There was a time in my life when I was an absolute machine. I worked at an advertising agency on one of the world’s biggest brands and needless to say, they were a little demanding. But I was up for the challenge. I easily and consistently worked 70-80 hours a week.
And those were the days before office ping pong, lunch rooms and beer tastings. When working meant actually sitting at your desk, in front of your computer… working. Yet somehow, I still found the time and energy to have drinks with friends until the wee hours of the morning. Then I got up and did it all again. Work hard, play hard.
I was in my 20s and had the energy, ambition and self discipline to do whatever it took to get the job done. Now I’m 50 and there are days – far too many of them – that I struggle to complete even the simplest tasks.
Like Nate Bargatze (@Nateland), some days I really miss being young.
Now I have zero motivation
Days when getting out of bed to perform my household duties seem like too much to bear. When sitting down at the computer to write a blog seems so overwhelming that I just don’t even begin. And after putting all my eggs in this ‘perimenopause community’ basket, that’s really not an option. Writing is absolutely essential to building a thriving community.
And yet there are days when I just can’t. When it’s all too much. When I get frustrated with myself (but only a little, because I don’t have the energy for a full self-shaming session) because I know what needs to get done, and yet I just can’t seem to find the motivation to do it.
I’m not lazy, I’m in perimenopause
If you’ve never experienced this low energy, lack of motivation, apathetic frame of mind, you might be thinking right now that I’m just making excuses. That I just don’t love what I’m doing – so far from the truth. That it’s my mindset holding me back. Nope, I’m a self help junkie. Or that I’m just plain lazy. Not an F’ing chance!
Guess what? Recently, I uncovered a little known fact that’s helped me realize that although my lack of motivation still sucks, it’s actually quite common in perimenopause. As more research is being done, results show that many perimenopausal women report a lack of motivation, not only at work and the gym, but also for social engagements, travel and trying new things.
What causes lack of motivation
As with most perimenopausal symptoms, you won’t be surprised to hear there are a few factors at play:
– Sleep – Between insomnia, anxiety, night sweats and our partner’s snoring, sleep disturbances are far too common for women. Arguably, sleep is the most important pillar of our health. So not getting enough sleep, pummels our energy levels and erodes our mental resilience. Leaving us devoid of motivation and compromising our ability to make sound decisions.
– Hormones – It’s a given for perimenopausal women that our hormones are taking us on a wild ride. Without a steady flow of estrogen, progesterone, thyroid and adrenal hormones, it’s no wonder our body and minds are feeling less than fabulous.
– Perimenopause Symptoms – Add to this a cocktail of other common symptoms like brain fog, concentration issues and memory lapses and it’s hard not to feel defeated and unmotivated to sit down and write a 2,200 word blog.
Feeling unmotivated is very common
If you’re feeling tired and unmotivated, know that you are not alone. The UK is leading the charge on understanding how menopause affects women’s mental health, motivation and confidence. And the results are quite staggering:
– A study out of the UK indicated that “58% of women reported fatigue, low-energy, and low-motivation as common symptom of menopause-related mental health.”~
– Another revealed that “44% of women said their ability to work had been affected. 61% said that they had lost motivation at work due to their symptoms, and 52% said they had lost confidence.”++
– The British Menopause Society survey found that “over 20% of the working women surveyed reported that the menopause had affected their confidence at work. In the same survey, around half the women reported that the menopause had had an impact on their home life and just over a third said it had affected their social life.”**
How to find your motivation
I’ve started to do a little research and I am happy to report that there are actually quite a few things perimenopausal women can do to try to get their mojo back. I’m just starting on this journey, so I don’t know if any of these are sure-fire solutions, but I’m definitely going to give them a try:
– Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) – many women experiencing menopause find HRT can help to significantly improve their low mood, increase energy levels and heighten motivation. You’ve likely heard a lot of buzz about this one lately, and there’s a lot to unpack here. If you want to learn more, a great place to start is the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) 2022 HRT Position Statement.
– Prioritize Sleep – In my humble opinion, sleep is the most critical factor in supporting all our perimenopause symptoms. You likely know this too. And so you’re probably frustrated with me, maybe even infuriated. Because as hard as you try, getting a good night’s sleep continues to be next to impossible. If you’re looking for some sleep tools to help you get your Zzzs, we’ve got a few in our blog Sleep Sabotage in Perimenopause.
– Self Care – Prioritizing self care can work wonders. It’s like a secret weapon against stress, anxiety and depression. Concentration gets a power-up. Frustrations and anger shrink away. Happiness levels can soar and energy gets a boost. When you’re feeling relaxed, grateful and calm, it’s definitely easier to be motivated to do things, including the hard stuff.
– Exercise – a simple yet powerful method to enhance concentration, motivation, memory, and mood. Engaging in physical activity instantly elevates dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels in the brain – crucial elements for sharpened focus and attention.
– Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) – For individuals grappling with low motivation, CBT emerges as a powerful tool. Skilled therapists provide invaluable support in reshaping unproductive thought patterns and behavioral habits, leading to a remarkable surge in both drive and achievement.
Getting back your mojo
It’s not always going to be easy. There are still going to be days when you’ll want to call in sick. Days when you cancel plans with friends. When the thought of doing anything more than laying on the couch, TV remote in hand, will seem more overwhelming than you can bear.
Don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t belittle and berate yourself. Try some of these tools and be kind to yourself.
You never know. You might get a good night sleep tonight. You’re hormones may be on a high, and tomorrow might be better. You might launch out of bed, run 5K on the treadmill and whip up pancakes before anyone else in the house has opened their eyes. Tomorrow might have you feeling like your 20-year old self again.
Celebrate those days.
And on your low energy days, know in your heart, that you’re not lazy. I promise. You’re just in perimenopause.