Wellbeing Practitioner and menopausal 50 something Harriet Sneath unravels how the menopause affects women in the workplace and discovers how the 5 Ways to Wellbeing can minimise the impact of this sometimes challenging stage of life.
Menopause. Perimenopause. These seemingly innocent words often conjure up feelings of anxiety and dread in millions of middle-aged women all over the world. Menopause is still seen as a taboo subject in many parts of society - Some women may luck out with mild symptoms but for others, the world of work, family, and life in general can become an increasingly tricky place to navigate as confidence levels plummet, body temperatures soar and forgetfulness reigns supreme. Research carried out by menopausesupport.co.uk found some concerning statistics:
· For some, symptoms can last for up to 15 years
· More than 60% of women experienced symptoms that resulted in behavioural changes
· 1 in 4 had ‘debilitating’ symptoms
· 33% said their anxiety levels soared
· Just under 50% reported feeling depressed
· 1 in 5 had to take time off to manage symptoms
· 1 in 10 said they considered quitting their job during this time
Menopausal women are the fastest growing workforce demographic in the UK (wellbeingofwomen.org.uk) so we’re not talking about a small minority, but nearly half of the population. When an employee is pregnant, employment law dictates that there are systems in place for managing the process but there is nothing remotely similar for the menopause. However, as menopausal symptoms can vary so much from woman to woman, there is no one size fits all solution.
So, how can the good Wellbeing practices be utilised to minimise the impact of the menopause on so many women’s lives and careers?
I admit, some days, I feel utterly lost, without purpose or motivation and overly anxious with no idea why; so I scratch it up to menopause but those feelings still require managing – this is where The 5 Ways to Wellbeing come in (Connect, Keep Learning, Stay Active, Give and Take Notice) and are an absolute MUST for enhancing my life and managing my symptoms. Speaking from 3 years’ experience as a perimenopausal woman and a Wellbeing Practitioner at The WoWW Business, my Top 5 Tips for Menopausal Wellbeing are:
1. Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t go to plan – always talk to yourself as if you are talking to a loved one.
2. Recognise when you are feeling out of sorts and ask yourself what would help? It may be a good chat with a friend or writing down what’s bothering you - this helps to get rid of any spiralling negative thoughts you may be having.
3. Eat well. Have you noticed how much more manageable life is when you’re well nourished? You’ll find you have more energy and feel more positive when your body is running on the correct fuel. Be sure to drink plenty of water too.
4. Be active. A brisk 15-minute walk can clear away negative thoughts and invigorate your body. Being mindful of your surroundings can help put worries into perspective.
5. Practice gratitude. Write down three things you are grateful for at the end of each day. In 2017, researcher Chih-Che Lin found that the daily practice of gratitude had a positive impact on psychological wellbeing, self-esteem and depression. The evidence shows that noticing what we already have can make us feel more positive.
If you are a Line Manager and the mere mention of menopause fills you with dread, there are some basic facts to remember and simple steps you can take to ensure your menopausal employees feel supported with a good sense of belonging. Here’s just a few:
· Menopause should carry no stigma or shame
· It should be discussed openly
· Women make up nearly half the UK workforce
· Nearly 900,000 women quit their jobs in 2019 due to menopausal symptoms
· Middle-aged women are often at the top of their game – keep them there!
· Adopt an attitude of ‘Ok, I understand, how can we help?’
· Take your lead from the employee when they bring it up
· Hold regular informal 1-2-1 meetings with all employees
· Update sickness policies to include menopausal symptoms
· Allow flexible working; this may alleviate the number of sick days taken
By removing the taboo label and allowing the channels of communication to flow freely on the subject of menopause in the workplace, employers will find that their female-employees-of-a-certain age are more likely to be open and honest when discussing their specific needs. They are more likely to feel valued, included and less anxious about their symptoms which in turn will positively impact your organisation’s productivity.
To find out more about how The WoWW Business can introduce Wellbeing as a way of life in your organisation, please contact us via our website.