The menopause is a time of change for all women and affects us emotionally as much as physically. Some breeze through, while others struggle on for years.
In addition to hot flushes, poor sleep and headaches, mid-life is often a tumultuous time, with higher incidence of divorce and children moving out, generating the ‘empty nest syndrome’. There can be a lot of pressure on women so is it any surprise that many feel stressed?
The menopause is a time of change, fundamentally altering a woman’s perception of herself and her role. Change is full of possibilities, but many fear it.
The end of their fertile years can leave some women feeling that they have lost their purpose. But the menopause can also be a time to regain a sense of who we are. While some doors are closing, others are opening.
I often see middle-aged women who are struggling with the changes to their bodies and circumstances, and who want to take time to identify what direction they want their life to take. Together we look at their options. For many, this is a time to be creative and pursue new interests, engaging in pursuits which foster a healthy self-esteem. Staying connected to friends and family also helps generate a sense of self-worth.
When women experience menopausal symptoms this happens on two levels: physical symptoms and what we think about them. Some of us may think “I am getting old” or “I am worthless now”. Anxiety and low mood may set in. If we experience alternative thoughts, such as “I am free to focus on my interests now”, our mood is likely to be more positive.
Learning to recognise negative thought patterns and replace them with a more realistic outlook can prove an effective weapon in turning a challenging time into an opportunity full of potential.
Anna Dallavalle is a counsellor working with individuals and couples, with a private practice in Morpeth. Visit www.steppingstonesne.co.uk