If you’re headed into menopause at full speed — perhaps you’re caring for kids and aging parents and managing a career and balancing a million other commitments — now might be the perfect moment to pause and re-think your self-care habits. Finding some time to focus on your own wellbeing can help ease menopause symptoms (if you have them) and keep you healthy now and for years to come.
Here are eight habits to add to your self-care list:
1. Keep a period calendar
During perimenopause, menstrual cycles begin to change. Cycles can get longer or shorter, and flow can be heavier or lighter. Keeping a calendar of your cycles can help you track changes and figure out your new normal (for a great way to do this, check out the cycle-tracking in the calendar section of Ovia Fertility app!). A calendar is also helpful if you have questions or concerns you want to share with your doctor.
2. Take care of your bones
The risk of bone loss (osteoporosis) goes up around menopause. So now is a great time to start taking care of your bone health. Here’s what you can do to keep your bones strong:
- Add sources of calcium and vitamin D to your diet.
- Avoid smoking and drink in moderation.
- Get regular weight-bearing, strength-training, and balance exercise. Weight-bearing and strength exercises put stress on your bones, which increases bone mass — aim for this kind of exercise at least three times each week. Balance exercises protect your bones by helping reduce your risk of falling.
3. Stick to a healthy weight
Many women start gaining weight in the years heading up to and after menopause, especially around the belly. Since abdominal fat may raise your risk for heart disease, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on weight gain. Consider taking this opportunity to focus on eating well and making time for exercise. And talk with your doctor about the weight that’s healthy for you.
4. Protect your sleep
Some women have a harder time getting a good night’s rest around menopause, so consider leveling up your sleep habits. Try setting aside some time before bed each night to do something calm and relaxing that puts you in the right mood to let go of the day.
You can also improve your sleep by keeping a regular sleep schedule, making sure your bedroom is cool and dark, and skipping alcohol, caffeine, and heavy meals for a few hours before bedtime.
If hot flashes (also known as night sweats) are interrupting your sleep, there are lots of things that can help. Read about treatments here.
5. Give your teeth and gums some love
Did you know that gum disease increases your risk for heart disease? It’s just one more reason to take good care of your mouth, including daily brushing and flossing, along with dentist visits twice a year.
6. Nurture your skin
Healthy skin isn’t just about cleansers and moisturizers. To keep your skin glowing, avoid smoking, lower stress, get enough sleep and physical activity, and drink plenty of water—yep, pretty much all the important things that help keep the rest of your body well, too. It’s also important to use sunscreen regularly. If your skin is dry, skip hot showers and baths because they can dry your skin even more.
7. Don’t forget your Kegels
You might remember Kegels if you’ve ever been pregnant, and they’re important again now. That’s because urinary incontinence is common around menopause and beyond. Kegels can help by strengthening your pelvic floor—and you can do them pretty much anytime and anywhere. Simply contract the muscles you use when you urinate, hold, and release. Try for 10 Kegels, five times a day. (One great side effect of Kegels: they can improve your sex life, too.)
8. Be good to your heart
There’s lots you can do to keep your heart strong and lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. Plus, if you’re already planning to try the self-care habits above, you’ve got most of the healthy-heart list covered:
- Get regular exercise.
- Keep your weight in the healthy range.
- Eat well, including plenty of fruits, veggies, protein, and whole grains.
- Lower stress.
- Avoid smoking. (We know that quitting is one of the hardest lifestyle changes you can make. Talk to your doctor about ways to help.)
- Have your blood pressure checked, and work with your doctor if your numbers are high.
- Have your cholesterol and triglycerides checked, and make changes to your diet or begin medication if your numbers are above the healthy range.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
- The North American Menopause Society: https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/women’s-health-and-menopause/staying-healthy-at-menopause-and-beyond
- National Institute on Aging (NIH): https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/infographics/menopause-tips-healthy-transition
- ACOG: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/experts-and-stories/the-latest/my-periods-have-changed-is-menopause-around-the-corner
- The North American Menopause Society: https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/bone-health-and-heart-health/bone-health-exercise-is-a-key-component