As we head into World Menopause Month, for the second year in a row (having just learned about it last year), I’m reflecting on why it’s important and what it means to me.
You know from my previous blog posts that I’ve been trying a few different things to help ease my perimenopausal symptoms. From seed cycling to intermittent fasting…to a few other things I’ve been meaning to blog about, but haven’t…I’ve been dabbling (flitting, really) among an array of non-pharmaceutical approaches.
Well, now I’m trying daily (sort of) meditation. Not necessarily because I wanted to or because I’m oh so enlightened. Really, it was in direct response to a ‘stage 2 hypertension’ reading that pretty much scared me straight, and validated my concern that the stress-related eye twitch I’d been experiencing the previous two weeks was, indeed, my blood pressure screaming to get my attention. “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!!!”
The realization that I could stroke out at 46 years old if I didn’t get control of the situation, spurred me to immediate action, and I began a very diligent, if not earnest, 12-day streak of self-care that included:
- Practicing Mindfulness – 10-minute guided meditation and deep breathing exercises;
- Aerobic Exercise – Breaking a sweat by getting my heart rate up through exercise (whether walking the neighborhood in the new ‘bob-and-weave, put up your mask’ method inspired by COVID, or jumping around my bedroom to aerobics on-demand);
- Managing Food Intake – Resuming intermittent fasting on a 16:8 cycle drinking 8-12 8oz. bottles of water a day
- Limiting Alcohol Intake – Reducing daily COVID shot of Tequila (don’t judge) to 2x/week
While I’ve stuck with the intermittent fasting, water intake and limitation of alcohol (REALLY!), I’ve wavered on the daily meditation and exercise, and have not yet been able to get back on a consistent track. I also started virtual therapy to talk some of this stuff out, because the stress and strain of being a Black woman and mother in America is TAKING ITS TOLL.
If you spend any amount of time on social media following issues important to women, you already know that we’re showered with motivational and reassuring self-care memes, .gifs and influencer quotes…Every. Single. Day. And while I appreciate all of the empowerment championing and validating that’s being put out in these posts (honestly, my iPhone is filled with them), I’ve come to realize that “self-care” and loving oneself properly is tough work. Especially if you have inclinations that lean toward self-indulgence, and deeply resent the deprivation of gluttony and bad habits that discipline and mature boundaries represent.
But I suppose that’s where the reality of adulting (I am middle-aged, after all), and a healthy dose of self-awareness kick in… What do I expect to change if I don’t make — but more importantly – commit, to the effort? Even so, when I think about what self-care means to me and the healthy longevity I envision for myself, I become a bit overwhelmed, because it’s A LOT.
- Stretching EVERYDAY
- Seed Cycling EVERYDAY
- 10-minute Meditation EVERYDAY
- Taking a Multi-vitamin EVERYDAY
- Intermittent fasting EVERYDAY (which means black coffee EVERYDAY)
- Exercising EVERYDAY
- Limiting my sugar intake EVERYDAY
- Eating a balanced diet EVERYDAY (a cheat day here and there to be expected, of course)
- Always making sure that I’m as attentive to my mental and emotional well-being as I am my physical health.
And so it goes, my reluctant realization that self-care isn’t a series of nice and healthy things to try every once in a while, it’s in fact, a lifestyle. I know it can be done…and I know a lot of women who have the personal wherewithal to take this ‘lifestyle change challenge’ head-on. But I prefer to eat my elephant one bite at a time and have decided to recognize World Menopause Month as an opportunity to commit to a plan of self-care that pushes me beyond my comfort zone (even on really bad days), but doesn’t set me up for failure.
So, what are my personal goals for World Menopause Month???
- Meditate for 31 consecutive days
- Recommit to seed cycling (the acne and chin whiskers have come back with a vengeance)
- Continue with intermittent fasting (16:8 makes the body feel great!)
- Aerobic exercise five days a week
- Keep a daily log to hold myself accountable
- Stick with virtual therapy until…
Last, but not least, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”
However YOU define self-care for yourself, do it with all the encouragement, loving kindness and support that the memes are meant to inspire. – XOXO