some women have issues with menopausal weight gain, so they may need to consider weight management when making dietary choices.
2. Get Moving
Exercise should be at the top of your list when it comes to self-care. Being physically active has a long list of benefits that can help you feel your best during perimenopause and menopause. It helps relieve stress, gives you energy, builds strength, promotes good sleep, and is an important part of weight management. All of these things are important during the years of perimenopause and menopause. Exercise may also help prevent osteoporosis in menopausal women. According to the Office on Women’s Health, women should get at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days during the week.
3. Find Ways to Keep Cool
Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause that interfere with daily life. A good way to practice self-care during menopause is to find ways to keep cool. When you are more physically comfortable, you’ll also feel better mentally.
Choose clothing made of breathable fabrics like cotton and dress in light layers so you can adjust when you feel too warm. Some women recommend getting a portable fan to take to work or use in public spaces where you aren’t in control of the room temperature. If hot flashes are interfering with your daily life, talk to your doctor about ways to manage them.
4. Stay Hydrated
Drinking plenty of water is another great way to practice self-care during menopause. If you drink cold water, it doesn’t just cool you down, it actually helps your body regulate its temperature. Staying hydrated will also ease symptoms like bloating and dryness.
5. Get Outside
Getting outside is important to our mental and physical health. Even people who aren’t necessarily “outdoorsy” benefit from spending 30 minutes or so outside. Fresh air can be invigorating and getting vitamin D from a safe amount of sun is important to physical health. You can enjoy the outdoors by exercising outside or taking up gardening.
6. Try to Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is a critical factor in maintaining overall wellness. For most adults, the National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. However, symptoms like night sweats can make sleeping difficult during perimenopause and menopause. While you can talk to your doctor about managing symptoms that cause sleep disturbances, there are other steps you can take to make getting enough sleep more likely. Stop using electronic devices like phones or computers at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. Make sure your sleep environment is comfortable and wear cool and breathable sleep clothes.
7. Stay Connected to Other People
One of the cornerstones of self-care at any time is staying connected to loved ones. Make an effort to keep up with friends and family. Both extroverts and introverts need some kind of human connection as part of a self-care regimen. If you aren’t able to meet with loved ones in person, text, call, or schedule video chats.
8. Visit Your Menopause Practitioner
One of the best ways to practice self-care during menopause is to talk to a doctor about your symptoms. An OB/GYN or reproductive endocrinologist specializing in menopause management can help you manage and prevent symptoms. They can prescribe treatments like antidepressants, nutritional supplements, and hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
Dr. Karen Clark of Chapel Hill Gynecology is an experienced OB/GYN that specializes in menopause management. As a certified menopause practitioner, she can help develop a treatment plan to help you manage your menopause symptoms and improve your quality of life. Call Dr. Clark at (919) 960-2720 to schedule an appointment. Chapel Hill Gynecology is open for office visits (using recommended protocols for preventing COVID-19 exposure) as well as telemedicine visits.