If your symptoms are affecting your working day, it’s time to address them. Incorporate these valuable tips from Irish experts on how to discuss and manage menopause at work …
Catherine O’Keeffe, Menopause Coach and Wellness Warrior, is often asked which symptoms of menopause impact most in the workplace. “I must be honest and say every single one, though some are more difficult than others,” she says. “That’s because the role we are performing at work may often exacerbate symptoms. For example, if you are a nurse with ongoing chronic sleep deprivation, it is going to be a hard burden to carry. If you work in retail and are experiencing aches and pains, this can be extremely distressing being on your feet all day. Equally, sitting at a desk all day when you’re experiencing aches and pains adds further distress.”
For those who feel work can be overwhelming, O’Keeffe often recommends CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) as well as keeping a daily to-do list (especially if brain fog is an issue) aiming for five key tasks to be completed per day. Dr Mary Ryan, Consultant Endocrinologist, supports this idea: “Adapting your work routine in perimenopause and menopause in order to conserve energy, rest, recharge and focus on priority projects when you are at your best, can make a huge difference to your work performance, hormone balance and overall wellbeing.”
Irish brand Cleanmarine is engaging with experts such as Dr Ryan and Catherine O’Keeffe, to educate women about perimenopause and menopause, so they can navigate this life stage successfully. Not only does the brand provide a free essential guide to female hormones (in pharmacies, health stores and to download at Cleanmarine.ie), it also organises a series of “Let’s Talk Hormone Health” regional talks (check for updates on Eventbrite) with a complementary podcast “Let’s Talk Hormone Health” with brand ambassador Lorraine Keane.
Dr Mary Ryan and Lorraine Keane
Dr Ryan always recommends a healthy diet and appropriate exercise first, but because women have busy lives she also recommends supplementing with Vitamin D due to low sunshine in Ireland, omega 3 for heart health, B vitamins, and biotin for hair.
Central to hormone health is the nutritional supplement Cleanmarine MenoMin – a unique all-in-one omega 3, phytonutrient and vitamin blend formulated specifically for menopausal women aged 40 onwards. Each capsule of Cleanmarine MenoMin contains omega-3, biotin, rosemary extract and soy isoflavones with B vitamins and vitamin D3 to provide nutritional support. Vitamin B6 helps regulate hormonal activity and along with vitamins B1 and B12 contributes to normal psychological function. Vitamin D helps maintain healthy normal bones and is ideal for women in perimenopause and menopause who want to feel good every day.
Having support at work is a priority. O’Keeffe encourages women to seek support from their colleagues, direct line manager or HR representative or from an occupational health nurse or via an employee assistance programme. Having a menopause champion, if one exists in your company, can be a great bonus too. However, O’Keeffe acknowledges it is often hard to discuss menopause with managers, regardless of their gender. Her advice? “I recommend requesting a one-to-one meeting a week in advance. This is an important step. It allows your manager time to do some research to understand menopause and ensure the conversation will benefit both.”
O’Keeffe also suggests having in mind a desired outcome from such a meeting. “Making notes, chatting through your key concerns and perhaps role-playing the meeting with a friend or partner in advance, will also help alleviate nerves and anxiety. Prior to the meeting, have your notes and some water to hand. Remember you are here for support and your manager will want (ideally) to support you. Give your manager some time to respond with solutions. In the meeting you may agree to make some changes which may be very easy to make quickly, however there may be other solutions which may take longer. Do give your manager some time to come back to you.”
O’Keeffe encourages these open discussions as an opportunity for collaboration. “Approaching this in a united way is of huge benefit to both,” she explains. “Most organisations now offer an internal employee assistance programme which I would really encourage women to incorporate as an additional support in their working life.”
Lorraine Keane is equally encouraging: “Women in menopause are wise women! They have so much experience and are great mentors for younger generations. I encourage all women over 40 to get all the help available to navigate this life stage, educate yourself about symptoms, take the opportunity to speak to your manager, and embrace the chance to live and work at your best.”
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