Menopause – Its a Nightmare by Amanda Reynolds, Blend Associates Ltd.
For world menopause day my team were keen that I write something of my own experiences navigating peri and full menopause. The team know many of my systems and the adjustments I make to get through the days and weeks when symptoms flare up. They have and continue to be kind and compassionate to me as that helps me on the bad days. I am 56 so can tell you quite a story here
But I was nervous sharing this more widely as I work hard to continue to be a success when at times, I also experience diminished personal effectiveness. I am known as a coach, as a founder, entrepreneur, and business leader not a menopause sufferer! I’m proud of the business we have grown Blend Associates Ltd. We have our 10-year anniversary of incorporation later this year. This is also the 10th year I’ve experience peri and now full menopause symptoms. So as a woman it’s time to speak up about what’s it is like leading a business at this time of life. Maybe I can help other women realise they are not alone, and they are not in a downward spiral they will never recover from.
I write this for HR directors, managers and women themselves in the hope something might resonate. CIPD research in 2019 said:
Three out of five (59%) working women between the ages of 45 and 55 who are experiencing menopause symptoms say it has a negative impact on them at work.
I want to start by saying I have never even on the worst days for symptoms thought I would give up work. I love leading Blend and the work we do as a faculty of amazing coaches and supervisors and the services we offer our clients. I am so proud to be associated with it all.
So, don’t assume just because we have rough days we don’t want to continue to work and lead as women. But organisations do need to reflect on how to support us better to remain in work and to be effective at work.
Being a woman with the menopause has been as the title suggests, at times A NIGHTMARE. My particular symptoms have included:
Insomnia, night sweats, cravings for sugar and carbs – so weight gain, mood swings, loss of confidence and word jumbles.
I have needed to make many adjustments to continue to be effective. This is easier when you are the boss running your own business. So, Blend helps me blend my life and my work to be effective.
I think if employers see menopause as they see pregnancy and return to work after maternity leave, then they would see the benefit of reasonable adjustments for us in the workplace.
My reasonable adjustments start with reviewing my diary each week and day to check how I’m doing right now. I’ve learnt it is easy to try to do too much but this loses focus quickly for me. So, I concentrate on a few things I excel at done well now.
Strategies of mine include:
- Wearing an ŌURA ring to track my sleep, Heart Rate Variation, recovery and temperature.
- Not doing meetings before 9.30 if possible. If I’ve not slept, I may be up at 7am but my brain is not!
- If I have evening UK/Morning USA meets I don’t start until later that day.
- Walk the dog morning and night as movement and sunlight seem to help my sleep rhythms.
- Space out my meetings on MS Teams/zoom so I have breaks to move to rest etc.
- Tell people if I’m having a bad day or few days and ask for help so you are not alone.
- Laugh about it especially my work jumble emails seem worse after a phase of symptoms. Can you guess what I really mean team!
- Eat a main meal before 6pm as my body struggles to get ready for bed and digest food at the same time.
- Cut down or cut out alcohol as it really triggers my mood swings and anxiety.
- Mediate, rest, read, be creative but most of all realise this season will end and now 10 years in I have some great days and sleep whole nights and then the energy levels are amazing.
I could also tell you what menopause is teaching me emotionally about what I value, what I don’t value, grief and self and other compassion. But that is a whole other blog.
If you are experiencing the menopause or lead teams of women, why not get some support from our blend team for 121 coaching or attend one of our workshops. Many of our coaches have lived experience of menopause so like me empathise with clients in this space. We can also talk to you about our work coaching with the Oura ring.