We’ve spoken about depression and we’ve spoken about low self-esteem.
These are difficult aspects of the menopause and are important to highlight. But here’s something equally draining but not as commonly spoken about: feeling flat.
Sometimes it’s not an overwhelming sadness, or a racing mind and heart that takes all control. Sometimes, it’s just a lack of excitement, care and desire. It’s just a numb feeling where the things you used to look forward to don’t feel as interesting. You don’t want to take anti-depressants, since you know you’re not depressed. You just want life to go back to being a bit more exciting. But how?
First, it’s an absolute must to figure out whether it’s a temporary feeling or a deeper, more substantial lack of lust for life. That is, do you feel flat at the thought of doing something you’d normally love (but once you start doing it, you’re back to feeling excited), or do you constantly feel apathetic? If the thoughtof going to a nice dinner, seeing friends, having fish and chips, watching your favourite movie (and so on) doesn’t excite you, but you end up really enjoying your activities once you push yourself to do them, then remember: if you feel completely unenthusiastic about something before doing it, that feeling will pass once you do it. It’s not easy, but you’ve got to give it a go. You know you will enjoy it in the end, you’ve just got to get yourself there first. Never forget about the end result!
If, however, you find yourself feeling flat constantly, even when doing something you normally love doing, then the problem is a bit bigger. The good news is, there’s a few practical solutions. Little life changes like exercising more, eating healthy (vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and magnesium are especially important for this), and getting a regular sleep routinecan help keep your energy levels up and your mood a bit more balanced. These aren’t things that will completely solve the problem, but they’re an essential first step to help motivate you on a day-to-day basis. You don’t have to be excited about exercising, healthy eating, or a regular sleep routine – you’ve just got to push yourself to do these things as a starting point. Getting into the habit of these three things (and really, getting into the habit of anything) can absolutely help keep your brain switched on.
But what else is there to do? Realistically, it’s hard to get into the habit of regular exercise, healthy eating, and routine sleep. These three things are hard enough when you weren’t menopausal, and now when you have no energy, no motivation, no desire to do them is it most important to. While these are good starting points, there are other tips for fighting apathy:
- Remove the assumption
Don’t assume that this state of mind is how you’ll always be. Don’t assume that you’re just a lazy person now. Don’t assume you can’t change things. The better you understand that this is just the menopause and hormones taking over and the better you understand the triggers of apathy in your life, the better you’ll be able to conquer it.
- Try something new
Exercise, healthy food, and sleep are definitely important habits to keep a day to day routine going. But other than that? Break your routine. Adding something new into your life or doing something a bit different can help push the apathetic feelings out. It can be anything as small as walking home from work one day instead of taking the bus (which can count as exercise) to taking up a whole new hobby or starting a new activity once a week.
- Think small
You don’t need to completely change your life to regain your energy and sense of adventure. It can be overwhelming to have to look at your whole life and try to change it. Just take it day by day and moment by moment. When you’re feeling unmotivated, start there. Why do you feel this way? What do you think you can do about it just in that moment? Before you let the feeling sink in too deep, catch yourself. Even just thinking about one thing you’re grateful for, or one thing you’re looking forward to can help change your perspective.
- Be forceful
It may go without saying, but we’ll say it anyways: you’ll need to force yourself. No, you’re not going to want to do any of these things, that’s the whole point. You don’t feel like doing anything. But you need to remind yourself that this kind of apathetic state can really hold you back in life and can have consequences on your self esteem and wellbeing. If you’re feeling flat and are reading this article, maybe you’re hoping to find a solution, which is a good enough start. Wanting to do something about it is a good sign that you’ll be able to pull yourself out of this. You’ll need to be forceful and push yourself to take the next few steps.
Again, because feeling flat can really takeover your life, it’s not something to leave unaddressed. It might not seem like a harmful way of feeling, since you’re not overtly depressed and you’re not scarily anxious, but it has massive effects on your day to day life. If you aren’t at a place yet to push yourself to get out of this apathetic mindset, there is literally no shame in therapy. In fact, seeking therapy is something that should be celebrated. Choosing to put your mental health first is such a beautiful and strong thing to do. If these tips aren’t doing much for you, a professional therapist might be the most important step you take.
Overall, please don’t think that feeling flat is the new norm. The menopause will pass, and you’ll find your way again (in fact, many post-menopausal women find that they feel reborn after the menopause and have a completely new lease on life). Until then, you shouldn’t have to suffer in apathetic silence. You can find something that works for you, something that gets you up every day. It’ll take time and a bit of force (and maybe a bit of therapeutic help), but it’s achievable. Don’t give up!