What have you heard about perimenopause? If it's been one bad thing after another, then you're not alone. This natural transition that moves women into menopause is a powder keg of confusion and fear. It also thrives on word of mouth and old wives tales. We can blame the confusion part on the fact that a lot of us weren't raised to know there was even such a thing called perimenopause. The fear part is based on what we've learned to expect about menopause, often from our mothers and the media and that's that we should brace ourselves for a brutal chapter that begins a slippery slope to the end.
My experience though might give you some new ways of looking at it. I think of perimenopause as an opportunity to become an expert on our health and wellbeing. Instead of listening to old wives tales, I take the position that my experience is unique for me and I deal with things as they come.
My tact is exactly the "prescription" that Dr. Christiane Northrup, the "guru" of women's health suggests for women at midlife. She considers perimenopause a time when our bodies give us distinct messages of where we're at, physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. If there's any cracks, this is when they're going to surface. The big challenge of perimenopause is about making one of three choices. We can try and ignore and changes that come up, we can deal with them on a surface level or we can really dig in and make big change. I choose the latter option and consider any cracks that come up an awesome opportunity for growth.
Here are 10 ways to experience a positive perimenopause
1. Become an online explorer
There are a huge amount of resources online from community groups to doctors delivering breakthrough information. The Internet has been a game-changer for how we think about perimenopause.
2. Recognize perimenopause is a natural process
When our bodies start preparing for menopause, it isn't a disease. However that's the way it's treated. A great way to rewire our thinking about our health is to trust in the wisdom of our bodies and their process. I look to nature for guidance and see rejuvenation and reinvention all around me and that's the mindset that I bring to this stage in life.
3. Become a great patient
When I go to the doctor, I come prepared. I keep a journal that has tracked my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. I know exactly what questions to ask and I get myself up to speed so I am as briefed as possible. Doctors only have a very short amount of time so I'm respectful of this and am able to explain what's going on and where I need support accordingly.
4. Find a doctor who understands perimenopause
I had to work out that I was going through perimenopause on my own. Five years ago when I realized I was going through it, this was just not common subject matter between doctors and patients. While things have changed somewhat, women at midlife are one of the least researched groups and many doctors are hamstrung by the constraints of their country's medical associations as far as what kind of treatments they can offer. There are many ways to effectively treat symptoms of perimenopause but it's important to choose a doctor who straddles both traditional and non-traditional philosophies. Once again, the Internet is the perfect place to source doctors. You might even be able to find non-biased reviews of doctors online.
5. I rarely watch news or read magazines
Most mainstream content is fear based. Big news stories that really impact our lives will always find us regardless of whether we watch the news or not. But for every day media input, I find that reducing the amount I take in has a significant effect on my outlook and energy.
6. I question everything I've been told
Let's face it, the generation we were brought up in simply did the best they could when it came to what's possible for women over 40, let alone women in general! So we got a lot of misinformation disguised as fact when it comes to this time in our life. Questioning your beliefs is an awesome thought process and a great place to start is to ask yourself how you feel about menopause. If it brings up bad feelings, start the process by asking yourself, "Where did I learn that?" or "Who says?".
7. I look for great midlife role models
I have always looked to older women for guidance. There is nothing more inspiring to knowing someone has been there and done that in the way that you'd like to. If you don't have real life women to aspire to, online provides plenty of passionate and vocal role models of every color, creed and vocation.
8. I treat my body with compassion
Rather than see my body as an enemy, I feel incredibly grateful for the support it provides me. I feel fascinated with the process of midlife and give myself a break for the changes that come along. Rather than berate myself for aging, I marvel at how my body functions and can improve.
9. I follow cycles
Perimenopause, the time when we're still menstruating is proof of our body's reliance on a cycle. Even though there will come a time when this particular cycle will wane, I enjoy being able to support the rhythm of nature. I do this simply by observing full and new moon cycles and by doing my best to get a good night's sleep.
10. I practice extreme self care
More than ever, this is a time in life where I put my self care first. Whether it's ensuring that I do my daily yoga practice or keep healthy boundaries in place, perimenopause is the perfect time to practice the art of putting the oxygen mask on ourselves first.
So those are my 10 ways of experiencing a positive perimenopause. What do you do to look after yourself during this stage of life? Post a comment below.
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(price as of Aug 27, 2014)