Menopause – Struggling At Work?
Menopause can be a huge problem at work, and whether you’re employed or working for yourself, some symptoms can lead to you struggling at work. Let’s take a look at how menopause affects our performance at work, and what we can do about it.
What is menopause?
Menopause in a nutshell, is the end of the transition out of our childbearing phase of life. It marks the 1 year anniversary of the end of the last period, and the start of our elder phase.
The lead up to menopause is known as peri-menopause, and it can last anwhere between 2 and 10 years. Every woman experiences peri-menopause in their own way; some experience severe, debilitating symptoms, others barely notice and the rest of us fall somewhere in between.
Symptoms of menopause can include fatigue, migraines, aches & pains, brain fog, mood swings and heavy bleeding. All can make work really difficult in various ways. Whatever your experience, it’s important to know where to find help and support if you need it.
How menopause affects work
I’ve lost count of the number of ladies I’ve worked with over the years who’ve closed their business, or given up a career they loved because their menopause symptoms made it impossible to carry on. Brain fog is perhaps one of the most common reasons why this can happen, as it can make even very simple, familiar tasks very difficult. It’s frightening and embarrassing too! Understandably many women feel that their brain fog is a sign of permanent decline, and lose confidence in their ability to do their job. Talking to a manager about it can be really difficult, even if you do have a good relationship with them, because there are worries that they might not think you capable of carrying on in that role. It’s a particular problem in jobs like nursing and the emergency services where even small mistakes can be disastrous.
Does menopause make you unhappy at work?
Not necessarily. What it can do is make you less tolerant of situations in general, and that’s partly down to the hormone changes. Oestrogen makes us very kind, patient and tolerant because those are exactly the qualities we need to nurture a young family. It’s nature’s way of helping us to cope with parenthood, and love our children even through the most testing times.
But as oestrogen levels decline, our patience, kindness and tolerance can also start to wain. What used to be ok isn’t any more, and if you’ve been vaguely unhappy in your job for a while, peri-menopause can tip you over the edge. It’s not at all unusual for a woman to have a complete career change around this time, even if it means a drop in pay, because enjoying work becomes all the more important.
What to do about menopause problems at work
Firstly, find out if there’s any provision already in place to support you. If you feel comfortable talking to your line manager, you could ask them, otherwise your HR or occupational health team should be able to help. There might be a menopause support group, or you could consider starting one if not.
Your employer should be willing to make reasonable adjustments, like providing a desk fan if you have hot flushes, or a notepad if you need to write things down. Some women with heavy bleeding arrange to work from home on those days too.
Some companies and organisations are able to offer uniform made from cooler, more natural fabrics for women struggling with hot flushes.
If you’re self employed, you should be able to claim for any new equipment, and some forms of treatment as a business expense but ask your accountant if you’re unsure.
There may be an Employee Assistance Programme where you can access services like counselling if you need it.
If you’re unable to work at all for a period of time due to your menopause symptoms, make sure you mention what’s going on in your return to work interview, and discuss what can be done to help.
Natural remedies for menopause at work
There are some great first-aid remedies you can use to manage hot flushes, brain fog and mood swings at work. Here are a few of my favourites:
- Facial Mists – perfect for spritzing your face whenever you’re having a ‘power surge’ and if you can keep it in the fridge, it’s even better! Otherwise, keep it in the fridge at home, and use an insulated baby bottle pouch to keep it cool whilst you’re out and about.
- Focus Essential Oil Blend This is brilliant for brain fog, and you can either infuse it in the room you’re working in, or use a nasal inhaler and keep it in your bag with you. If you’d just like a Focus aromastick without having to buy a whole bottle of essential oil, please contact me.
- Women’s Balance Roll on Remedy I use this oil a lot with my patients, it is a lovely way to help yourself calm down quickly using aromatherapy. The essential oils are already in a carrier oil, so you can roll them onto your pulse points, and get the aromas at the same time.
- Calming Herbal Tea . This one contains all my favourite calming herbs, along with some liquorice to support your adrenal glands in coping with stress. Use two teabags per mugful to get a medicinal strength tea, and make sure it’s covered whilst it’s brewing for 5 minutes before you drink it.
If your menopause symptoms are really affecting your performance to the point where you’re worried about it, there are lots of options available for you here. Take a look at the Menopause Rescue, and Menopause Hypnotherapy pages, or book a free call to explore what would work best for you.
Where to get more help with menopause at work
There are lots of companies like ‘Talking Menopause’ which can go to your workplace and work with your employer to get better support in place. Your company might already have menopause champions you can speak to, or be open to you training as a menopause champion yourself. Your HR or Occupational Health Department should be able to tell you what’s available if you don’t feel comfortable speaking to your line manager.
If you’re self employed, or work within a smaller company, you might prefer a slightly different approach. I offer monthly online menopause cafes, where you can join me at lunchtime on the 2nd Tuesday of each month. You can find out more about those here.
If there are a few of you all experiencing similar problems, you’re entitled to a group discount off my Rejuven8 home learning programme, and work through it together. Just contact me to arrange a discount code.