Helen from Menopause Café reflects on the impact of COVID-19 on people experiencing menopause, and how Menopause Café are responding.
Two of the most frequently discussed topics at Menopause Cafés are anxiety and insomnia. For some women these come out of the blue around perimenopause, for others the intensity and regularity of their existing problems ratchet up. We tend not to hear so much about these aspects of menopause. Typically, hot flushes and night sweats get top billing, but it’s often anxiety and a chronic lack of sleep that stop women in their tracks.
It’s easy to see then, even without a pandemic, that the menopausal transition can leave women feeling unmotivated, vulnerable and exhausted. And now with COVID19 there’s an added sense of uncertainty over jobs, access to healthcare, and HRT supplies. This uncertainty adds to an already complex set of circumstances that can leave us feeling lost and isolated.
What to do though, and where to start? How about with ourselves. As women we often put others first, we’re stoic, we plough on. But perhaps, this is a good opportunity to pause and reflect. We don’t have to be Wonder-Woman, just maybe good enough is in fact, good enough? Practising daily self-care lies at the heart of maintaining a sense of wellbeing. It will mean different things to different people, but ultimately, it’s about being kind to ourselves, taking a few moments to slow down both body and mind, to become mindfully aware, to breath, and to relax.
It’s imperative, now more so than ever that we don’t become isolated and that we maintain some form of connection to others. To quote Brené Brown “Connection is why we’re here. It is what gives us purpose and meaning to our lives”. However, tackling a sense of isolation can be a more challenging task if social anxiety and low confidence are part of your menopause experience. Making a trip to the supermarket at the best of times might be difficult but add in the new complexities of maintaining distances and navigating aisles in the designated direction, it can leave us feeling totally overwhelmed.
It would be all too easy to be negative about the current situation. However, that would only be part of the story. In the days after the first lockdown we witnessed an incredible upswell of kindness and generosity, a demonstration of all that is good about humankind. Neighbours started shopping for neighbours, yoga instructors started to post daily mini-workout clips on Instagram, meditation practitioners hosted group sessions on Zoom, artists offered drawing workshops, nurses and menopause experts ran Q&A sessions on Facebook. All totally free.
For our part we started rolling out twice-weekly virtual Menopause Café® events using Zoom. They’ve proven to be popular, and we’ve had folk all over the world join in from Kansas to Kathmandu, Aberdeen to Anglesey. We discuss everything related to menopause, from depression to sore gums, hair loss to vaginal dryness. And, whilst there are sad moments, there are also many uplifting conversations where we laugh, share moments of joy and smile together. It’s also fun to see the occasional dog or cat make an unscheduled appearance! We’ll continue to host online Menopause Café® events for as long as folk want to have conversations about menopause.
To learn more about Menopause Café® head to www.menopausecafe.net (this link will take you away from our website)