If you are 40 or older, read on……
The midlife years can be a time of growth and change for women. As we age, our bodies go through hormone changes that can cause physical and emotional symptoms. Additionally, we often have significant external changes in our lives. It’s important to be aware of these changes so that you can make the necessary lifestyle adjustments to stay healthy and happy during this time.
1. Physical Changes
Menopause is the most well-known physical change that women experience in midlife. Menopause is the permanent cessation of menstruation and typically occurs around age 51. However, some women may experience menopause as early as age 40 or as late as age 55. The transition to menopause is called perimenopause and usually begins 5-10 years before menopause itself. During perimenopause, women may notice irregular periods, hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, and vaginal dryness.
2. Emotional Changes
Many women also experience emotional changes during midlife. These changes are caused by the same hormonal fluctuations that trigger physical changes like hot flashes and night sweats. Some women may feel irritable, anxious, or depressed during this time. Women with past histories of depression are at higher risk for developing depression during this period. Others may find themselves more tearful than usual or have difficulty sleeping. If you’re experiencing any of these emotional changes, it’s important to talk to your doctor so that you can make sure there isn’t an underlying medical condition causing them.
3. Lifestyle Changes
In addition to physical and emotional changes, midlife can also bring about lifestyle changes. For example, children are getting older and more independent. They may even be starting their college search! Additionally, your parents are aging thrusting you into the sandwich generation. Caring for two separate generations, your children and parents can be emotionally exhausting.
This is all happening when many couples are at a pivotal point in their marriage. The external stressors of kids and parents, as well as the physical and emotional symptoms of perimenopause may stress even the best relationships.
Moreover, for many women, their careers peak in their forties. Although exciting, can also be a drain. All of theses pressures together can mean less time to engage in self care like exercise, spiritual practices, and healthy nutrition.
How to live well during this time
This may all sound overwhelming. However, there is a lot you can do to feel great during this time. First, set boundaries. You don’t have to go to every sports game or school event. If you are starting to care for parents, set some ground rules. Under no circumstances, should you allow aging parent to move in with you without a lot of thought and planning.
Second, set up a routine for yourself. If it is not planned, you probably won’t do it. Be realistic. Also, avoid all or nothing thinking. A 30 minute walk three times a week is better than nothing. Prioritize nutrition. If you have to eat on the run, bring some fruit or a salad. You can keep a bag of nuts in your car for a high protein, fiber snack. Lastly, find your tribe. Ana Calhoun writes beautiful in her memoir, Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis, about how her circle of supportive friends is getting her through this period.
The midlife years can be a time of growth and change for women. As we age, our bodies go through hormone changes that can cause physical and emotional symptoms. We also have many transitions in our life. It’s important to be aware of these changes so that you can take the necessary care to stay healthy and happy during this time. If you’re experiencing any difficulties during this life stage, don’t hesitate to reach out for help from your doctor or a mental health professional.
Get the help you need and deserve now! Call or email Jen to get scheduled.
You can also learn more about perimenopause at our workshop this February 5, 2023.