Self-care should, of course, be part of everyone’s life irrespective of gender, age or stage of life, and is something that women and carers seem to find particularly difficult to give time to.
During menopause, though, self-care becomes even more important. Not only are our bodies going through a significant change and all that brings, but it also happens at a time when women are often coping with lots of other things – work, children, a caring role. Menopause layers itself on top, and often means that self-care drops to the bottom of the list.
There is a saying: ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’. So true! Unless you take care of yourself first, you are not in a position to do all the things you have to do.
So, what sort of things can we do to refill our cup? These are a few suggestions:
- I think one of the hardest things is actually to find ‘space’ in our week for self-care. I make sure that for each week I pencil out at least one afternoon that is just for me – no work, no house tasks – and I try very hard to make sure nothing parachutes into that space. Give it a try.
- A spa break is a great way of refilling your cup. Or, if time or finances make this difficult, try a home ‘spa’ – things like a relaxing bath with candles or diffused oils, moisturiser for your whole body, and a treatment for those nails!
- Practise mindfulness. Not always an easy thing to do, but trying to be present in the moment and enjoying the moment to the full. There are people trained to help you practise the art of mindfulness if this is something you think you would like to try.
- Yoga – can have physical, mental and cognitive benefits
- Breathwork – helps to manage stress and anxiety
- Holistic therapies are great for relaxation and increasing your wellbeing. There are lots to choose from including full body massage, facials, Indian Head massage, reflexology
- Personal treatments like having your hair done or having your nails done all really help the way we feel about ourselves
- Relaxation exercises
- Meditations – help us to manage stress, increase our self-awareness, help us to focus on the present and reduce our negative emotions
- Keeping a ‘Pre-Sleep’ journal – writing out anxious thoughts and letting them go
- Keeping a ‘Gratitude Diary’ – picking out at least one thing from each day to be grateful for
- Spending time with a friend. Just simply having a coffee and a chat with a friend can really lift spirits
- Sitting in the park or the garden – being around nature is great for mental health
- Going for a walk – this has the double benefits of being outside and also getting exercise
- Watching a film or reading a book – both perfect ways to escape
- Pursuing an existing hobby or taking up a new hobby
- Essential oils have many benefits, whether used in a diffuser or used topically. There are lots of people who can guide you in what are the best oils to use, and there are some oils that offer help for menopausal symptoms
- Eating healthily – taking in lots of calcium from dairy products or dark leafy greens to keep bones strong
- Getting good quality sleep and rest
The list could go on, but if I was asked for my top tips around self-care, this is what they would be:
- Protect your self – care time. When you have decided when your self- care time will be, guard it against things parachuting in as much as you can
- Find what you most enjoy. You can’t do everything, so if you choose the things that you really enjoy, you are more likely to find the time to do them
- Accept that we cannot always be everything to everyone and that sometimes it’s ok to say no and to put ourselves first
- Lose the guilt of spending time on you – my feeling is that self-care is not just a nice thing to do, but that it’s essential!