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Are you making New Year’s Resolutions or planning positive changes in your life? Find out how simple changes can make a big difference.
January brought with it the start of a New Year, a new decade, and like many others, you might have thought about making some New Year’s Resolutions.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions, I always feel that I’m setting myself up for a fall, but I do love setting myself a challenge or making a positive change in my life, whatever time of year it may be!
In previous years, I’ve set myself reading challenges which have seen me read as many as 55 books in 12 months, and taken on a couch-to-5k challenge. This year, I’m planning on going meat-free for at least two days each week and I’m also looking for a yoga class to join.
However, it’s important to remember that you don’t need the calendar to tell you that it’s OK to take up a new hobby, or make changes to your exercise habits. You can do this any time that you feel you’re ready to make a positive change.
Start whenever you’re ready.
For those women going through the peri-menopause or menopause, you may find this to be a very liberating time of life. If you’ve had children, they’re probably getting older and more self-sufficient, and you’ve got more time to dedicate to your own interests and hobbies again, making this the ideal time to think about the positive changes you wish to make.
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Several of my friends have also told me that they feel more self-confident at this stage of life, and that not worrying about periods has freed them up to enjoy activities much more. When you’re feeling good about yourself, you’ll feel more prepared to make positive changes for the year ahead and beyond.
Here are some simple ways you can make a positive change:
Switch up your exercise routine
Exercise is really important for good health, so perhaps your positive change will mean adding exercise into your week. And as we approach menopause and beyond, there is even more reason to take up exercise.
Weight-bearing exercise like walking, dancing or playing tennis can help to strengthen bones, as can resistance exercise like lifting weights. This is important because falling oestrogen levels can contribute towards the risk of osteoporosis (brittle bones). ¹
Exercise has other benefits such as boosting your mood and improving self-esteem. It can also be a great way to socialise.
But don’t over-commit yourself, you’re more likely to stick to your new habit if you start with achievable goals. You could aim to fit in one or two sessions of exercise per week and go from there.
And if you already have a regular exercise habit, then maybe you could try out something new. If you’re a big fan of cardio, maybe try resistance exercise like lifting weights or a Pilates class.
The main thing is to pick exercise that you enjoy, which doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym or pounding the pavements. You might prefer to try a Zumba class, go swimming or try something totally new like rock climbing!
Start a new hobby
If you have kids who are now young adults, you may be finding that you have extra time on your hands. So maybe now is a good time to take up a new hobby or pastime.
You could try your hand at something that you’ve always wanted to. You might fancy doing something crafty at home or take an evening class to learn a new language or skill. Try contacting your local college for details of their adult education classes.
Or, it may be that you want to pick up an old hobby. Did you take piano lessons at school, or perhaps you used to enjoy tap dancing as a child? You might be a little rusty now, but why not take a refresher course and see if you can pick it back up.
Learning a new skill is a great way to keep your brain active, which is important as we get older.
Reduce your Environmental Impact
Shows like David Attenborough’s The Blue Planet have recently highlighted the issue of environmental damage, so you might feel that you want to try and reduce your environmental footprint.
If this is the positive change that you’re looking to make this year, here are a few simple ideas:
A simple mantra to keep in mind is ‘Reduce, re-use, recycle’. Maybe your New Year’s Resolution could be to reduce the number of disposable coffee cups you throw away. You can make this easier by carrying a collapsible, reusable cup with you.
Or, you could do a big clear out and send your unwanted items to charity shops rather than to refill. And a great resolution would be to try and recycle more of your household waste. Remember to check your local council for details of what recycling they will accept.
Cutting down on meat is another way that you can reduce your environmental impact. You don’t have to go for a strict vegan or vegetarian diet, just eating less meat and dairy produce will help to reduce your carbon footprint. And trying out new vegetarian foods is good fun!
Or, you could commit to using your car less as part of your New Year’s Resolutions. Using public transport is one way to do this, or you might be able to walk or use a bike to get around. This has the added benefit of being great exercise as well – a double win!
Make time for Relaxation
21st century life is so full of stress, so it’s important to take some time out for relaxation and self-care.
And that’s definitely true in the perimenopause and menopause, because learning to relax can help you to manage some of your symptoms.
Meditation is a skill that needs to be learned and practised, but it can really help with managing stress levels. A yoga class combines both the health benefits of exercise with relaxation and meditation as well.
If those don’t appeal, then maybe you might enjoy taking a trip to a spa? A deep tissue massage is great for loosening tight shoulders!
Alternatively, you could recreate the spa experience in your own bathroom. I find that when I’m really busy, self-care tends to get overlooked. So, it’s good to carve some time out of your hectic schedule for yourself.
So, dim the lights, light some candles and relax in a scented aromatherapy bath, or treat yourself to a pampering manicure and pedicure.
As with exercise, it’s really important to find the relaxation method that suits you. Maybe you don’t find a trip to a spa very relaxing, but you’d prefer going for a walk instead.
Go on a Digital Detox
Social media is a part of modern life and it can be a very positive thing, whether that’s through reuniting family members or raising large sums of money for good causes.
I’m a very enthusiastic user of social media and wouldn’t want to be without it now. But sometimes it can feel overwhelming, and the stressful aspects can start to outweigh the many benefits.
When this happens, it can help to go on a digital detox, where you take a break from the online world. You could commit to taking one day off social media each week, or maybe you would like to switch your phone off once you get in from work in the evenings.
Disrupted sleep patterns can be an issue during the peri-menopause and menopause, so limiting screen-time in the evenings is one way to get better sleep.
Some people might prefer to take an extended break from social media. That can help reset your habits if you feel you’re spending too long online.
I like to take regular weekends offline, and although I miss having my phone at hand, it definitely feels good to take a break!
Take charge of your menopause
It’s never too late to start making positive changes. Talking through your symptoms can be a huge source of comfort and should never be underestimated.
Whether you’re just starting to notice the first changes in your body, or you’re further into your journey towards menopause, it’s important to listen to yourself, take note of the changes that you’re experiencing and talk to others going through something similar.
The more we tackle the taboo around menopause, the less frightening it will seem. You are not alone.
The #ExpressYourFemal campaign encourages women to open up and have frank and honest discussions about their experiences, helping each other to feel more prepared about what to expect.
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These are all positive changes that you can easily adopt, whether you’re setting a New Year’s Resolution or picking a time that suits you. What positive change will you make?
¹ NHS. (2018). Menopause and bone health. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthybody/
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Date of preparation: January 2020