4 mins read

Creating habits to support your health in menopause

Author: Forth

December 20, 2023

Female health

Menopause woman with good habits smiling

If you are going through menopause, you may be thinking about creating new health-based habits to better support you, your symptoms and your body. You can help to manage those troublesome symptoms and strengthen your health during menopause by focusing on things like:

1. Regular Exercise

Exercise, particularly strength-based exercise not only helps to maintain a healthy weight through perimenopause but also supports your heart and bone health. This is really important for reducing your risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease in your postmenopausal years.

Get started by:

  • Finding an exercise which you enjoy – it’s much easier to stick to exercise if you are having fun!
  • Enlisting the support of a friend, coach or personal trainer – we are much more likely to actually do it if we have a workout buddy or trainer to work with. 
  • Scheduling it into your day like a work meeting or an appointment so you won’t find it as easy to skip!

2. Sleep

We often have to work extra hard during menopause to get a good night’s sleep – whether that’s because of our shifting hormones, those troublesome night sweats, or those night-time anxieties. The good news is that focusing on healthy sleep habits can support symptoms like brain fog, memory, concentration, maintaining a healthy weight, anxiety or mood issues.

Get started by:

  • Ensuring your bedroom is supportive for sleep – is it cool, dark and inviting you to sleep or is it too warm, too light or messy and cluttered? 
  • Developing a good wind-down routine to prepare your body and brain for sleep – things like turning off your phone, reading or meditation in the hour before bed can really help to settle our brain for sleep. Including some journal time at the end of the day can also help to release any night-time anxieties or worries before sleep. 
  • Ensuring you have a good bed-sleep connection by using the bedroom for sleep and intimacy only. This helps the brain to understand when you go to bed, it’s to sleep. NOT for lying there awake, scrolling social media, and going through the mental to-do list! 

3. Diet

Focusing on nourishing your body by eating a healthy diet not only helps that menopausal weight gain/body composition change, but also can impact on the quality of your sleep and symptoms like mood, anxiety, tiredness, fatigue, brain fog, memory and concentration issues. 

Get started by

  • Planning (and perhaps even prepping) your meals in advance so you won’t be tempted to sneak in a takeaway!
  • Tracking what you eat and drink using a food diary or app. If we don’t write it down, we often forget the coffee on the way to work, the extra biscuits with our morning cup of tea or the sweets we stole from the kid’s pick-and-mix. 
  • Making healthier choices when out and about by choosing an americano over a latte, or meals with more protein, or perhaps not having the dessert when we already feel full.

4. Managing your stress levels

Stress is a double whammy in menopause. The drop in oestrogen impacts our ability to regulate cortisol, which means we can feel stressed more easily than before. Yet stress can also make many of our symptoms worse! So it can feel a bit of a double hitter! The good news is that reducing your stress levels by self-care, exercise, relaxation, breathing, meditation or by delegating anything you can to others will also reduce the impact of those troublesome symptoms – seems like a no brainer doesn’t it!  

Get started by:

  • Delegating anything you can – get a cleaner, gardener, someone to do your ironing! Ask your partner to do some jobs, give your kids chores. Anything which you don’t have time for or don’t like doing to lighten the load.
  • Find just 5 minutes each day for yourself – to breathe, to dance, to meditate, to cry, to laugh.. whatever works to reduce those stress levels a little bit.
  • Find just 10 minutes a day to get outside, take your morning cup of tea in the garden, or take a walk before work or at lunch. Getting out in nature helps to rebalance our stress levels and reminds us to be present.   

5. Focusing on your mental health

Things like mood issues, anxiety and depression often crop up during menopause. Again, it’s those shifting hormones which are to blame… and perhaps the busy nature of life during this stage. It’s like we need to dial-up that self-care to the max to keep things on an even keel.  

Get started by:

  • Writing a daily gratitude journal – each day write down 3 things which you are grateful for and why. Focus on those feelings of gratitude to boost your mood.
  • Getting outside – again, getting out in daylight will help to boost your mood and supports the hormones involved in sleep.   
  • Talking to a friend or family member – feeling connected to those around us can really help to keep us grounded, as well as being a great mood booster!  

Whatever area of your life you decide to focus on, the MOST important thing is to CELEBRATE those WINS. Some days, those health habits will feel easy, other days they will feel like a mountain to climb! To keep you motivated, celebrate each and every win, however small. So, if you didn’t feel like exercising today but did just a few minutes or if you opted for a walk, celebrate it! If you really wanted a takeaway but chose a healthier option, celebrate it! Give yourself the praise and encouragement you deserve – be your own best friend! A WIN is a WIN, no matter how big or small.

And remember, you deserve the life you want so don’t be afraid to try new things and take care of yourself, one habit at a time!

This information has been medically written by Dr Bev Taylor

Bev has been a Chartered Psychologist for over 10 years, obtaining a Doctorate in Health Psychology in 2010. She has worked as an academic researcher and research consultant before focusing on how she can support those with menopause via lifestyle, education, and one-to-one support. Bev regularly writes about psychology, menopause, and behavioural change and has attended numerous events as both a speaker and a panellist.

Dr Bev Taylor

Dr Bev Taylor

BSc Psychology, MSc Health Psychology, DHealthPsych, CPsychol