Women, menopause and the mental overload


As a mum I am constantly having to make decisions about things. ‘What’s for dinner?’ ‘What can I do today?’ ‘What time are we leaving?’ ‘Can Sam come over?’ The list goes on and it doesn’t stop at just the mundane questions either.

I have recently had a massive life event for my whole family it has been a huge upheaval. Finding new schools, deciding where to live, finding work, making new friends – significant decision making and thought has been required. I am juggling with the decision of which sports clubs to enrol my son into – without overscheduling him or us!

So, when my daughter asks me, for the 100th time, ‘can I have snapchat’ I honestly don’t know what to say. I don’t have the brainpower to do my research into it and make an informed decision about whether or not it is ok for a tweenager. Nor do I really want another social media app that I know causes many children harm – not to mention just another app to idle away on each hour.

What I have realised is that the mental and physical load I have had for the past few months has left me feeling completely burnt out. But the burnout is not just because of all I have had on, it’s not just the physical and mental load, but the emotional load too.

I guess no-one ever warns you about the emotional toll of pre-teen support or the overwhelm of supporting a (clinically) anxious child. Or if they did, I didn’t hear the warning! What I find even more challenging is my own sense of uncertainty as I navigate through my own personal menopause journey.

The inability at this stage to make decisions, to know what to do or to think clearly is real. Sometimes, I just want someone to make the decision for me. I think about how much expectation I put onto myself and others and I wonder if this is why no one else wants to or can make a decision – fear that I won’t like it or maybe I haven’t empowered them to make their own decisions? Who knows?

It feels like my brain is working slower than ever, is it the hormones or is it purely that it’s overloaded, and it can’t keep on functioning with all the tabs open?

Obviously, we know that during menopause transition a woman’s brain and cognition is impacted due to our changing hormones. It’s not us it’s just a moment in time and it will improve. Studies have proven that our brain function is not permanently affected, and normal programming will resume, thankfully.

There are some things, however, that I always do when I recognise I need to be kinder to myself:

  1. Prioritise sleep. Making sure I put in place some healthy sleep habits like getting off devices, reading before bed, having the room cool enough, going to bed earlier than normal, saying no to social events, eating before 7pm, exercising in the morning and writing down things that I want to achieve the following day. Anything that will aid in a better night’s sleep so that I can better focus, have more energy and emotional regulation.
  2. Conscious eating. As a perimenopausal woman, fasting each day for at least 12 hours (overnight) not only helps with weight management but also clarity and decision making. Focus on macros, getting plenty of plants (natural carbohydrates) – fibre & prebiotics are great for healthy gut health, protein and fats (great for our brains)
  3. Do something playful. Whether it be having a laugh with friends, watching something funny, dancing in the kitchen or playing with kids. Something that helps you to completely switch off and bring out your inner child. It really promotes a sense of enjoying life.
  4. Moving every day. Ideally, get outside during daylight hours, bask in the early morning sun, walk in nature, go for a run, swim, a workout, cycle with friends. Whatever it is, movement helps promote oxygen regeneration, helps with creativity and clarity.
  5. Breathe. Conscious breathing reduces cortisol levels, calms us down and helps us to focus. This might be a 5-breath daily practice or a 10-minute practice. Breathing practices like 4-7-8 (breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds and breathe out for 8 seconds), deep belly breathing, one nostril breathing; whatever your preferred practice will help to regulate your parasympathetic nervous system, calm down your heartrate and in turn help to calm your mind.

If none of this works, I also highly recommend going away with some friends and having a proper switch off – for yours and everyone else’s sake, it’s just the tonic.

While I navigate through this transition, something I am committed to do more of, not sweating the small stuff, the small stuff is the noise that distracts from what really matters. And, just saying no more often.

And, any thoughts on snapchat for teenagers is gratefully received.

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Women, menopause and the mental overload

As a mum I am constantly having to make decisions about things. ‘What’s for dinner?’ ‘What can I do today?’ ‘What time are we leaving?’ ‘Can Sam come over?’ The