The Balance Between Work and Self-Care: Navigating Menopause

Finding the balance between work and self-care becomes incredibly vital during menopause. I vividly remember the moment when I realized just how crucial it was for me. As menopause began, I found myself on an emotional rollercoaster, and it hit me hard during a particularly difficult meeting. My emotions were all over the place, my nerves were frayed, and I could feel myself on the verge of boiling over with frustration and emotion. That was my wake-up call.

It was clear that I needed a break, but I was at a loss for how to broach the subject. Already grappling with the unexpected changes in my body—sleep disturbances, hot flashes, and bouts of brain fog at the worst possible moments—I questioned whether I could speak to my manager. Would my workplace be understanding and accommodating? At times, I even contemplated leaving the corporate world altogether. Lucky for me,I managed to find a way through, and I can help you too.

The Difficulty of Menopause in the Workplace

Menopause is a significant life transition for many women, marked by a variety of physical and emotional changes. While it’s a natural part of ageing, the symptoms associated with menopause can often disrupt daily life, particularly in the workplace. Balancing work responsibilities with self-care during this time can be challenging, but it’s essential for maintaining overall well-being and productivity.

One of the primary challenges women face when navigating menopause in the workplace is managing symptoms discreetly. Hot flashes, mood swings, and fatigue can all impact job performance and morale. Unfortunately, many workplaces lack the necessary accommodations or understanding from colleagues to support women going through menopause.

Without access to private spaces to cool down during hot flashes or take a moment to regroup, women may feel exposed and vulnerable. This lack of support can lead to increased stress and anxiety, further exacerbating menopausal symptoms. Employers must recognise the unique needs of menopausal women in the workplace and provide appropriate resources and accommodations to help them manage their symptoms effectively. Employers are increasingly becoming aware of the need to provide for menopause as a basic human right.

Feeling Guilty About Taking Time Off

 Another common challenge women encounter when finding balance between work and self-care during menopause is experiencing guilt about taking time off. I vividly remember feeling mortified when I first noticed my symptoms and had to discuss them with my line manager. I dreaded being perceived as a ‘problem’ or adding another complication to the workplace dynamic. The uncertainty of how my situation would be accommodated only heightened my anxiety.

The pressure and expectations at work often make it challenging for women to prioritize their health and well-being, ultimately leading to a cycle of exhaustion and burnout. Many women may avoid scheduling doctor appointments or taking time off when needed due to fear of falling behind or being perceived as less committed to their jobs. However, neglecting self-care only perpetuates the cycle of stress and worsens menopausal symptoms in the long run.

Women need to recognize that prioritizing self-care is not selfish but necessary for maintaining their health and productivity in the workplace. Employers should foster a culture that encourages open communication about menopause-related challenges and supports employees in taking the time they need to attend to their health.

Balance between Work and Personal Life

Menopause often coincides with other significant life events, such as caring for elderly parents or raising children. Balancing work responsibilities with personal obligations can feel overwhelming, leading to increased stress and feelings of inadequacy.

Women in this stage of life may find themselves stretched thin, trying to meet the demands of both their careers and their families. The pressure to excel in all areas of life can take a toll on mental and physical health, making it even more challenging to manage menopausal symptoms effectively.

Women need to set realistic expectations for themselves and prioritize self-care amidst their many responsibilities. This may involve seeking support from family members, delegating tasks at work, or reevaluating priorities to find a balance between work and self-care.

What can you do to balance between work and self-care?

For help at work:

  • Open Communication: Talk to your manager or Human Resources team about your symptoms and how they might affect your work. Explore reasonable adjustments like flexible work hours, access to a cooler workspace, or a private space to manage hot flashes.
  • Be Your Own Advocate: Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Your employer may offer helpful wellness programs or resources; if not, you can still find help working with someone like me.
  • Build a Support Network: Confide in a trusted colleague or mentor who can offer support and understanding.
  • Get Help: Contact someone who can help you through the muddle. I offer resources and tips to help you. Email me at [email protected] to see if we can work together.

Self-Care Strategies:

  • Prioritize Sleep: Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine and create a sleep-conducive environment.
  • Healthy Diet and Exercise: Eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise can improve energy levels, mood, and sleep quality. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
  • Stress Management Techniques: Techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help manage stress and anxiety.
  • Seek Medical Help: A doctor can recommend hormone therapy or other options to manage symptoms and improve your quality of life.
  • Join a Support Group: Talking to other women going through menopause can be a source of comfort, empathy, and practical advice. There are online and in-person support groups available.
  • Get Help: Contact someone who can help you through the muddle. I offer resources and tips to help you. Email me at [email protected] to see if we can work together.

Balancing work and self-care during menopause

Navigating menopause in the workplace can be challenging, but it’s not insurmountable. By advocating for their needs, setting boundaries, and prioritizing self-care, women can find a balance between work and self-care during this significant life transition. Employers also play a crucial role in creating a supportive work environment that recognizes and accommodates the unique challenges faced by menopausal women. Together, we can create workplaces where women feel empowered to prioritize their health and thrive in their careers.

Other resources that can be of use:

Menopause: Just like Spring, embrace new beginnings

7 Key Strategies for Navigating Menopause at Work

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About me

Turning 50 was an unexpected wake-up call. Panic surged through every fibre of my being as I wondered, “Is my youth slipping away, leaving me behind”.

Standing at the crossroads, I realized I wasn’t alone in this whirlwind of emotions. Many women over 50 experience similar moments of self-doubt and apprehension. The truth is our bodies and minds undergo natural changes as we age. It’s essential to remember that ageing is a privilege denied to many, and instead of fearing it, we must embrace a healthy and happy lifestyle over 50.

Using the advice we share in this blog, many women, including me, have found relief and are better able to manage this transition of life and feel more fulfilled both at home, and at work.

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