HELP! Menopause and Lockdown Don’t Mix
Sunday, 28 February, 2021

HELP! Menopause and Lockdown Don’t Mix

Has the extended lockdown got you hot and bothered? If watching the pandemic news updates just cranks up your menopausal anxiety, then use Susie Debice’s no-nonsense lockdown menopause guide to help prevent unwanted lockdown weight gain and restless nights.

What’s become glaringly obvious about our new normal lockdown lifestyle is that it’s phenomenally unhealthy. And what do we know about the menopause – it gets way more challenging if you’re unfit, unhealthy, overweight, stressed and not sleeping properly!

Unless you are a fitness fanatic and have remained dedicated to an early morning run or readily brave the winter elements for a blast of pedal power, the chances are that your fitness levels have been fading during lockdown.

Fading Fitness

Before lockdown all the activities of normal life contributed to a baseline of on-the-move fitness. Trips to the supermarket, meeting up with friends, getting to and from work and even the school run would mean that for parts of your day, you were on your feet and being active. Before lockdown you may have been easily achieving 5K steps a day, or 10K if your job is active. Then of course you could easily go to the gym for classes and workouts or swimming. Unless you’ve had a good reason to be active such as dog walking, the new normal of home schooling, working from home, online shopping and catching up with friends and family via Zoom means you’re unlikely to making an impact on your fitness.

Step up your activity!

The consequences of being inactive are more enhanced during the menopause as this is a time when your metabolism, bone health, mental health and stress levels are already challenged by changing hormone levels. Exercise has many positive benefits from supporting energy and metabolism, lifting mood and mindset, melting stress and anxiety and supporting bone density. It’s time to dust of your trainers and get moving and start increasing your steps to the recommended 10K a day! Tracking your daily steps is easier than you think.

  • Buy a pedometer.
  • Use the Health app on your iPhone which has an integrated pedometer.
  • Use a fitness watch e.g., Fitbit.
  • Download a pedometer app to your smart phone.

Count your units.

According to a national survey from Alcohol Change UK, 21% of people in the UK are drinking more frequently during lockdown. Out of the people surveyed 25% said they were drinking as a response to stress and anxiety, both of which are common symptoms of the menopause and there are concerns that anxiety and sleeplessness have become heightened for menopausal women during lockdown. It’s a good idea to keep a note of your daily alcohol units for a couple of weeks to make sure that you aren’t exceeding the upper limit of 14 units a week.

  • 1 glass of wine 3 units          
  • 1 bottle of wine 10 units
  • 1 glass of prosecco 5 units
  • 1 pint of lager 3 units
  • 1 pint of bitter 8 units
  • Single spirit + mixer    1 unit
  • Double spirit + mixer    2 units

Healthy habits

Habits can be quick to form and hard to break. So rather than reach for alcohol to counterbalance stress and anxiety, which by the way is likely to increase hot flushes and night sweats, find an alternative and healthier way to unwind. Online meditation or yoga classes, exercise and even counselling would be far better for your state of mind and your mornings will feel a lot more manageable too.

Too buzzed up

Pacing around the house like a caged animal is not the best way to while away your lockdown hours so keep an eye on your caffeine and sugar intake. Tea, coffee, colas and chocolate all contain caffeine and sugary snacks, puddings, fruit juice and soft drinks can all leave you feeling over-stimulated and unable to achieve a restorative and peaceful night’s sleep. Cutting back on sugar foods while the gyms are closed and your activity levels are lower than normal is also going to help prevent unwanted lockdown weight gain.

  • Swap tea and coffee for herbal teas.
  • Swap fruit juice and soft drinks for water with fresh lemon and lime.
  • Swap chocolate, cakes and biscuits for crackers and hummus or fresh fruit.
  • Swap puddings for fresh fruit.
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