Women's wellbeing has been on my mind even more than usual lately.
I guess it's not surprising after my recent six-week stint of caregiving for my parents, quickly followed by my husband's surgery.
Since then, I've been re-examining my choices and questioning:
What does wellbeing look like in the second half of my life?
How can I protect it, especially during the inevitable hard times?
What will it take to feel even more at home in myself and at ease in the world?
I don't have all the answers, but I do know three things for sure:
- I want to stay connected to my true self and zest for life as I go. Because that's where my power to make a difference in the world resides.
- I want to rewrite the harmful narratives of invisibility and decline we've been taught about aging as a woman.
- I want my bold wellbeing to contribute to the rise of all women. Because I've had a mindset shift in recent years. My wellbeing and self-actualization aren't just about me anymore — they're about all of us.
So I'm always doing research, sifting through the noise to find the most meaningful advice for women's wellbeing in midlife and beyond.
This week, I intend to help us better define what wellbeing means and provide general guidance on nurturing it.
First, here are a couple of things to remember.
The path to wellbeing is not one-size-fits-all. We all have unique journeys, experiences, and challenges that shape our lives. Our biology, personality, and environment determine what wellbeing means to us individually.
So I encourage you to regard your approach to wellbeing as highly personal.
I also encourage you to contemplate the overall wellness of your entire being. Although physical health and menopause management are foundational, there's a lot more to consider.
Let's dive in.
Your Physical Health
Understand your body, your menopause symptoms (if bothersome), and your medical history. Choose to prioritize your physical health.
- Get educated about your options for menopause symptom relief. Then, if needed, ask your doctor for a "menopausal hormone consultation," separate from your usual check-up.
- Engage in regular exercise that brings you joy, whether it's dancing, hiking, or practicing yoga. Incorporate strength training to slow down bone and muscle loss.
- Create a sanctuary for rejuvenation and embrace restful sleep.
Your nutrition is intricately linked to your physical health. Take steps to nourish your body from within.
- Focus on wholesome foods that fuel your energy and vitality. Seek a balanced diet that includes a variety of colorful fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
- Consider drastically reducing or eliminating alcohol. It has no nutritional value and worsens hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and anxiety. The World Health Organization recently published a statement that no amount of alcohol consumption is safe.
- Consider intermittent fasting — eating within 8 hours and fasting for 16 hours a day. This way of eating has enormous benefits for women in terms of hormone balance, metabolism, and lowering inflammation.
- Listen to your body's signals and develop a healthy relationship with food. Embrace mindful eating, savor each bite, and banish guilt or shame from your plate. After all, food should be a source of joy, pleasure, and connection.
Your Emotional Wellness
Emotional wellness is the understanding, acceptance, and regulation of the full range of your feelings. Be brave in exploring, honoring, and regulating your emotions.
Declining estrogen levels can make you feel like you're in a constant state of PMS.
Plus, kids leaving home, caring for elderly parents, and feelings of emptiness can get you down. Not to mention living through a pandemic. What an emotional roller coaster ride the second half can be!
- Allow yourself to feel deeply without judgment.
- Try to hold your complex emotions and thoughts loosely, face them with courage and self-compassion, and move beyond them to ignite positive change in your life.
- To navigate life's twists and turns, cultivate self-calming practices such as journaling, meditation, yoga, or rhythmic breathing.
Spirituality is about our connection to something bigger than ourselves. It relates to our sense of life-meaning and purpose. It's deeply personal and can mean something different to everyone.
Embrace practices that nurture your spirit.
- Spiritual practices can include meditation, prayer, nature walks, or engaging in creative endeavors.
- Allow yourself plenty of time for quiet solitude and introspection to connect with the essence of who you are.
- Reflect on what resonates with your soul and pursue it wholeheartedly.
- Develop a set of meaningful core values and use them to guide your actions.
Your Intellectual Wellness
Intellectual health is about stimulating and expanding your mind. Challenging yourself to acquire new skills and knowledge maximizes your overall wellbeing. Explore topics and experiences that ignite your curiosity.
- Choose different ways to keep your mind sharp. Look into brain games and puzzles, or academic efforts.
- Engage in stimulating conversations that challenge your existing beliefs. Through respectful dialogue, you can broaden your understanding of the world, discover new insights, and cultivate a deeper appreciation for different ideas.
- When our minds are intellectually stimulated and nourished, we are more likely to think critically, explore new ideas, and approach problems from different perspectives.
- In this way, we can unleash the full potential of our creativity, paving the way for originality, invention, and the manifestation of our unique artistic expressions.
Your Social Connections
Our wellbeing flourishes when we foster meaningful connections. Dare to step outside your comfort zone and cultivate varied relationships.
- Seek out communities that align with your values and interests, where you can share experiences and grow together.
- Surround yourself with supportive, uplifting relationships that encourage authenticity and emotional honesty.
- Be bold in setting boundaries to protect your energy and prioritize relationships that uplift you. You deserve to be surrounded by people who celebrate and cherish your uniqueness.
Your Work and Right Livelihood
Right Livelihood is a Buddhist term. It views work as something beautiful and valuable, where people come together to make a meaningful contribution to the world.
This becomes even more important to us in the second half of life. It's crucial, if at all possible, to pursue work that fits your gifts.
- If you don't feel fulfilled in your work, take time to reflect on your passions, interests, and skills. Consider what might bring you joy and fulfillment.
- Then, think about how you can align your work with these aspects of yourself. Explore different industries and career paths that resonate with your values and aspirations.
- Don't be afraid to make a career change. Midlife is ideal for reassessing your professional path and exploring new possibilities.
- Consider the option of entrepreneurship. If you have a desire to create something of your own or pursue a business idea, midlife can be an excellent time to embark on an entrepreneurial journey.
- Embrace the concept of Right Livelihood beyond work. Seek opportunities to make meaningful contributions to your community, engage in volunteer work, or take part in causes that align with your values.
Your Financial Fitness
Financial fitness isn't just about money; it's about having the freedom and confidence to live life on your own terms.
Unfortunately, many women abdicate financial decisions to their partners. The consequences lead many women to struggle after divorce or the death of their spouses.
It's empowering to be in charge of your own money. Take steps toward financial literacy, independence, and security.
- Educate yourself about personal finance, create a budget, reduce debt, and set financial goals. If needed, initiate tough money conversations with your partner.
- Seek professional advice to make informed decisions about investments and savings.
- Advocate for fair compensation and equal opportunities for women.
The physical surroundings where you live, work, and spend your leisure time significantly impact your mood and sense of wellbeing.
Make choices that protect and preserve your environment and our beautiful planet.
- Maintain a clean, organized living space with plenty of natural light and fresh air.
- Set up your workspace in a manner that is more efficient and comfortable.
- Surround yourself with meaningful and inspiring objects, such as artwork or photographs of loved ones.
- Spend a minimum of two hours a week out in nature.
- Reduce your carbon footprint by embracing sustainable practices in your daily life. Engage in recycling, conserve energy and water, and support eco-friendly initiatives.
You have the power to define and uphold your own version of wellbeing. Don't be afraid to step outside of societal expectations and norms.
Be bold in your choices and decisions, knowing your personal journey is unique, and you are worthy of every good thing life has to offer.
Your commitment to self-care and wellbeing sends out ripples of empowerment, reminding those around you to focus on their own needs and embrace their unique paths.
Let's keep growing in wellness on behalf of all women.
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