Coping with work during menopause
Work can become more challenging when you are experiencing menopause symptoms. Most of your colleagues, especially younger colleagues, will have no idea how you are feeling and what you are going through. Here are some tips on how to cope and make it through the work day.
Brain Fog makes it difficult to concentrate
What we call ‘brain fog’ comes from nowhere and can be a big challenge at work when you are trying to concentrate on the task at hand. Some of us are better in the mornings, others can’t think straight until after 10am. It can be a battle to work through the exhaustion and continue after it’s gone black outside and you just want to go home. So, try and be as productive as possible when you are feeling most clear headed and try not to stress about lack of productivity at other times.
Prioritise the big stuff, and try not to sweat the small stuff.
Know that the enhanced panic and worry or anxiety that you may be feeling at work is not you, it’s the menopause
We are good, kind, lovely, and we are loved, valued and appreciated. Think of Michelle Obama who spent years suffering ‘The Imposter Syndrome’. Most of us worry endlessly about being fired, about stupid tiny things that never bothered us before. Try and find your own coping mechanisms but ones that involve good food, hydration, exercise, fresh air, not alcohol and chocolate. If it helps, write things down, or talk to a good friend in the same situation. ‘Get it out’ and you’ll feel better.
Now to the weeping
Yes, we all weep. A lot. We weep because a dog on Facebook is wearing a poncho, we weep because a cute kid is smiling at their mother in an advert. But weeping in front of your boss? That’s a whole new ball game which never would have happened before the menopause.
If you start to feel weepy, try to leave the room and escape to the loo. If your boss or a colleague criticises you, or your work, and you combust into sobbing, don’t feel bad. Just try and gather yourself away from the situation if you can, as soon as you can. Try and explain, if not, call that friend when you get home and she’ll tell you it’s normal. Don’t beat yourself up. Just know it happens and you are not alone. Just make sure you have a good waterproof mascara, and tissues in every pocket. And don’t let it beat your motivation away, it will come back. The next time you feel energetic smash it. Beat it away.
Dealing with the ‘rage’
If you feel the rage building up inside you, try not to snap at your colleagues. Walk away or stop and take a drink of water (but don’t throw the water). This is probably the hardest one for most of us but it’s the most difficult one for our colleagues too. Find your own way to deal with it and adopt that. But if you do snap, apologise as soon as you can and explain, if you can.
It’s important to tell someone at work how you are feeling
Whether that’s HR, your boss, your team if you can – to ask for support and understanding and explain your symptoms. Try asking for flexible working hours or work from home days so you can work around those days you just can’t do it, without letting anyone down. These days most bosses actively encourage working from home – some companies even only have remote working. Your cat/dog will love you too.
Write down the Big Things that affect you at work, and try and write down ways to cope with them. And find a friend – both in work and out of work – that you can talk to.