Putting up with hormonal teenagers is bad enough when you’re in top shape, but when your own hormones are off the rails thanks to menopause, chaos reigns. And everyone’s at their very worst first thing in the morning, whether everyone’s in a rush or they’re refusing to drag themselves out of bed.
Getting your kids dressed, fed, and on their way is never as lovely (I’m being sarcastic here, of course) as when they hit their teens and your estrogen levels hit the floor. You’re not sure if you’re feeling hot under the collar because your family is driving you bonkers, or if you’re having the mother of all hot flashes.
How do you defuse (now I’m being quite literal) your home situation before it explodes? Is there another meaning for “nuclear family” besides 2.5 kids and a dog?
Get an Official Diagnosis
Any number of health issues share the same symptoms as menopause, and if you think you’re too young to be going through “The Change”, certain medical conditions and treatments can bring on early menopause. Co-existing issues, particularly anxiety, stress, and depression can compound the effects you experience when your hormonal levels change.
In short, you might have more than one thing contributing to the chaos you’re feeling inside, and those “things” aren’t necessarily scaled-down grown-ups walking around glued to their mobiles, with their faces covered in spots.
Take A Deep Breath
I know, I know. NEVER tell a woman (or teenage girl) to “calm down” but sometimes we just have to take a step back to collect ourselves when things are heating up. Our hair-trigger emotions can cause us to react in ways we later regret, and when we say or do things without thinking, we end up feeling horrible for days.
Want an easy way to remember to hit the brakes? Repeat after me: “Let’s put the ‘pause’ in menopause.” It’s ridiculous, but trust me… it will stick with you.
Before you leave your bedroom in the morning, do some stretches and deep breathing exercises. Read a chapter in your favorite book, or listen to your favorite podcast (assuming, of course, your favorite podcast isn’t My Favorite Murder or Sword and Scale). Whatever you choose, make sure it lets you wake up and find your center before you walk out that door.
Speaking of taking a moment, be patient with yourself as well. You might feel a bit addled; short-term memory loss is one of menopause’s casualties. Give yourself permission to take plenty of notes if you need to remember things, and practice taking your time with daily activities. Go ahead and tell yourself you’re practicing the art of acting on intention, and you’ll feel much better about it. Tell others, and they’ll admire your self-discipline and contemporary outlook.
Share Your Experiences
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and freaked out by your hormonal changes, imagine how your teenage daughter feels. She doesn’t have the experience or intellectual capacity to put things in perspective, but you do. If you let your daughter know what you’re going through—and apologize for being on a knife edge—you’re paving the way for her to open up to you. Neither of you should use puberty or menopause as an excuse, but if you support one another with compassion and openness, you’ll find it easier to cut each other some slack.
I learned this first-hand with my own daughter. She and I were at each other’s throats until it dawned on us that we were going through similar experiences. After we shared a good cry, we pledged to try to check in with one another in the spirit of camaraderie and support. You can even come up with an appropriate and respectful way for family members to remind you to “check yourself before you wreck yourself”. For example, if you’re beginning to get wound up, your daughter can say, “Excuse me… Mom? Are you feeling okay?”
And don’t keep the men in your house in the dark, either; they might be walking on eggshells, not knowing what the bloody hell is going on, or if they’re the cause of all the strife. Just don’t ever expect them to ask you if you’re being “hormonal”. They’ve likely learned the hard way that that question is a big “no-no”!
Take Care of Yourself
Here’s where I trot out all the trite stuff about diet, exercise, and getting plenty of sleep. It’s tired advice, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Menopause can cause disrupted sleep patterns, but do your best to keep a healthy sleep routine. It’s important right now to eat low-fat, fresh and nutritious foods, and regular workouts will do more than help you blow off a little steam. Exercise reduces anxiety, and resistance training can help improve bone density. Oh, and yes, you’ll also have more energy, stay trim, and feel better about yourself.
You’ll also want to take inventory of household and food toxins; as your hormones change, your reaction to cleaning products, fragrances, food additives, and even fabric chemicals might change, affecting your health and how you feel.
Ask your physician to make recommendations based on your blood chemistry: Do you need extra minerals or vitamins? Are you on any medications that counteract calcium uptake? Invest in high-quality vitamins and minerals balanced for menopausal women, and take them daily. I can help you with these, and for tips on avoiding your next breakfast-hour meltdown, learn more about my Stress-Busting Kit.
You’ll get through this, trust me!