You’ve worked hard in a career to get to the top, and now you’re enjoying the respect that comes with seniority and the confidence in your professional ability – then bam, out of the blue menopause starts.
You start to struggle with sleep. You don’t have the energy of your 30-something year old self who could cope with a young family waking you at night, and still focus on work the next day.
Your concentration levels begin to dip, and you get confused easily. Your colleagues look at you a little confused as you forget their names in meetings.
Confidence starts to waiver, as you start to believe perhaps you aren’t as capable in your career as you once were. You question if this is what aging is going to be like.
Well you’re WRONG! This is temporary, you ARE amazing, you DESERVE respect and you will get through this. We are here to help!
We have put together some of our top tips on how to survive menopause in the work place:
Self Care – The ability to conquer any of life’s challenges always starts with YOU!
Making even small adjustments to your diet can have huge benefits with reducing the symptoms of menopause. Reducing caffeine and sugar intake can help regulate your body’s energy levels, as well as reducing palpations. Less caffeine will also help if you’re finding it hard to sleep.
On the subject of sleep – a study has shown that approx 61% of menopausal women report insomnia symptoms. Sleep deprivation can lead to loss of concentration, fatigue and even have an effect on your mental health. Looking after your body will help you sleep, thus leaving you more able to cope with the day.
Start the day with a healthy and substantial breakfast. A slow release energy breakfast will give you the best fuel to tackle the day.
Meditation is another way to positively impact menopause symptoms. Taking even just a few minutes out each day will help alleviate anxiety, improve concentration and help with restful sleep.
Exercise has been proven to help reduce the symptoms of menopause – however this isn’t always easy to achieve when you’re stuck in an office from 9-5. When you get home you just want to collapse!
Here are some simple things you can do whilst at work:
- Try to get outdoors and take a walk at lunchtime. Put your phone on silent and breathe in the fresh air – taking vital time to refresh your mind.
- Find a quiet space or empty room and have a stretch or practice some yoga moves – focus on your breathing and on the quietness of the moment. No one will notice that you have disappeared for 5 minutes, but even this short amount of time taken out can help reduce stress levels, blood pressure, ease back pain and increase concentration levels.
- Consider walking/cycling/running to work. Many employers now offer incentives for not using your car or public transport to get to work. Not only will it increase your fitness levels and help with your menopause symptoms, but it will also give you a chance to have that much needed YOU time, meaning that when you walk through the door to your family, you can greet them with a smile.
Communication – Don’t suffer in silence. Let a close colleague know you’re suffering, so that you have someone to turn to if you get a sudden hot flush or moment of anxiety.
Talk with your manager. It may be embarrassing to you, but don’t let that be a reason to suffer alone – remember many other woman have to go through menopause at some point in their lives. If your manager is aware of what you are going through, they will be able to offer support. However, failure to communicate could lead them to become frustrated that your performance isn’t at its usual high standard.
Ask your manager or HR for their Menopause Policy. If they don’t have one, then send them a link to this article, and suggest they create one!
Preparation – Take a menopause survival kit to work! Here’s some ideas for what to put in it.
- A big bottle of water with a pop up lid, so that you can easily access it if you need to.
- A change of underwear & clothes for those moments when your hot flushes have made your clothes look like you’ve been to the gym, or your womb decides to shed a layer with no prior warning.
- Some high energy snacks, such as raisins, bananas, even glucose tablets. If you’re hitting a lull and need a boost, then these can help you make it through the day!
- Layer your clothing! It’s difficult to dress appropriately for the office temperature at the best of times – it’s either boiling outside and freezing inside, or vice versa! If you layer your clothes with vest tops, cardigans etc, and choose natural fibres such as cotton, this can help you to regulate your body temperature, when your hormones are sending the internal thermostat haywire!
- Keep a pocket fan and face cooling spritz in your handbag! Perfect for those moments when you’re radiating heat.
Legal rights: In an ideal world, your employer should understand your struggles that may occur in menopause. However, sadly, many workplaces are still behind with their practices for supporting working women of any age, be it through menopause, pregnancy or raising a family while working.
Here are some lesser-known facts to help you understand where you stand.
It is your statutory right to formally request flexible working if you have been employed for at least 26 weeks. Here’s more information on how this should be handled.
If your employer does not recognise or make reasonable adjustments for the fact that the menopause can cause lack of concentration and a drop in performance, then you could have grounds for making a legal claim against them. The case of Ms Merchant in 2012 is an example of this. She won her case against her employer for Unfair Dismissal and Direct Sex Discrimination as the employer did not take into account her medical conditions caused by menopause.
Stuart Seagrove. Employment law at Dutton Gregory adds –
‘With women making up a large proportion of the workforce in the UK menopause affecting nearly all women at some point during their working like it is prudent for employers to make their managers aware of the effect that the menopause can have on female employees. Female employees should not be made to feel embarrassed if they raise that they are having problems due to the menopause and a good employer would look to support their employees rather than ignore or punish them’.
Lastly – it’s great to remember the positives of the menopause. Not only is it fantastic to not have to worry about periods or contraception any more, but your children most likely have either left home or are fairly self-sufficient, and you’re most likely fairly financially stable, so it can be a perfect time in your life where you can focus on your self. Celebrities such as Davina McCall, and Kim Cattrall have proven that this can even be a time in your life to shine!
If you are at the stage where you are looking to make positive changes in your life and embrace menopause and all it brings, then take a look at the Menogo Retreat for Mind, Body, Spirit and Menopause in Andalucía, Spain from 16 – 22 September 2018.
At the retreat you will learn how to put the ‘me’ into menopause and say yes to you!