We don’t talk enough about menopause, and I believe it’s because it only impacts half of the population. While we’ll talk about it amongst ourselves, the impact of menopause on our mental and physical well-being not only effects how we live our lives, but also how we manage our careers.
Menopause usually occurs between 45 and 55, which is a critical stage of our careers. In fact, it's when we’re most likely to be in leadership roles. I was 46 when my body kicked into menopause and I happened to be in an executive leadership role at that time. I wasn’t prepared for the depths of my mood swings, forgetfulness and the night sweats that interrupted my sleep pattern. There were days I didn't want to get out of bed, days when my colleagues had to tip-toe around me, and days when I had to speak through my sudden outburst of tears in meetings.
Yep, the struggle is real.
While we all experience “the change” in different ways, most women will experience some level of depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation, hair loss, changes in skin and cognitive impairment. Frankly, that’s a lot to deal with when you’re trying to focus on career goals and advancement.
In fact, an Australian study showed that there was a strong link between the severity of symptoms and reduced engagement and satisfaction with work, as well as a higher intention to quit work.
This is doubly worse when you're already not happy with your job/career, working with a difficult boss or co-workers, or doing work that's unfulfilling and not meaningful to you. These factors can aggravate symptoms of menopause, contributing to greater levels of stress and anxiety, and even exacerbating the imposter syndrome (if you're already suffering from that).
Menopause also can severely influence your confidence and how you show up in the world. It’s often the time when our wardrobes shifts from stylishly fabulous to predominately comfortable. We switch our skirts, dresses and skinny jeans for leggings and oversized tops. Hot flashes, inexplicable weight gain, and general malaise definitely presents "wardrobe" challenges and does not inspire women to make a fashion statement.
Regardless of the face menopause takes on for you, don’t ignore it, underestimate it, or disregard it. Seek support to manage it effectively, boldly carry your little fan around with you, and let people know to expect a few changes. After all, you shouldn't have to go through this alone.
Live, laugh and unapologetically shine!