Self-Care is always important, but especially so during perimenopause & menopause. Why? In short-when our hormones change, other things change. In this post, I’ll go over why self care is so important, as well as 5 ways you can easily practice self care that take up little to no time but can make a huge difference in your overall wellbeing.
Most women spend all their time taking care of everyone else, except themselves. When they do decide to spend some time journaling, reading or meditating on scripture, taking time to just eat, or move their body, the guilts tend to creep in. So they don’t do it. But they also know they need it, so the guilts creep in. So the cycle continues. Creating more worry, more stress, more stress hormones that suppress other hormones in our body responsible for sleep, digestion, metabolism, immunity and more. It ends up wearing us down until we get ill or injured or throw our hands up in defeat.
Instead of throwing in the towel, you can take this time as an opportunity to make some simple but powerful changes that can enable you to actually create health during this time when many women find their health starting to deteriorate.
Self-Care & Menopause
As our bodies shift into menopause, they start talking to us in ways that cause many women to start paying closer attention to what they are eating, how they move their body as well as how they manage stress. As our hormones shift, blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and weight start to creep up and become harder to control. It gets harder to fall asleep, stay asleep and feel like we’re fully rested. We may have mood swings, brain fog and be more susceptible to allergies or illness.
You may also find yourself reaching for food to quell those feelings of guilt, overwhelm or discouragement. All ways our bodies are trying to tell us we need to change what we’re doing.
Yet, how can you carve out any time for self-care when you’re pulled in so many different directions?
Here’s the top 5 things my clients and I find most helpful to not only save time, but ensure we do take care of ourselves by praying often, eating well & moving more throughout our day.
5. To-Do List – 2 minutes/day
We all know about this, yet do you actually practice jotting down your tasks for the day? How many times have you forgotten to do something important, or wish you had remembered to make a phone call or send a quick text?
Our brains can only remember so many things. Writing down what you need to accomplish throughout the day, helps you remember to do those little things. It also frees up your energy so you can focus on the task at hand instead of everything else you need to do later. In the end, you get more done and/or have more time to relax.
You can use a planner, an app on your phone, sticky notes – whatever works for you. I’ve tried a variety of things and found the best way, for me, is to make one the night before. That way my brain isn’t racing with thoughts as I’m trying to drift off to sleep. It literally takes me less than 2 minutes to check my calendar and then jot down a loose schedule of the tasks I need to accomplish. I then leave it by the coffee pot so I see it right away in the morning. It gives me another chance to review it with a fresh dose of motivation to hop to it. (There’s also something to that sense of accomplishment when you check those items off!)
4. Schedule it! – 1 minute/day
One of the hardest goals my clients struggle with is making time to move their bodies. Yes, there’s all kinds of advice out there about exercising 1st thing in the morning. But if you’re like me, I don’t like to move that fast (even if it’s a slower qi gong workout) that early. And even then, people think they need to sacrifice sleep so they can get up earlier to move their body. I much prefer late afternoon/before my evening meal.
No matter what time works best for you, other things can creep into that time if you don’t treat it as an important appointment or meeting. Scheduling something (like body movement or focused prayer/journaling or other self-care practices helps you protect that time and ensure you do accomplish that goal. When other opportunities arise at that time of day, it makes it easier to say, “Thanks for thinking of me, but I’ve got an appointment, a meeting or plans.”
3. Menu-Planning – 5 minutes/week
This is the #1 thing I use to practice self-care with my food choices and take the stress out of the kitchen. How much time do you spend thinking about what you’re going to make or have for your evening meal? Or lunch? Breakfast? Snacks?
As someone who chooses to eat foods that make me feel well (Yes, this is just a positive way to say I have a lot of food allergies and intolerances-and there’s a lot of foods I avoid), I used to spend all day thinking about food.
But when I take 3-5 minutes a week to come up with a loose menu and grocery list (to make sure I have on hand what I need to) for the week, my energy is freed up. On days when I know I have a lot to accomplish, I’ll even prep meals and snacks the night before. Then all I have to do is heat it up when I get hungry. But that 1st step of deciding what to have is d-o-n-e.
Here’s a link to my Free Menu Planning Guide to get you started.
2. Shake it Off – 2-5 minutes a day
You’ve heard the term before, but what good does physical shaking actually do? While there isn’t much ‘gold-standard’ research about shaking off a bad day, mood or experience it really does have benefits. It’s also an instinct.
Dogs and other animals regularly ‘shake off’ after they’ve been held, petted or ridden in a car. Our son’s little dog shakes off after every human touch. Animals & people alike will shake when they are nervous or upset. Athletes will shake before an event to not only keep their muscles warm & supple, but to shake of any nerves they may have.
Qi Gong & Tai Chi forms of body movement use shaking as a way to clear the body, mind & spirit of negativity. When I use these practices, I also like to think that I’m shaking off things to make room for more of God’s peace, love & joy.
Most of us are exposed to and carry around a lot of negativity these days. The news, social media, those people who never seem to be happy…. It can be a lot to handle. It doesn’t have to be vigorous, but gently shaking your body for even as little as 15 seconds a few times a day (with a visualization of what you’re shaking off) can help you make more room for God’s love, peace & joy.
It can also help you warm up. Think about how your body shivers when it gets cold! It gets your muscles moving and helps with circulation. Something to keep in mind as we head into winter if you tend to run cold, like me!
1. Gratitude – A few seconds here & there
Adopting an attitude of gratitude is probably the easiest, simplest way to practice self-care during menopause. It helps you see the good (God) more throughout your day. Being thankful also puts you in the right frame of mind to recognize what is going well. The more you do it, the easier it becomes and the less stressed you feel throughout your day.
Do you fall into the trap (like I do) of spending way too much time and energy nit-picking yourself and your efforts without celebrating all the amazing things you do do well or that are going well in your life? We build more of what we focus on. So why not focus on and appreciate the positive? Why not build more of an amazing, God-filled life, instead of one where you think you’re always falling short?
This is especially helpful when you’re trying to go to sleep. All those racing thoughts can send you in a downward worry spiral, making it next to impossible to drift off to sleep. Yet, taking just a few minutes to jot down 3 things you were thankful for or that brought you joy throughout the day can help you shift those thoughts. Putting you in the right frame of mind to drift off to sleep. It’s a powerful little practice I call Joy Journaling. Another little tip is to read it first thing in the morning and give thanks to God to get your day started in step with him and all the blessings he does provide.
ROI – Return on Investment
By taking less than 15 minutes a day (usually less than 5), you can set yourself up for success and ensure you do get in the self care you need to fulfill your responsibilities, serving others from a state of feeling fully charged rather than running on fumes.
If you find yourself turning to food to manage the overwhelm, frustration or overall stress in your life, check out my on-line Freeing Yourself From Emotional Eating in 30 Days Program! It’s on sale for a limited time for only $27. Click on the link below to learn more & start changing your relationship with food today!
Is there something here that you’d like to try? Are there other things you find helpful? I’d love to hear more about them in the comments below. Who knows? Your idea can be that spark of inspiration someone else has been searching for – helping us all enjoy the journey!