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Menopause & your Career: Is your hot flush holding you back?

It’s tough isn’t it? You’ve just reached the stage in your career when you should be feeling pretty secure and confident. You’re respected and you know your stuff. Then BAM! out of nowhere you’re suddenly peri-menopausal and experiencing a wide variety of symptoms that can leave you reeling.

Of course, everyone experiences the menopause differently but there is no manual to help you navigate the symptoms while you’re also navigating your career.

What is happening?

There are many different symptoms including:

  • tiredness and fatigue that leaves you wrung out and exhausted
  • memory loss and concentration, also know as ‘brain fog’ – your razor sharp cognitive skills suddenly seem rather blunt and you can’t even remember what you wore yesterday let alone decide what to wear today!
  • loss of confidence – feelings of anxiety and self doubt when combined with other symptoms can affect your confidence level
  • mood swings – similar to PMT feelings of anger and irritation can overwhelm you, or you can feel very low and tearful
  • hot flushes – suddenly feeling extremely overheated, sweating and flushed skin. While they pass quickly they can feel embarrassing especially in a meeting or with colleagues
  • bladder problems – urgently and frequently needing to go to the loo
  • sleep issues – night sweats and anxiety can mean sleep is  broken often compounding the fatigue
  • weight gain – especially around your middle which can affect your body confidence

How can you manage them so they don’t affect your career?

Luckily, due to a number of celebs, for example, Carole Vorderman and Nadia Sawalha being open about their experience of the menopause, it is now being talked about more openly. There is also an acknowledgement that workplaces can do more to support women experiencing symptoms. Interestingly the police force is one of the pioneers, offering support groups and private spaces for female officers experiencing difficulties with the menopause. However, if you’re not in a forward thinking organisation then here are some ways to get through the next few years successfully:

  1. Keep an eye on the temperature of your environment -make sure you can adjust the thermostat of your office or open a window if you need to.
  2. Wear light layers – clothes that you can remove easily to cool down but that still look stylish to maintain your confidence. Lauren from Lauren Manville Style has a great blog with  practical suggestions for looking good at work during the menopause. This will really help to boost your confidence too, if you know you look good, and can cope with any increases in temperature
  3. Talk to your boss – explain what you’re struggling with and why, and ask for their support. Most managers will be sympathetic and prepared to help, and if they understand what is going on it is unlikely to become an  issue if you’re not operating at peak performance all the time.
  4. Eat well – have a good protein breakfast such as eggs on toast, and eat healthy snacks through the day. Keeping your blood sugar stable will help with mood swings and energy, and enable you to make it through the day. It will also help with concentration too, so definitely worth planning your food at work for the week.
  5. Relax – make time for mindfulness or yoga, something that will help you manage stress effectively. The less stressed you feel the less the other symptoms will be exacerbated.
  6. Have a strategy – if you’re worried about losing  it and snapping at a colleague or, that you’ll forget what you’re going to say half way through a meeting or presentation, have a strategy. Work out what you’re going to do or say should that situation occur. Having a plan, and being aware of what could happen will reassure you you can cope should a difficult situation arise, and makes it less likely that it will happen.
  7. Boost your confidence – going through the menopause can knock your confidence so make a conscious effort to find ways to give yourself a regular boost and avoid negative self talk – more tips on how to do this here.

The menopause is a natural stage of aging, and in many cultures is a celebration of accrued wisdom, so make sure you look after yourself to reduce the impact on your career and your confidence. Get support if you need to from your doctor, and let’s carry on talking about this stage in life to make it more visible and acceptable.

If you’re struggling with how this life stage is impacting your career or your confidence do get in touch for some 121 support.

Photo courtesy of kaboompics.com

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