Menopausal women are the quickest-growing demographic in the UK workforce. However, there’s a prominent lack of support for these ladies, with the many side effects of menopause not being recognised in the workplace.
As we enter Menopause Awareness Month, we wanted to raise awareness and provide a few helpful tips to show our support in improving the health and wellbeing of professional women dealing with menopause in the workplace.
If you’re a working woman, you might have to take matters into your own hands. Help us raise awareness, reduce your symptoms, and make the most of every working day with these seven helpful tips.
1. Speak up and normalise menopause
Different organisations have varying levels of menopause awareness. Whether or not yours is already offering some support, it’s important you speak out and raise awareness. This encourages an open, honest workplace that takes women’s hormonal changes seriously and shines a light on the problems faced.
If you’re concerned about a lack of support in your working environment, try to talk to a senior member of staff. This doesn’t have to include personal experience details if you’re uncomfortable sharing that information. Instead, simply address the topic and start asking how support could be made available for menopausal working women. Sometimes, speaking out about workplace needs is enough to catalyse change.
2. Understand your symptoms
Women can experience a wide range of different symptoms when going through menopause. By understanding your own, you can be better prepared to deal with them whilst working. Menopause can lead to:
- Hot flushes
- Mood swings
- Increased bleeding
- Trouble focusing
- Brain fog
In more severe cases (though not uncommon), menopause can cause anxiety and depression. If you feel your mental health is affected, be sure to seek professional treatment from your GP or consider checking into one of many UK centres for anxiety.
Once you have more information on the menopause symptoms you’re experiencing, you can better prepare for working life and educate those around you.
3. Alleviate your symptoms
Some menopause symptoms, like depression and increased bleeding, are harder to alleviate in the workplace. However, there are a number of side effects that you can try to control. Hot flushes, for instance, can be made easier by wearing light layers that you can remove throughout the day, and by keeping a hand-held fan in your desk.
It’s also a good idea to identify your trigger foods. Keep track of what you’re eating and drinking during the day, and what seems to exacerbate your symptoms. Common foods and drinks that worsen menopause include:
- Spicy foods
- Too much sugar
Exercise, drink plenty of water, and don’t skip your meals. You’d be surprised just how much a healthy lifestyle can improve your well-being!
4. Create a wellbeing plan
Menopause can take a big hit on your physical and mental wellness. Your body is going through a whole lot of changes, and you’re going to feel that. Creating a wellbeing plan is a way to keep some of the symptoms at bay and put in place working coping mechanisms.
Your wellbeing plan should be based on the issues you’re facing. For example, if you’re aware that night sweats are interrupting your sleep and you’re likely to be tired during the day, let your manager know you may need to go home during lunch breaks to nap. Create a sleeping routine, too, that may improve your rest, and keep a fan by your bed to bring your temperature down.
Ensure your wellbeing plan encourages exercise and a healthy diet, both of which are excellent for reducing the side-effects of menopause and helping you work better. In particular, increase your intake of foods containing:
- Vitamin D
Self-care is another excellent way to get you through your workday. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga can all help reduce stress and control mood changes.
Join a menopause group for support
There are lots of menopause groups popping up online and in local communities. Join with other women going through menopause, share your struggles and help each other out with tips. When you’re struggling at work, you’ll have people to turn to who understand. Sometimes, a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear are enough to get you through the day!
Don’t joke about menopause
Joking about menopause might feel like the easiest way to bring it up in your workplace. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, humour acts as an ice-breaker that can make you feel less tense. However, it’s vital that you don’t joke about menopause. If you do make light of the situation, others around you may not take it seriously or address your concerns. Rather than using humor to bring up the topic, calm your nerves by:
- Making notes of what you want to say
- Asking your support group for tips
- Speaking to someone you trust
Speak to a medical professional
Menopause often isn’t given the attention it deserves, particularly in the workplace. But, the symptoms can be extremely debilitating, with some women retiring early because their work environment doesn’t accommodate their needs. If you’re struggling, be sure to seek advice from a medical professional. They can give you ways to deal with your side effects and advise you on how to address it in the workplace.
Menopause in the workplace needs more attention than it’s currently getting. But, whilst momentum builds to improve support and rights, these tips should help you get through the day as a working woman. Remember, speak up, raise awareness, and drive change!
Check out our dedicated menopause page for support here.
About the author
Gemma Williams is an independent HR professional working remotely from as many coffee shops as she can find. Gemma has gained experience in several HR roles but now turns her focus towards growing her personal brand and connecting with leading experts in career development and employee engagement. Connect with her on Twitter: @GemmaWilliamsHR