Confidence, Self-Esteem and the Menopause

By Elisa Cottarelli | Team MM

Hot flushes, night sweats, aches, and pains; if you’ve had any experience with the menopause, these are symptoms that we don’t find surprising.

Even anxiety, depression, and mood swings are known to be symptoms of the menopause and are starting to become part of a larger conversation. But a quiet side effect of all these symptoms that can honestly be the hardest to deal with is the loss of confidence and self-esteem. Insecurity is a mouth that feeds itself, it builds and builds inside of you and can take over your life without you even realising it. Unlike some physical symptoms, it can’t easily be fixed with creams and medicines. It takes a ton of energy and effort to build your confidence back, which you might not feel like you have. But there are little things you need to remember when you’re feeling down about yourself.

Happiness is not a personality trait, it’s a mental state.

Firstly, and most importantly, don’t compare yourself to your younger self. It’s totally normal to feel like you’ve lost who you are because you’re not who you were. Where did the charming, bubbly woman who was full of life go? You might feel like you’ve completely changed, both mentally and physically, and that can be just as hard as saying goodbye to a loved one or a friend. But happiness is not a personality trait, it’s a mental state. Just because you don’t feel as energetic or upbeat as you did 20 years ago, it does NOT mean that you’ve lost yourself! And just because you can’t run as fast or throw as far, doesn’t mean you’re not someone to be proud of. There is so much you can do to get through your mental and physical symptoms and they absolutely don’t define you.

So what DOES define you? With so many changes going on, it’s hard to feel like yourself, or to get adjusted to a so-called ‘new you’. Look around you and look at your life: you’ve built a life for yourself, overcome countless challenges and accomplished so much. When you’re feeling at your lowest, don’t forget everything you’ve done and been through: there is SO much to be proud of. Yes, you may have forgotten to do the laundry and maybe you’ve left the milk out by accident. Your brain may slip up more now than it ever did but give yourself a break! That doesn’t take away from all the incredible moments and memories you have.

There’s no need to feel the pressure of the world to change. Beauty and fitness shouldn’t be stressful.

And it’s not just about not comparing yourself to your younger self, it’s also about not comparing yourself to the world around you. Our culture is obsessed with the young, and the pretty, and when you feel neither young, nor pretty, it can be hard to make it through the day full of confidence. It’s a nasty environment to be in: the world expects us to be successful, confident, caring, and happy, otherwise we’ll come off as shrill, bitter, and ultimately, unattractive. We’re expected to be thin, have smooth skin and a bright smile, because that’s what we see on TV. But we don’t have to conform to what the world wants or expects, we have enough going on. If you do choose to do something about your wrinkles, your weight, your teeth, your hair, and all the rest, then of course that’s fine! If it’s what YOU want and if it will make YOU feel more confident, go for it! But there’s no need to feel the pressure of the world to change. Beauty and fitness shouldn’t be stressful.

If you do want to do something to actively boost your self-esteem, there are a plethora of tips and tricks. Exercise and diet are the most important the things you can control to help you feel great about yourself day-to-day. It’s been said over and over again, but that’s because it’s true. And it’s not just the effects of boosting serotonin levels, losing weight, and getting the right nutrients. While exercise and diet definitely help you look your best, there’s so much more. Keeping a consistent workout schedule will keep your day organised and give you a task to check off your to-do list, which has been shown to make people feel happier by giving them a sense of achievement. And, you can feel proud that you’re taking care of yourself, your body, and your mind.

We live in a society that confuses being strong with being emotionless, but sometimes the strongest thing a person can do is to admit that they feel weak.

And there’s more! We can’t all be fitness gurus and sometimes we might sneak in an extra dessert as a midnight snack. Exercise and diet might be the most effective way to boost your confidence, but it’s also the hardest, and there are other things you can do to feel great. Change your style (layers are great, especially if you get hot flushes), change your hair (subtle dye to hide grey hairs), change your mind (go out instead of staying in), anything! If changing something about yourself or your life empowers you, then take action.

We live in a society that confuses being strong with being emotionless, but sometimes the strongest thing a person can do is to admit that they feel weak. Don’t be hard on yourself; it’s normal to feel lost and uncomfortable. Focus on empowering yourself in whatever way you can, by accepting yourself and the changes in your life and making changes when you feel it’s important to do so. It’s your journey and it’s your life: find your happiness, self-esteem and confidence in a healthy way and learn to let go of those voices in your head that are holding you back.