As we age, our bodies start to change and this can bring with it both amazing highs and unexperienced lows. The world of perimenopause and menopause might not be a topic you hear discussed very option – but the fact is it’s likely to impact every woman in the workplace at some point or another.
‘The Change’ has always been shrouded in mystery, and not talking about it can make it that much harder to deal with. It is, after all, a change – and a massive one at that.
With the right conversations, support and mindset, when we reach the perimenopausal stage of our lives we can truly unlock a goldmine of previously untapped potential.
On the 30th May, our very own Jo Smedley hosted an Instagram Live alongside the wonderful Kathryn Scordino. They took a deep dive into the impact perimenopause and menopause is having on women everywhere, as well as their ABCs for navigating the ageing process and how to make it your superpower!
Perimenopause & Why We’re Talking About It
In our opinion, what happens to us when we reach the perimenopause stage of our lives is not talked about enough. And because no one is talking about it, it makes it all the more confusing and scary when we start to experience the side effects for ourselves.
Menopausal women are the fastest-growing demographic in the workplace (according to ONS). That being said, when you look at the US’ Fortune 500 list, only 8% of the CEOs are female. Why the discrepancy?
Well, 30% of women leave their careers because of the experience of perimenopause. This means that females are going through this life-changing experience at the same age most men are becoming CEOs.
The impact of perimenopause is physical, mental and emotional – and because these conversations aren’t being had enough, they’re experiencing these symptoms without realising what’s actually causing them.
This is leading to missed opportunities, as if we were all opening up about the perimenopause and what it brings we’d be able to navigate it in a way that would not only be manageable – but would enable us to thrive!
If things don’t start to change, more and more women are going to continue to resign or walk away at a time when the female presence is greatly needed in the workplace.
One of the biggest questions that comes up when we’re talking about perimenopause is: ‘what help can I access?’. Finding credible information is important. The perimenopausal phase of life is a multi-million-pound industry, pharmaceutical companies across the world are trying to flog all sorts of lotions, potions and magic cures – but that’s not life!
Finding clear information is the key to understanding what’s happening to your body and to your brain.
Dr Wendy Sweet offers an amazing online masterclass and webinar on menopause, plus there are some amazing TED Talks by Andrea Berchowitz and Lisa Mosconi around the impact it can have on both our bodies and our brains.
Accepting and embracing the changes that come alongside perimenopause is crucial. Once you know what is happening to your body, it’s time to be kind to yourself. This phase of life is extremely vulnerable if you’re not putting yourself at the top of your to-do list.
It’s time to sit back and holistically think about what’s happening. Look at sleep, stress, diet and exercise – this is completely individual, and you are the expert in you. Take the time to tap into what your body needs, you’ll quickly feel liberated when you start to wholeheartedly take care of yourself as a priority. As a plus, this will then help you nail caring for others at the same time.
Once you’ve equipped yourself with the buoyancy aid you need to navigate the sea of perimenopause you’ll soon find there is a lot of golden potential in this phase of life.
It takes guts to own up, admit and be brave about this phase of life. But we can face into it and have courage, it doesn’t have to be scary.
Ageing is a privilege. We’re living longer so it’s important to be able to talk, without shame, about who we are becoming and move forwards.
With bravery comes vulnerability, which means you have to share with others what you’re going through. Sometimes this may feel harder than others – but being vulnerable opens doors for you and also allows others to feel like they can start that conversation too.
You’d be surprised, a little bit of bravery goes a long way.
Having compassion and kindness for self in the perimenopausal stage of life is imperative. This means being compassionate towards both physical and mental symptoms and compassion for others.
Before you’ve experienced the impact menopause can have, and before you’ve built up the awareness and acceptance we’ve already spoken about, it might be hard to have compassion for the people around you who are going through the same thing.
We should strive to be more aware and talk more openly. Starting to speak about it now enables us to find compassion for self and those around us.
One step to help as you move through this phase of life is finding connection in places that are meaningful and purposeful for you.
Following the announcement of this Zest for Life special, we had a number of men reach out about the women in their lives dealing with these issues, and they were really interested in learning more about how to support them.
Connection isn’t just about connecting with people who are going through the same issues, but about connecting with everyone and spreading awareness. Far too often with issues concerning these topics we tend to exclude men, and we shouldn’t. Talking openly and honestly to the men around you opens the doors for them to support you too.
What Can We All Do?
We’ve already covered that menopausal women are the fastest-growing demographic in the workplace, so what can organisations do to aid this?
Well, it’s important to understand that this is a difficult time, and also acknowledge that it’s totally individual – no one size fits all.
This being said, there has to be some self-responsibility to speak up about what they need, but they can’t do this if they feel frightened they’ll be misjudged, overlooked or that their job will be at risk.
As an employer, you have to create an atmosphere of psychological safety that enables people to be themselves with a healthy dose of self-awareness.
If organisations can get better at this, we won’t need blanket well-being initiatives. Instead, we’ll be creating amazing, nurturing cultures where all individuals to continue to thrive whilst they access what they need to be well.