If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately, then this is the blog for you. We’re here to tell you about how some really small and simple tricks can help turn things around for you. So settle in, and listen up as we dive into micro acts of self-care.
The thing about perimenopause (and menopause) is that it’s not just characterized by a manifestation of physical symptoms — the body aches, the heart palpitations, the cycle changes, or the hot flashes.
Both perimenopause and menopause can have serious impacts on our mental health, such as increased anxiety, the presence of brain fog, and reduced sleep quality. Women experience feelings of sadness and higher stress in these stages.
When you’re going through it — whether it is mood swings, overwhelming anxiety, or just feeling a bit tired and rundown — self-care can feel like way more work than you want to do. Especially when self-care gurus are telling you self-care means drinking a freshly squeezed green juice every morning, casually taking a light 10k jog, and an hour-long bath in the evening.
I don’t know about you, but that’s not what my life looks like. And it never will.
Self-care should be realistic
When your perimenopause symptoms include hot flashes and night sweats, and you’re spending your days taking care of others, how are you meant to stay motivated to take care of yourself? And why the heck would a hot bath be a good idea when you run the risk of a hot flash? No, thank you.
But we do want you to take care of yourself and for you to feel better. Self-care should be attainable and relatable, not unrealistic or superficial.
So, before we dive in — don’t worry — we’re not advocating for huge changes to your everyday life. We think the best self-care happens in the small moments. It happens in the micro-decisions to choose yourself and your mental health whenever possible.
Let’s not complicate your self-care routine, and make it into something insurmountable. We’re hoping you can find what works best for you and prioritize self-care acts that truly feel manageable and sustainable.
So, with that in mind, here are some effective but small self-care acts that you can fit into your life right now to help you care for your mental health and reduce the symptoms of perimenopause stress, anxiety, and even depression.
Get real about what good rest looks like
So, that bit about perimenopause symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and poor sleep really hit home for you? Relatable.
Or maybe you’ve always had a hard time resting — even before perimenopause kicked in – because you’ve spent all day caring for others, or working, or both and you just want to spend more time doing the things you love (a.k.a. catching up on television).
Good rest can be difficult to find at times. But once you find the things that help you sleep just a little bit better, continuing to make a consistent effort in building those sleep habits can actually make a big difference.
Good rest, for me, looks like getting off my phone and turning off the TV for at least 30 minutes before I plan to go to sleep. Spending that time winding down in quiet or listening to pink noise really makes a difference.
And it also looks like buying an extra throw pillow (or two!) to make my rest space extra cozy! Yes, you can take this as permission to get another one, too. Or, to replace the old pillow that lost most of its support over the past few years, but you were too preoccupied living through a pandemic to notice.
Good rest may be a bit easier to find than you thought. Dedicate a bit of time to explore and try something new that might help your sleep. Though you do have to put in that time, it can pay off in the future.
Prioritizing self-care also means advocating for yourself and your health. So don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you haven’t already talked to your doctor about your sleep problems, make an appointment today.
Go outside and play
Sometimes even minimal effort can feel impossible, especially when you have perimenopausal symptoms like irritability, exhaustion and/or brain fog.
Break out of your funk by getting yourself into fresh air and (a safe amount of) sunlight. Put on some SPF (and maybe a hat), and get out there.
When we think of spending quality time outside, we often think of physical activity. But you don’t have to exert yourself and get all sweaty to spend time in the great outdoors. So many of the activities, hobbies, or relaxation we enjoy indoors can easily be brought outdoors with us!
Do a different, maybe even non-traditional, activity outside. Really, anything you’re passionate about or interested in. You could paint, read your favourite book, eat yummy foods, or even take a nap. Doing it outside will only enhance the experience and comes with fringe benefits for your mental health.
I love setting myself up on my deck in a patch of warm sunlight with a book from my woefully ignored to-be-read list, or just catching up with a friend while sitting surrounded by green space. On days when your negative feelings seem out of control, even just stepping outside to get a breath of fresh air can make a difference.
Nature makes (almost) everything a little better.
Move your body
Physical activity, sports, and memories of high school gym class aren’t everyone’s favourite. For some of us these come with feelings of embarrassment. For others feelings of team camaraderie or pride. But whether you’re more of an All the Right Moves or a Sixteen Candles type, embracing exercise can have impressive benefits for your mental health.
According to the Journal of Women’s Health, aerobic exercise reduced feelings of depression and anxiety in perimenopausal women. It also helps reduce stress, builds your energy and strength, and promotes good sleep.
Any movement counts
The thing is you don’t have to hit the gym if that’s not your thing. So let’s stop gatekeeping movement and preventing ourselves from moving in the ways that feel right to us.
Find the way you and your body actually enjoy moving. You might love your local yoga class, having a gossip session with a friend while you do a lap around the neighborhood, or throwing a solo dance party in your living room. You might add in some lunges while you’re doing laundry or just vacuum your floors with some more than usual vigor.
Whatever moves you, moves you!
By the way, it’s important to remember your body might feel different. It might even be physically different with different capabilities, when you’re experiencing perimenopause and menopause. So, remember to take it easy, and have compassion and patience for yourself. Especially when you’re first getting into a new type of physical activity. Listen to your body.
Let it all out
One of the hardest parts of perimenopause (or menopause) is how much change it brings.
Our minds are different. Our bodies are different. And, understandably, we feel different. But sometimes, even though we know better, it can feel difficult or uncomfortable to express how we feel about it all. Those feelings can really get in the way it they are freely expressed.
When we feel out of control because of how much change is happening in our lives, sometimes we need a little reminder that it is okay to express ourselves. Whether that’s self-expression, or expression to others in our circle, the process of reflecting and expressing our feelings can be incredibly healing.
Perimenopause is a time of transition and momentous change. When we feel overwhelmed by change or out of control, self-expression can make a big difference. A study published on menopause found journaling was actually effective in reducing feelings of menopause depression and anxiety.
So if you ever needed an excuse, this is the perfect time to put pen to paper or perhaps make some art.
The catharsis of jotting down your thoughts and feelings, or drawing how you’re feeling (even if that’s just a mess of squiggles and doodles), or any other act of self-reflection could be exactly what you need to reconnect with yourself. As well as understand how you’re really feeling about all of this change.
Self-care can be small but radical acts of love
In our society, it’s easy to feel like our own well-being is at the bottom of the to-do list. And as maturing women, it can feel isolating to try and take care of our health in a system that largely glosses over the menopausal experience. It’s time we change that narrative, starting with the stories we tell ourselves.
So, remember, when perimenopause symptoms are getting you down or your mental health feels a bit off, you get a say. You get to take control and change the trajectory of any bad day. One small action is often enough!
And above all, self-care doesn’t have to look like miraculous changes in your life. Taking care of yourself happens in the small moments when you choose the next right thing for your mental and physical health.
Change your perspective
Recently, I heard some great advice to “treat yourself like you would treat your best friend”. I treat my friends with so much more compassion than I do myself. And that’s probably true for you as well. It’s probably true for most of us.
But if you have the energy and care to give to others, you also have the capacity to give that gift to yourself.
Perimenopause and menopause are personal journeys — just like self-care. Keep trying to find the acts of self-care that lessen your perimenopausal symptoms, and continue to seek out the things that contribute to your well-being and bring you small moments of joy.
Because self-care isn’t selfish. It’s important for your overall mental health and well-being. And self-care is what I’d want for my best friend, it’s what I want for me, and it’s what I want for you.
- Journal of Women’s Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4116579/
- Chapel Hill Gynecology https://chapelhillgynecology.com/ways-to-practice-self-care-during-menopause/
- Menopause https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5447485/