top of page

Friendships, Menopause, and Mental Health

Updated: Mar 8





How times have changed in Ireland. When I began working in the workplace / corporate wellbeing space less than 10 years ago, the focus was always more on supporting the physical aspect of ourselves - backache, headaches, neckpain, etc. I did deliver some sessions around mental health, but it was only really just beginning.


But menopause was a no-go area. Shrouded in a cloak of secrecy, often accompanied by it's partner in crime - shame.


Today, Mental Health and Menopause are some of the most talked about topics in the workplace. As they should be.


Here I am, right at that age that I honestly dreaded and feared. Middle-age. Menopause.


It's funny how often the thought of something we fear, is a lot worse than the actual reality. Not that I'm enjoying the changes I'm experiencing. But it's not as bad as I had feared.


There is one area of my life that feels quite changed however over recent years, which I find challenging. It's my friendship zone. This seems to be a common experience for many women around this time of life.


Friendships: key to a happy and healthy life


Good relationships are vital for our wellbeing. Science shows that this is in fact the main factor involved in living a long, happy and healthy life. Our younger years are spent forging friendships. Many friendships are made through shared experiences - whether it's school, university, work, travel, or being single together and going out. Some lasting friendships are made through becoming mothers at the same time.


Whatever the source of our friendships, there is often a sense of belonging, of having a "tribe" in our younger years. This is SO good for our overall health – physical and mental.


Changing circumstances Then, as circumstances change with time - whether that means through partnership, having in-laws and other family "obligations", moving away, having kids and the on-going parenting, ageing parents, financial struggles, less energy, health problems, not forgetting the pandemic ... the list goes on - our friendships don't form such an important part of our lives. There is just no space.


Depression, lack of confidence and isolation

Then, WHAM! Peri-menopause and menopause hit! Some of the most common symptoms include feeling anxious, depressed, lacking in confidence and even isolated. The paradox is that we need our female friendships now more than ever ! Yet we are often too busy with all the other stuff to prioritise getting together with our friends.

In my experience, it can be challenging to make real friendships around this age. On a personal level, my own circumstances have changed dramatically by becoming a mother. The fact that I was in my late 40’s may also play a part of my feelings of « missing friendships ». I do what I can to stay connected with my good friends, but solo motherhood and self-employment are pretty all consuming.


Whatever the reasons are for your own experience, you are definitely not alone.


There are a few things that may help you to nourish that sense of connection, resulting in improved mood, sleep, and overall wellbeing. Firstly, could you re-connect with an old friend, maybe someone who you've just lost touch with? Re-kindling an important friendship from the past may provide you with some sense of your more youthful self. You may be able to laugh about the fun times you used to share, and this can only be good. As a further step, could you be brave and share your own experience of peri-menopause or menopause with someone? Maybe a good friend, or even a work colleague. Maybe she is also experiencing something similar. Menopause is no longer shrouded in hush tones, and laced with a certain taboo.


Through sharing our own experiences, we build that sense of connection, which just makes us feel better. We know we are not alone.


A new tribe


Can you build a new "tribe"? There are many ways to do this. Whether it's finding your local sea-swimming group, or joining a choir. There's also some wonderful women's groups, both in-person or even online. Two in particular that I'd like to mention are: Gateway Women (for women navigating the grief of childlessness by circumstance, or not-by-choice), and Mari Kennedy's "Celtic Wheel" (a soulful, yet practical, on-line course for women full of celtic wisdom, and more).

Finally, you may have heard about the hormone oxytocin. Sometimes called the « love » hormone. We all need oxytocin to feel good. Another whammy during the peri-menopausal and menopausal years is that oxytocin levels are reduced.


When we connect with others, when we seek support, when we are listened to, when we feel the warmth of somebody’s care, friendship, or love, oxytocin is released.


Here’s a few of my favourite ways to help boost oxytocin - as well as a host of other feel-good chemicals.

  • Spending time with a good friend. If you are both too busy, be creative - get a walk in, or find just 30 minutes for a coffee, and a hug! If you can't make it in person, have a video call.

  • Speak with a professional coach, or psychotherapist, who will listen and support you, with compassion and empathy.

  • Move your body! Dance! Yoga! Movement ticks many feel-good boxes. I personally find both dance and yoga amazing for my mental health.

  • Treat yourself to a massage - touch is a powerful way to release oxytocin, as well as relieve tension and give yourself a boost.

  • Grab a mat, and try a Yoga class, or indeed anything that you will benefit from holistically. You're welcome to join one of my special Sunday mini-retreats, a beautiful, accessible blend of Yoga and Shiatsu, and more. Next one is Revive & Restore, in Greystones, Wicklow, on Sunday morning 24th March. Find out more here. Sending you special love this Women's Day. May this message perhaps be a signal to you, to take that one step to take care of the most important person in your life - YOU!


Kerry x

 

Kerry White is a Motherhood Clarity Coach, supporting women who are contemplating pursuing an alternative path to motherhood.


She is also a Workplace Wellbeing Facilitator, Speaker, Shiatsu Therapist and Yoga Teacher. Kerry is especially passionate about supporting women feel well on every level - physically, mentally, socially and spiritually.


Read more about Kerry here.

78 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page