Family Relationships

Join other women in the sandwich generation - share ideas and solutions as you learn to nourish family relationships without starving yourself.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Coping with Menopausal Symptoms

Senior woman using miniature ventilator, smiling with eyes shut, close-up

You've likely tried many techniques to deal with the annoying symptoms of perimenopause. Here are some that many Sandwiched Boomers find work for them. Try them, if you haven't already, and see if they work for you.

If hot flashes and night sweats plague you, join the gang. You can: dress in layers, have a personal fan handy to use whenever you need, sleep in a cool room at night, avoid alcohol, spicy foods and others that trigger a hot flash.

Many women in perimenopause just can't get a good night's sleep. If you have a hard time falling asleep or getting back to sleep when your body awakens you, try to create a comfortable bedtime routine and save your bed for intimacy and sleep. It may also help to move your physical exercise to earlier in the day.

Do you find yourself gaining weight - and in all the wrong places? Here the tips are the same ones you've heard all your life: start an eating program that you can maintain, drink lots of water - especially a half-hour before your next meal - find healthful food substitutes. Begin to keep a food diary, noting what, when and where you eat and what you were thinking and feeling at the time. This will help you determine your negative triggers so you can plan to avoid them. Resist buying sweets - if you don't have them handy, you won't have the temptation to grab a quick fix.

Even if you've been the queen of multitasking before you may notice that now you just can't concentrate and focus as well. If so, you may want to simplify your environment and concentrate on only one thing at a time. Make a list of things you want to do and prioritize them. Schedule extra time to go over new information so that you can incorporate it. Identify your greatest stressors and work on techniques to reduce them. To keep your mind sharp, explore and learn about new things, play word games and do crossword puzzles.

When your libido seems to disappear, you and your partner can make some changes. If your sexual desire has decreased, examine your relationship with your significant other and look at life situations that may be affecting your sexuality. You and your partner can focus on creating other kinds of intimacy in your relationship as you rekindle your joint affection, closeness and romance. Explore and enjoy your sensuality - be patient and take small steps. Talk to your doctor about remedies for vaginal dryness.

If all the hormonal, physical and psychological changes you have been going through have led you to feel depressed and anxious, you need to address your emotions. Look for a support group in which to share your thoughts and feelings. Keep a journal to express your feelings and gain some insight. Make exercise a part of your daily routine and utilize stress reduction techniques, such as deep breathing, guided imagery, and meditation. Focus on the positives in your life and acknowledge what you are grateful for. It may help to give of yourself and do something for someone else. Certainly, if your emotional symptoms don't abate, consult a mental health professional.

Life is full of changes - menopause is just one of them. Look at other changes in you life. Just as you have coped before, you will be able to cope now. Recognize your strengths and build on them. Focus on what has worked for you in the past and trust that you will find options that will help you now. Be patient and recognize that working through menopause is an ongoing process that takes time. This is a new chapter in your life. You can write it the way you want!

If one of the changes you have made entails becoming a mother-in-law, be sure to tune in tomorrow when we host a virtual book tour with Sally Shields - author of The Daughter-in-Law Rules. And come with your questions for Sally. She'll be happy to answer them.

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