10 Things You Can Do Today to befriend the Perimenopause Beast
Call them symptoms, or call them dimensions of a natural process, the night sweats, bouts of rage, depression, and other “gifts” of this life stage call for relief. Hormone replacement therapy can help some women, especially if you can partner with a doctor who specializes in menopause.
But there’s a lot that YOU can do, all on your own, to find relief. And most of them are free! I’m talking a lifestyle tweak here, a tweak there. And even if you go the HRT route, laying this sweet foundation of self care will make it all the more effective.
1 Self Care
Why: You’ve been taking care of everyone else. Now is the time to take care of you. Schedule time out to chill with meditation, a bath, “fun” reading, or anything else that relaxes you a couple times a week. This will lower your stress levels and remind you to listen to your body and soul.
2 Take Walks
Why: This is another potent destressor that allows you to stretch your limbs, get your blood flowing, and let your mind unspool. You’ll benefit more if you can walk somewhere green, and even more if you can walk barefoot. Don’t do a power walk, by the way. Instead, think “Girl From Ipanema” stroll.
3 Do Yoga
Why: A 2017 meta-analysis found that yoga can safely ease menopause-related discomfort like hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, painful sex, and vaginal dryness. Other studies have shown yoga also helps you sleep better and minimizes mood swings. And yes, that includes the easy yoga you do at home with YouTube videos.
4 Cut the booze
Why: Intuitively, a glass of wine seems like The Answer to your anxiety, mean reds, and sleeplessness. But it will turn on you, my friend. That’s because alcohol tends to disrupt sleep later in the night. And it can trigger hot flashes, night sweats, migraines and more. So experiment with cutting back or not drinking at all.
5 Shrink the sugar
Why: Hello insulin roller coaster! Women our age become more sensitive to sugar, which means higher highs and lower crashes. This is another counter-intuitive tip. Indulging may feel right in the moment, but it’s not the kindest way to treat yourself. Try cutting the sweet stuff, or switch to gentler sweeteners like stevia, coconut sugar, monk fruit sugar, or maple syrup for an easier transition.
6 Get your daily dose
Why: You don’t need to get megadoses of these nutrients, but do make sure you’re getting enough. Magnesium helps you sleep better, calms anxiety and helps you recover from exercise. Vitamin B12 can soothe stress and fends off fatigue. Vitamins B6, B12, and folate helps lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. B6 helps produce serotonin. Vitamin E has been shown to reduce the severity of hot flashes. It’s an antioxidant that reduces your risk for depression and heart disease. And it’s hard to get adequate Vitamin D unless you’re sunbathing nude every day, so take a supplement with at least 600 IU a day. Go outside anyway, though. Every day.
7 Prioritize Sleep
Why: A lot of women find they need more sleep through perimenopause. Unfortunately, this is also a phase when sleep becomes elusive thanks to higher stress levels and night sweats. See this as an opportunity to create the best environment for falling asleep, get to bed earlier, and make lifestyle changes that support deep sleep.
8 Make Love with lube
Why: Use it or lose it, lady. Frequent (or at least regular) vaginal intercourse can slow the loss of elasticity and reduce dryness for some women. Throw in ample foreplay and that helps stoke the fires of your libido as well. Find a water- or silicone-based lubricant and maybe also a vaginal moisturizer and use as much as you damn well need to. And remember, with the right toy, sex with yourself can be just as sweet.
Why: Fun social activities help relieve stress, especially for perimenopausal women. And hanging out with other women who are going through the same thing gives you an opportunity to feel understood, to commiserate, to share ideas, and to just kvetch which, let’s face it, is sometimes just what you need.
10 Let go
This can be the hardest part: Let go. Let go of your need to control everything. Let go of relationships that bring you down. Let go of beliefs that are harming you. Let go of the expectation that you can wrestle your perimenopause into submission and go back to the way things were before. Release, release, release.