Fatigue is a common symptom of the menopause years and can be due to a number of reasons. This lack of energy can be crushing at times, having a negative effect on our physical and emotional well-being and health.
Certainly fatigue was one of the main symptoms I experienced during peri-menopause, on a few occasions I crashed in the afternoon and missed picking the children up from school. Reporting being TATT (Tired All The Time) to my doctors, having my thyroid hormone and iron levels tested to determine an underlying cause didn’t give a reason for the problem.
I must add here that I was in my 30’s when menopause symptoms started and had no idea what was happening to my body and mind, and I was desperately worried, this fatigue and other symptoms were affecting all areas of my life.
Now I understand it more, and have an abundance of energy. Let me share with you some facts, and how you too can overcome menopausal fatigue.
Firstly, everyone is so different, there is no single answer to this question, but here are some things for you to consider:
Hormones: Of course, fluctuating hormone levels are contributing yet again to this symptom, albeit in a more indirect way. The roller-coaster of hormones can lead to night sweats, joint pain, brain fog and increased anxiety and stress, amongst others, all of which lead to increased fatigue throughout the day.
Stress: ‘Life’! Managing mid-life brings its own stress, children growing up, leaving home; parents ageing and maybe needing more care; finances; relationships; work; personal health AND menopause all contribute to increased stress. Keeping all the plates spinning can add to the exhaustion.
Diet: A diet low in nutrients adds to the fatigue, your cell batteries are simply not being given the fuel they need to fire on all cylinders. And when stressed or fatigued it’s so easy to reach out for foods that don’t serve you nutritionally, sugars, refined carbohydrates, caffeine and alcohol. Poor hydration contributes too.
Exercise: Here it can be a vicious cycle. Fatigue leads to lack of motivation leads to no exercise leading to greater fatigue.
Other Health Conditions: As we age low thyroid function and iron levels can also cause similar symptoms of fatigue. Also heavy periods and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. If you’re constantly feeling tired despite a good night’s sleep your GP can do tests to check for any underlying health conditions.
Fortunately there are some lifestyle changes you can make to help you with the fatigue. They may take a little time to show effect, and you may have to embrace a number of them to get the results you require, but they are definitely worth the effort to enable you to start living the vibrant life you want to again.
Regular exercise: Exercise is proven to be one of the best solutions for fatigue, and can definitely help reduce the severity and frequency of menopause symptoms including hot flushes, promote more restful sleep and also boost mood. But that alone may not be enough to compel you to get out of bed to go to BootCamp, or sweat it out in a gym, nor do you have to do either.
Simple moderate to high intensity exercise in a form you ENJOY and is manageable is the way to go to ensure you create and maintain a new habit.
For example, walk more, get your heart beat raised when you can, practice yoga for flexibility and release pent up tension in the body. Dance! There are many YouTube videos with great music to get you up on your feet having fun.
Diet: Eat a healthy diet, full of an abundance of colourful foods provided by Nature which are bursting with energy boosting nutrients. Ensure you have some protein with every meal, and ensure plenty of fibre to ensure your bowels move daily and easily. Allowing for flow and movement within the body. And of course avoid the energy sapping refined sugars, carbohydrates, caffeine and alcohol. They may give you an immediate short term busrt of energy, but wont serve you long term.
Also downsize your meals , eat smaller portions as a large meal can make you feel sluggish and less inclined to exercise. And don’t eat too close to bedtime, ideally have your last meal of the day 3-4 hours prior to retiring so digestion doesn’t interfere with your ability for restful sleep.
Sleep: It’s suggested that between seven and a half hours and nine hours are needed to function properly during the day, a dream for so many through menopause, practicing good sleep hygiene can help. Going to bed and rising in the morning at the same times every day, even if you don’t feel like it, really helps to establish a sleep routine that leaves you feeling much more energised. Taking a warm shower or relaxing Epsom Salts bath before bed, keeping the room dark, turning off all electrical equipment, keeping the bedroom cool all help.
Nap: It’s not a practice to be dismissed! Nap if you feel you need it and it’s appropriate to do so, but please do keep any napping before 2pm in the afternoon, especially if you’re not sleeping well at night.
Relax: Stress can sap your energy and interrupt your sleep. There are a wide range of ways to reduce your stress response, all of which will have huge benefits to your body and mind, even the way you live your life. So I highly encourage you to explore them, find ways to incorporate a 10 minute or more stress busting practice into your daily life.
