Menopause In The Workplace – Practical Tips For Improving Your Experience At Work.
Menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in the workforce and 8 out of 10 menopausal women are in work.
Thus, considering how we support ourselves through this transitional time is key to continuing to function at a high level in all spheres of life.
We must not forget that Menopause is a natural transition in all women’s lives and our experience of it can be greatly impacted by a number of lifestyle factors which can be optimised. It generally happens from about 45 years to 55years and the lead up to menopause when women’s hormones start changing is known as the perimenopause and can also be associated with a variety of symptoms.
It is important to recognise the challenges faced during this time which affect our cognitive, physical, and emotional wellbeing. These symptoms can include:
- hot flushes (sometimes followed by chills)
- heart palpitations
- sleep disturbance
- dry eye conditions
- muscular aches
- night sweats
- skin irritation
- irritability, anxiety and/or mood disturbances
- poor concentration
- the need for more toilet breaks
However, women at this age have a vast amount of knowledge, experience and wisdom to share in the workplace and it is imperative to have support structures in place and not lose their vital input. Therefore, it is important to have thought about how to navigate and support your journey through the menopause and ensure you are aware of strategies to improve your experience at work:
Educate yourself on the symptoms of perimenopause/menopause and try to optimise your lifestyle to be able to minimise the physiological disruptions.
- Be aware and try to adjust the triggers for your hot flushes which could be related to caffeine intake, unstable blood sugars and stressful situations.
- Try to wear layers to allow you to adapt your clothing with the more sensitive body temperature settings.
- Carry a pack of nuts/seeds which can help with maintaining stable blood sugars and helps avoid reaching for sugary snacks which exacerbate the problems.
Work on restoring optimum sleep which can be disrupted and can aggravate fatigue and brain fog experienced by many.
- Sleep is a natural therapy that allows the brain to process the day’s activities and carry out important repair/detoxification work. Wearing very light cotton clothing to bed and taking supplements like magnesium glycinate can help relaxation and sleep.
- Being in tune with the natural diurnal rhythm and avoiding bright light in the evening with blue blocking glasses if you do need to look at screens and conversely exposing yourself to bright daylight outside for at least 5-10 minutes in the morning within an hour of waking can help set a healthy body clock. It is worth considering having your morning cuppa outside wrapped up warm.
Ensure regular physical activity in the form of strength training and high intensity training which can be very helpful in maintaining cognitive health and muscle mass which maintains metabolic health and reduces troublesome menopausal symptoms. This can be as little as 10 minutes of (High intensity interval training (HIIT) twice a week which can be incorporated into the working day. Though any regular exercise or movement helps to balance hormones including yoga, tai chi and of course simple walking.
Actively manage stress with timetabled relaxation time to support the adrenal glands cortisol stress response. When ovarian reproductive capacity starts to wane during menopause, we become more reliant on our adrenals for hormone production and if there is dysfunction there related to stress our resilience is significantly impaired with the loss of buffering hormones from the ovary. We must recognise the importance of work life balance and continuous pushing is often not productive and quashes creative and lateral thinking.
Eat an anti-inflammatory diet of unprocessed fresh food, good lean protein, good fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil and oily fish.
- Eat organic as much as possible to reduce consumption of pesticides and toxins which act as endocrine disruptors and affect hormone balance. Foods that can support general hormone balance include flaxseed and phytoestrogenic foods like soya.
- It is also important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, as well as herbal teas, such as tulsi tea, which soothes the nervous system rather than reaching for another coffee to get you through.
Develop an open culture and lead by example. There may well be others going through similar issues in the company and having an open culture allows for opportunities to support and learn from each other and think creatively about how to navigate the challenges specifically for your work space. Perhaps a conversation with the HR team will help embed this into your company.
Flexible working patterns – consider looking at how to make your working week work for you. The Covid 19 pandemic has brought about a culture change in the traditional 9am-5pm workday and it may be useful to assess when you are at your most productive and prioritise breaks and movement by timetabling them in.
Using technology where it can help you. For example setting up reminders on your phone or taking more notes to help with 'brain fog'. Ultimately the optimising nutrition, sleep, movement and relaxation all help support and future proof cognitive function especially when we are more vulnerable during perimenopause/menopause.
Above all it is imperative to be kind to yourself through it all and recognise that your body is a miraculous machine which can and will adapt to the new hormonal landscape and there is no reason why you cannot flourish in the workplace and at home.
If you would like to find out more about how to support your menopause journey specifically book an appointment with a hormone specialist who can look at a bespoke plan looking at lifestyle, supplementation as well as personalised hormonal replacement support if needed.