Dealing with the menopause while coping with professional life can be tough but there are unexpected positive side effects. We show you how to breeze through a day in the office while managing the symptoms of menopause at work.
“With all the physical and emotional changes happening, it’s a time for self-reflection and a great time to look at where your career is going and how you want the rest of your life to look. Do you want to downsize or take on more responsibility? Is it time to ask for a raise?
“This is a time when you can really curate your career because you’re more mature, confident and experienced than ever before and we should never underestimate that wisdom,” says Priory consultant psychiatrist Dr Natasha Bijlani.
While the symptoms don’t always make for an easy day at work, with a little help from the experts, you can get your day back on track in no time.
1. Breathe into it: “Changing hormones can cause our sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system to become over stimulated which can lead to hot flushes and mood swings,” says Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, a neurophysiologist and sleep therapist at Nightingale Hospital. “Breathing deeply into your belly, especially when under pressure, can really help calm things down. Bring your awareness to your breath five times a day. Notice three exhalations when you first wake up, last thing at night, and then three times during the day – particularly when you start to feel agitated or a hot flush coming on.”
2. Don’t skip breakfast: “If you don’t eat before you leave the house you will be more prone to running on that fight or flight nervous system – especially if you load up on adrenalin substitutes such as caffeine instead,” says Dr Ramlakhan. “Eat something, even if it’s small, before you leave home.”
3. Go decaf: “Some people find that caffeinated drinks, including fizzy drinks, can make menopausal palpitations worse,” says nutritionist Fiona Hunter. “Switch to decaf or naturally decaffeinated drinks such as rooibos tea to see if things improve.”
4. Keep your cool: “A good tip for coping with hot flushes in the office is to put cucumber and mint water in a spritzer, then keep it in the fridge to use throughout the day as a face mist,” says integrative cosmetic skin doctor, Dr Terry Loong.
5. Talk it out: Talking to other women at work going through the same thing can be very helpful says Dr Bijlani. “Sharing symptoms and knowing somebody else understands and is listening can be enormously cathartic.”
6. Plump it up: Aircon exacerbating your drier skin? “Look for products that are high in hyaluronic acid which will help maintain and boost your skin,” says Dr Loong.
7. Eat watery snacks: “Staying hydrated can help with symptoms such as headaches and hot flushes,” says Hunter. “As well as drinking water, try snacking on watery fruits such as melon and orange. They can contribute quite a lot in terms of fluids and also have general health benefits.”
8. Spot treatment: “Avoid acne products aimed at teenagers as they are often too drying for menopausal skin,” says Dr Loong. “The aim is to reduce inflammation, calming the skin while boosting the skin’s hydration. Look out for Glycolic acid and Salicylic acid, which are also good to use to reduce the occurrence of breakouts.”
9. Tackle brain fog: “Back up your memory and declutter your head by getting into the habit of writing things down,” says Dr Mark Winwood, Clinical Director of Psychological Health of AXA PPP. “Keep lists and set up alerts and reminders on your phone.”
10. Walk this way: Walking a longer route to work is an easy way to squeeze in some exercise before getting to the office. “Hormonal changes can leave you feeling more stressed and anxious than usual and exercise can help by changing your focus and releasing mood-boosting endorphins,” says Dr Bijlani.
The ‘me’ in menopause
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