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Author Carol E Wyer gives some advice on how to manage the menopause at work.
Hot flushes, mood swings and memory loss are to be expected as you go through ‘that’ time of your life along with a few other symptoms that might surprise you, such as itching or dry mouth. These are a nuisance at any time but when you are working you need to be more prepared for these to happen. Forewarned is forearmed and there is much you can do to help transit the menopause without everyone at work knowing about it.
Admittedly, it’s not going to be easy if you are having a ‘no energy’ day and your boss suddenly decides to give you three reports to type up before lunch. They might well be in danger of getting them thrown back at him, along with the stapler and post it notes as you hurl them across the desk with tears pouring down your face.
However, there is much in the way of advice available on websites.
Caring for yourself is paramount. Make sure you eat energy producing foods and exercise, even when you feel under par.
If you don’t fancy pounding the local streets at six thirty each morning (and let’s face it, who does?) then take up activities or hobbies that will help keep you active. Dancing is ideal. If you can’t manage going to classes, then put on a 1970’s special like Dancing Queen by ABBA, sing along and strut about the kitchen while swigging your morning smoothie. Better still, why not try it out in the staffroom at work? You might even be able to get Harold from accounts to jig along.
Should dancing be out of bounds, then surely singing can’t be? It will help you feel less moody. Sing when you are in the toilet, behind your desk, in the supermarket or when you are taking the elevator. Hum on the bus to work. I usually choose silly songs like Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. You’ll be amazed how many others will be humming it too after a short while.
Getting a hot flush at work can be awkward. Keep a fan on your desk, in your drawer or a portable one in your handbag. If you have a fridge at work, keep a small spray bottle of water and spritz yourself when needed. Or, use one of those subtle ice bags that keep cold all day. No one will notice if you slip one into your hands to cool you down.
If you work with women, laugh about what is happening, they will be sympathetic. I found that joking about it helped hugely. Check out jokes and cartoons online. Laughter causes the production of serotonin that can help ease anxiety and make you feel better.
Should you have any anxieties at all about symptoms you feel might be related to the menopause, talk to a professional. If you don’t want to do that, check out forums or groups online. Facebook has many such groups where women freely discuss their problems. Sometimes the anonymity of the internet is better than trying to talk face-to-face with someone.
Try to get as much rest at home as you can because many of the symptoms are worse when you are tired or stressed. Most symptoms can be controlled by good diet, exercise, herbal remedies and a healthy positive attitude.
Finally, remember you are not alone – millions of women are going through exactly the same thing at the same time. See it doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?
Understanding the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population is vital if we want to create productive, innovative and inclusive multi-generational teams as we all lead longer working lives. workingwise.co.uk is a job and community site, from the people behind workingmums.co.uk, specially focused on older workers looking for flexibility and improved work-life balance, and the employers who recognise what they have to offer.