For example yoga, tai chi (lots of YouTube videos to follow), walk in the woods, in the hills, beside the water for the benefit of negative ions, immerse yourself in your favourite activities/hobby, pamper yourself. Mindfulness meditation is also really powerful and oh so easy to practice, here’s a lovely 3 minute audio to help you on your way.
Hydrate: You’ll find this message on all my recommendations to help manage menopause symptoms, and I’ll continue to share it as being adequately hydrated is truly one of the foundation stones for hormones balance and creating optimum health.
When you’re dehydrated your body has to work so much harder to perform even the simplest of its daily tasks leading to greater fatigue. Your stress response will be heightened, brain fog and poor concentration becomes more obvious, hot flushes and other symptoms may be more severe and frequent too.
2 litres minimum of pure clean water a day, drunk throughout the day with the exception of a LARGE glass of body or room temperature water with a slice of lemon in the morning to kick start your day.
Reduce caffeine, alcohol, sugars: Caffeine, alcohol and refined sugars contribute towards fluctuating energy levels throughout the day and interfere with the ability to have restful sleep. They give an immediate high, which is why you feel you NEED them to get through the day? But they also lead to an inevitable subsequent crash leaving you more drained than before. So what do you do? You reach for another fix and now a sabotaging habit has been established. Keeping a diary of your caffeine, alcohol and sugar intake can help you follow your unique patter, and I recommend you reduce the intake of all to a level that promotes consistent energy throughout the day, not robs you of it.
Learn to say NO! The hardest lesson to learn for so many. As women we can tend to feel guilty saying no to others, we keep those plates spinning for everyone else, when ours may be crashing to the floor. Yet we still prioritise others needs above our own, always doing too much.
Set your boundaries, be realistic, be kind to yourself. The hardest part of saying “no” is always the first time, when others may look at you with shock as their expectations aren’t being met. It’s now time to meet your own expectations to allow you to live a vibrant and full life.
Supplements: Two supplements that can help you boost energy are magnesium and CoQ10. Magnesium, found in green leafy vegetables, feeds the energy factories within our cells, sadly our soils are depleted of this vital mineral so a supplement can be helpful for fatigue and restful sleep. Also, magnesium deficiency symptoms can so easily be confused with menopause symptoms, so you may notice other benefits too.
CoQ10 (coEnzymeQ10) is a nutrient that occurs naturally in the body. It’s an antioxidant that protects cells and has an important role in metabolism. Sadly it depletes 60% as we age, so a boost can be really helpful for maintaining energy levels and other health conditions too.
It’s available in a range of foods, but insufficient to counteract the natural decline as we age.
Organ meats (liver, kidneys, heart) oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout, tuna, pilchards, sardines), legumes, nits & seeds and some vegetables.
Vitamin D deficiency can also contribute towards fatigue, and in the UK levels can fall low between the months of October and May when the sun isn’t high in the sky. Again, Vitamin D deficiency symptoms can also be confused with some menopause symptoms, so taking a maintenance dose throughout those months can really help.
Two herbal remedies that can help with fatigue are valerian and black cohosh.
I think that’s enough to be going on with! Do persevere exploring the potential solutions to boosting your energy through what can be challenging menopause years.
Helping busy ladies naturally create harmony and health through the menopause years and beyond. Regain control, confidence, and be free to live the life they choose.
A full hysterectomy in her 30’s led nutritional therapist and health coach Clare on an amazing adventure exploring the many opportunities available to manage her enforced menopause and create long-term health.
Clare prefers the natural approach, and qualifying in nutritional therapy gave her the confidence to come off HRT, take back control of her life and health, and look forward to living the best third of her life free of prescription drugs. Understanding the importance of creating harmony of health of both body and mind through menopause and beyond, she’s now on a mission to inspire, educate and empower other women, too. Help them create their ‘new life’.
Click HERE to find out more about how Clare shares her years of exploring, experience and knowledge through 1:1 consultations, speaking and online programmes, and where you can request a FREE 30 minute consultation with Clare to discuss any personal menopause/health concerns you may have.
Registered Nutritional Therapist
Member of the British Menopause Society
Award winning Menopause Coach & Educator