One hundred years ago, we weren’t living much past fifty, so midlife matters were hardly relevant. Now that forty-something represents halfway for so many of us, we enter uncharted terrain, which presents challenges on many levels for which we are simply not prepared. In our latest survey, 96 per cent of the women said they felt unprepared for menopause, and over two-thirds said they felt robbed of life as they knew it. As a result of a lack of knowledge about the journey we face, our attitudes are affected in many ways as we enter midlife. Those effects can be broken down into the messages that come from within us and those from the world around us.
It’s not all negative
Attitudes toward menopause can be both positive and negative. Some women are delighted that their periods are over and are happy to grow older gracefully. In contrast, others are horrified by the process, mourning the loss of their fertility and worrying that it will be all downhill from here. Many women are affected by the ubiquitous advertising and media coverage that sends the message that young and beautiful women are much more valued in our society than older, wiser women.
In our survey of women’s attitudes at the time of menopause, 80 percent of women surveyed were delighted their periods had stopped; but 40 percent were anxious and afraid of changes in their physical appearance, 37 percent felt that menopause signalled the start of old age, and 17 percent thought their partner would prefer a younger woman.
These results make depressing reading, but you can do something about it.
Once the physical symptoms of menopause are overcome (and yes! that’s entirely possible), fatigue is no longer an issue. The midlife years can be an enormously positive phase in your life. Let’s face it, as women, we are born with such a sophisticated body, even able to grown new human beings, but we have no manual, and most of us are never provided with a hormonal road map. Knowledge is key to learning to nurture yourself and step into that next chapter of your life, feeling like the best version of yourself.
The first step to changing the way you think is to learn to love yourself for who you are and to accept you in a different stage of life. The secret is to embrace midlife, not run away from it.
It’s time to create an action plan for you.
Create some me time
The key to an emotionally healthy and rewarding midlife is to examine the attitudes that affect you. Spend some time working out what your priorities and values are at this time of life. They may be very different from what they were ten years ago. Find time to get to know yourself again, as well as time to laugh and share friendships and nurture your precious sense of humour.
It is also vital to achieve a relaxed “headspace.” Both the physical and emotional symptoms of menopause are made significantly worse by stress, so relaxation and meditation techniques are a must. Try to find an hour each day to exercise, relax, or meditate.
Pat yourself on the back
Get yourself a notebook and keep a note of your daily achievements and lifetime achievements, large or small. It is all too easy to move on to the next thing, or even the next day, without acknowledging what you have accomplished. Acknowledge your success in the workplace or at rearing exceptional children into functioning adults. Again, we tend to fixate on our mistakes and things we regret. Making time to review your successes helps you build self-confidence. Read back over your notebook each week and congratulate yourself on how well you are doing.
Engage in Mutual Support
The rewards that come from helping make other people’s lives more pleasant are priceless. Team up with a friend who is also going through menopause, and you can give each other help and encouragement. You’ll be surprised how much of a buzz it will give you. It can also help to know that you’re not alone and that other women are going through menopause too and feel just like you. That’s the beauty of joining my Midlife Refuel Club: women come together as a supportive community, and it makes the journey much more fun.
Be future positive
Being optimistic about the future is more likely to bring positive results than thinking about how good things used to be. There is lots of evidence to show that those who see life as a glass half full, rather than half-empty, stand a much better chance of feeling content and fulfilled as they go into midlife. So, if your thoughts are veering toward the negative, indulge in some positive thinking when you wake up and before you go to sleep at night. Form a vivid picture of your happy, attractive self, going through the rest of life being incredibly positive, and start looking at things through these positive eyes. You’ll feel so much better about life!
Spend time imagining yourself in better physical and mental shape, looking and feeling great with good things happening to you. If you have children who have now left home, you might imagine re-creating the romance of those first heady days you spent with your partner, enjoying the company of new friends, or even starting a new relationship. Perhaps your daydreams will centre on success at work, going back to work, starting a new hobby, or fulfilling a lifetime ambition.
Whatever you focus on, make the images in your mind so realistic that you actually start to feel you are experiencing the situation. If you find this hard to do, try clipping pictures from magazines, or make a Pinterest board or a collage of some of your favourite photos. It may take some practice, but once you get the hang of it, it will become like watching a movie. Remember that people are much more likely to react positively toward you if you feel positive about yourself.
Live your dream
Realising your dreams requires effort. Some people say there’s no point in dreaming because you can’t control your destiny. But evidence shows that positive thinking and visualisation can go a long way toward getting you where you would like to be.
Take five or ten minutes each day to focus on your goals. The best time for this is first thing in the morning and the last thing at night, so start and finish your day visualising yourself just the way you would like to be — happy, fulfilled, looking forward to good things in the future, or whatever takes your fancy. Visualising is a fun activity that allows you to portray your life the way you want it and design your dreams. It beats sitting around, waiting for things to happen to you or just accepting what comes your way. There is a great deal of good living to be enjoyed in this new and exciting phase of your life, but you have to recognise that you are the architect of your life, not a victim of circumstances.
Are you feeling demotivated?
Have you lost your mojo?
Are you feeling tired and achy or old before your time?
Are you scared because you can't think straight or lose track of what you were saying mid sentence?
Have you put so much weight on and your clothes are tight?