Managing menopause at work
Did you know there are over 3.5 million women aged over 50 in the workplace – and that’s just in Britain. The average age for a woman to go through menopause is 51 and in the United Kingdom we retire at 68. This means there are 17 years on average that women are menopausal and post menopausal at work. In fact one third of a woman’s working life.
The emotional and physical changes you experience during and after menopause may impact various aspects of your work. For example just like all other relationships, the relationships you have with co-workers and bosses can change and maybe feel awkward. Your productivity may decrease as you experience the physical and psychological symptoms and take time to adjust. In a recent survey, a quarter of women questioned said they had considered leaving working due to menopause symptoms, so it is a very real issue for women at work.
In previous years women have felt embarrassed about being menopausal and largely kept their symptoms and feelings private. Fortunately menopause is increasingly being recognised as a valid occupational health issue which is a great help to women where awareness exists. However there is still some way to go. You need to take charge and make sure your working environment is one where you feel you want to stay.
How to manage your menopause at work
In addition to the lifestyle changes you can make to help with menopause symptoms, there are a few options open to you at work:
- Discuss your symptoms with your line manager or other sympathetic management and see if adjustments can be made to your working environment. It may help you to have a fan for hot flushes or flexibility in working hours.
- If your company is large enough, you may have an occupational health department who have already thought about how menopausal symptoms can be accommodated within the work place.
- Brain fog may affect your cognitive abilities at work (and home). Use technology to give you reminders and assistance where possible.
- Avoid hot flush triggers at important times e.g. before an important meeting by reducing caffeine and spicy food intake.
- Manage your diary around your symptoms where possible. For example if you can set the clock by your hot flushes avoid meetings and presentations at these times.
- Get help from your colleagues, especially the ones in the same boat as you. It really helps to have some friendly and upbeat mutual support around you.
- Lifestyle changes such as reducing your weight or giving up smoking will really help not just your menopause symptoms but health in general.
- Manage anxiety and mood swings using meditation and mindfulness. The 4-7-8 breathing technique will also help if you are feeling stressed and panicky. Breathe in through nose for 4, hold for 7, breathe out through mouth for 8. Repeat 4 times.
- If you feel your confidence waning due to menopause remember positive affirmations can be a great help. These are positive statements to get your mindset in the right direction. You need to repeat them regularly and out loud to yourself. We frequently publish affirmations on our Instagram and Facebook profiles or you can make up your own.
Above all do not suffer in silence. There are plenty of things you can do to make your working and home life easier.