When it comes to menopause, attitude is everything.
Dawn M. Olsen
Menopause is one of those things
that every woman will experience in life, provided she lives long enough, no
matter what. It’s just a fact of life. It’s also something that most women don’t
look forward to.
Unless a woman has needed an early hysterectomy that has brought about the
symptoms of menopause before the natural age they would have begun, or there has
been an unusual health problem that has triggered these symptoms, the usual age
for menopause to begin is about fifty. It is not unusual, however, to begin
experiencing intermittent symptoms a few years before, but in general, fifty is
the ‘normal’ age for the onset of these indications on a regular basis.
Medically, the general rule is that once a woman has stopped menstruating for 12
months, she is considered to have begun menopause.
However, there’s much more to menopause than most women realize. Of course,
there are the physical changes, but often times it’s the emotional changes that
are the most dramatic in a woman’s life and usually the least understood.
As with anything, there are certainly advantages and disadvantages with entering
the menopausal years of life. Unfortunately, the negatives are what much of
society focuses on the most. We’ve all heard the jokes about the mood swings,
quick-triggered temper tantrums, and lack of sexual drive attributed to
menopause. While all of these things can be, and often are, a part of menopausal symptoms, they don’t have to be. How a woman deals with her individual symptoms
is entirely up to her. The truth is, along with the physical and emotional
changes comes a kind of freedom that women can experience … if she chooses to.
probably heard the adage, “attitude is everything”. With menopause, that adage
is proven correct once again. No one needs to be what the world deems ‘typical’
when it comes to menopause. No one, no matter how severe the symptoms are, needs
to allow her personality or demeanor to change in a negative way. Regrettably,
there are those who choose to use their menopause as an excuse for being
disagreeable and unpleasant, and although it’s usually these that we hear the
most about, I have found they are not the majority.
As with anything, life has natural ups and downs. There are events that change
life’s circumstances. Some are welcomed; some are not. While a new baby, a new
job, or moving to a new location may be very welcomed and even anticipated with
excitement, the death of a child, a parent, or a long term illness are not. Yet,
each of those life changes must be dealt with on an individual basis. We must
carry on regardless of those situations. How we as individuals do that makes a
tremendous difference to everything else we do, and to everyone else around us.
Menopause is one of those life changes. How a woman handles those changes is
truly a choice she must make on a continuing basis. Whether she chooses to use
hormone therapy replacement, whether she sets up her own physical and mental
regimen through exercise, diet, or other means, or whether she decides to “go it
alone” and just ride it out until it’s hopefully over, she is entirely
responsible for the daily attitude she carries throughout.
This is a time in a woman’s life when most, if not all of her children, are
leaving or have left the now empty nest. She may begin to feel un-needed. In her
mind, her purpose, especially if she’s been a stay-at-home-mom, seems to be in
jeopardy. There will be times when she wonders if she has anything left to offer
others in her life. It’s at this time that she will be most tempted to give in
to the “woe is me” pattern.
Now that she has more time to spend on herself, she may begin to notice the
facial wrinkles more regularly, more fatigue a little earlier in the evenings,
and the softer tummy roll, the drooping turkey neck, and the triceps that are
now turning to flab and waving like a sail in the wind when she motions with her
hands. It’s not a very appealing picture. Regardless of the “old” woman she
discovers, the focus should be on the “new” woman on the inside.
There are things that can be done to help a menopausal woman’s attitude. So,
what are they? There are many answers to that question, and even if she doesn’t
follow through on every one, pursuing even a few of them will go far in
beginning the attitude changes.
First of all, she needs to set her mind not to give in to “feelings”. Feelings
are deceitful and can change in a moment, so she needs to make the decision not
to react immediately to situations or circumstances because she “feels” like it.
She needs to stop herself from blowing up at the drop of a hat. She needs to
resist that snide, venomous comment; exercising self-control by not letting
others’ behavior or words throw a wrench into her day. It’s not worth taking it
out on those she cares about.
Secondly, it helps greatly to take time to pamper herself. No one wants to get
up early every morning, so she should choose one day a week to either sleep in
an hour longer, or go to bed an hour earlier than usual. Too much sleep has a
reverse affect, but an extra hour will help her to be more refreshed and
rejuvenated from a long stressful week.
Thirdly, everyone knows that if a woman looks good, she’ll feel better. Taking
that extra hour of rest is just the beginning. Planning a few days ahead will
assure that extra time to sleep, and the additional pampering when she gets up.
She could make it a point to spend a little leisure time in the bath instead of
showering. Then the skin care, a little extra care with her makeup, and a look
in a magazine or catalog for a new hairdo can give an extra boost to her
attitude. Now this doesn’t mean an unnecessary trip to the salon to spend
foolishly. It means tying her hair up for a change, or maybe attempting a little
A clean change of clothes; maybe dressing up a little if the rest of the week
was casual, or dressing down if weekdays are filled with pantsuits, skirts, and
heels. Then a quick refreshing walk around the block or down the road, some deep
breaths of crisp clean air, and everything around her will look rosier, simply
because her outlook is bright and optimistic.
Recently, there have been many studies done concerning women’s attitudes toward
menopause, particularly from those women who were experiencing menopause
themselves. Ironic as it may be, it was found that women from western cultures
believed they suffered most from negative symptoms, both physically and
emotionally. Women from non-western cultures in general had very few problems
Parallel to that, it was also found that it’s the western cultures where
negative discussions about menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, decreased
sexual desire, and headaches are highly focused on, whereas in non-western
cultures the positive is highlighted instead. Many researchers believe the
social attitudes, whether negative or positive, play a very important role in
determining the severity of symptoms from the women in that culture.
In short, if the negative is preached long enough, it becomes accepted thinking
and considered the norm. The same is also true when it’s the positive that is
being permeated. If the focus is on the negative, those around become negative
in their thinking. When the positive is being focused on, it’s the positive
outlook that becomes contagious.
Given this new information along with centuries of examples, it shouldn’t be a
surprise if women become like those they associate with. After all, while
growing up haven’t we all heard our mother’s say, “She’s a bad influence; stay
away from her.”
So … if a woman going through menopause is a “grumpy old crab”, the time is
better spent with someone else. Being pleasant is a choice; and unlike many
choices we make, this one is long lasting and WILL be remembered.
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