I couldn’t help but giggle reading an Instagram post of Sharon Stone’s a while back. The photo was a side shot of her smiling and driving, with a comment that said “happiness is knowing your seat heater is on…and you’re not having a hot flash”!
It reminded me of so many cringe-worthy (yet laughable) moments of my own.
As much as we know, this stage and its challenges are “normal”. There are months at a time when I feel exhausted, forgetful, highly emotional, anxious, low on iron, and ready to crawl out of my own skin. It is debilitating to say the least (personally and professionally), and in the moment, far from anything sexy or graceful. But, there are a few coping mechanisms that I know are tried and tested by several of us.
Survival Planning: Layers of Black + Comedic Relief
Black is a classic, timely colour for our wardrobes, but how much of it is mandated by middle-age hormonal transition (peri-menopause or the change)? How many pieces can we possibly wear as layers, to maintain style while shedding layers to navigate internal climate change, or protect us from a visible “accident”? So far, what I know for sure is MANY and MANY!
In facing the reality of hormonal change, there have been times when I’ve had to schedule all day client commitments around my (body’s) calendar, to ensure I could leave the house and not panic about proximity to the nearest washroom (…dare I stand up too quickly). Having said that, there are days where flexibility in my schedule is not an option, and instead I find myself needing to think through “survival planning”. These are the days when I do the best I can, and leave the house with a supply of products and Tylenol and Advil. Yes, some staple outfits consist of black pants (NO dress), a sleeveless tank, long black sweater, and black wrap as an extra – just in case I get too hot with the sweater, or God forbid, have to wrap it around my waist!
There are many times I’ve been in the boardroom when a hot flash comes over. If it’s mild enough, I’ll push through, but if it isn’t (and it’s obvious), I will casually suggest we take a break, or I’ll take a drink of water and move on. In many cases, I have created a comedic moment of the situation: it’s amazing how that can make everyone at the table feel better about it. For the most part, many men have heard it before (as they watched their wives, partners, or mothers experience it too) – and those in the room that get it will be fine. If they don’t…. it’s their problem, not mine!
What Has Helped Me
This is real life. I have come to realize being honest and vulnerable with this stage is not a sign of weakness, it’s actually a sign of confidence and strength in who I am. I am doing this while continuing to grow, prosper, and live a professional life I enjoy. This “change” is about acceptance, becoming educated with the options available to manage it, and making choices that our best for our own bodies and circumstances.
This is what has helped me navigate through minimizing hot flashes, balancing hormones, and mitigating risk of accidents:
- Acupuncture (once or twice a month)
- Evening Primrose
- Liquid Iron
- Diva Cup
- Essential Oils – Dragon Time, Ylang, Ylang, Peppermint and Lavender (as needed – either rubbed on abdomen or on the vita flex points of wrists, behind the ears and back of neck)
- Regular exercise (cardio and weight bearing)
On two different occasions (each as a 3-month trial), I tried an HRT patch (recommendation from my Physician) and bio-identical progesterone tablets (recommendation from my Naturopath). Both times, I did not like the way my body felt in other ways, so stopped use.
It Can Only Get Better!
Know you’re not alone. We’ve all struggled (or are struggling, or will struggle…) with this hormonal change, and the stage of life that tells us that we’re entering a new phase. It isn’t a bad thing, and with some preparedness, back up items, and a solid tribe of girlfriends, we will all get through it with stories (and wisdom) to share!
The best thing we can do is embrace it, be true to ourselves, and manage our wellness head on. Why? Because being a modern middle-aged woman only gets better from here. And…because we can!
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Photos: Casey Nolin Photography
This is a great post! Very well-written. Thanks for sharing some ways to minimize hot flashes as well. This will be really helpful!