Nadine was almost in tears. She knew she was experiencing the hormonal changes of menopause, and had been coping pretty well for a few years. But recently she found herself unable to deal with even the normal daily frustrations of her job at a Christian school. She had previously been known as a skilled “peacemaker” when conflicts developed between parents, teachers, or students, but now she was more likely to become angry than be helpful.
Her marriage was starting to suffer as well. Her husband was trying to be understanding, but Nadine always seemed to be depressed, tired, angry, or distant. It had been many months since they had been able to have a relaxing evening together, and just talk.
Nadine was worried that something was not right between her and God. She had increased her prayer time, and had read some Bible study books about dealing with anger. She had spoken with her pastor’s wife who had prayed with her, but things didn’t seem to get any better. She felt frustrated and powerless, and struggled to not lose hope.
Nadine is a great example of how every part of your being impacts every other area. There are times you may not immediately understand what the root cause of your distress is; that may be why you’re reading this now. But menopause is one time when physical changes may lead to very real emotional and spiritual problems.
Some people in Christian circles seem to give the impression that if you are only spiritual enough, all other problems will take care of themselves. In one sense that may be true – as long as by “spiritual enough” you mean cooperating together with God in dealing with whatever issues you may be facing. Jesus never ignored physical needs. He experienced hunger, fatigue, and pain. Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap or get something to eat.
Emotional issues can often add to the distress of menopause as well. Some women begin to feel less physically desirable, which is especially difficult if your physical appearance has been a source of self-worth. You may now have an empty nest, and feel less needed as a mother. You may feel that you will not likely accomplish all you wanted to in this life: less of life is ahead of you than is behind you.
It’s no wonder that the physical, emotional, and spiritual pressures become heavy for many women to carry.
But there is hope! Here are some specific things you can do if you’re struggling with hormones that become especially important at this time of life.
If You’re Struggling with Hormones
- Get adequate rest and exercise. Mid-life can become overwhelmingly busy. You may be “managing” elderly parents, teen children, and career. But your body, mind, and spirit need appropriate rest now more than ever. For me, this means I can’t stay up all night the way I did during my medical training! And some studies show that many menopausal symptoms may improve with regular exercise.
- Eat a healthy, natural diet. Your mid-life metabolism probably cannot handle processed carbs and other processed foods without consequences, even if you could before. Focus on healthy protein, fruits, and vegetables even more.
- Consider supplements carefully. A general multi-vitamin may be helpful for some. I take JuicePlus, a natural food-based nutritional supplement that is like “fruits and vegetables in a capsule.” Some women find that a calcium/magnesium supplement may help, and St John’s Wort may help some with mild depression. Stay away from phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) unless you are under a doctor’s care: they may have health implications similar to prescription estrogens.
- Have a medical evaluation. Other causes of symptoms similar to menopause in some women include thyroid dysfunction or low vitamin D (and others), which can be easily tested for. Some women have dramatic improvement with low-dose natural hormone replacement, which many women can use safely.
- Stay spiritually fit. In your time with God focus on hearing His loving, guiding voice for yourself. If you face issues of fear, guilt, or forgiveness, let Him help you with those parts of your heart. Read the Bible stories about how God used men and women even into old age. Spend time with Him listening for the plan He still has for you.
Yes, it may be that you have lived more than half the years of your physical life on this earth already. But you’re not done yet! It’s not how many years of life you have left: it’s how much life you will pack into those years.
Nadine realized she had become completely exhausted – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. She took some steps to take better care of herself in several ways. She also chose to add a prescription medication to her regimen. In a few weeks she was feeling much better at work, she had had some special conversations with her husband, and she had a renewed sense of God’s presence in her life.
And for you, I believe the best is yet to come.
And even better, God’s not finished with you yet. Treat yourself gently. And keep on living.
Your turn: What are the specific difficulties you are having with hormonal changes? What steps have you found to be helpful? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
P.S. You may also find these previous posts helpful: Women and Hormones: No Excuse, and Hot Flashes, Power Surges, Grey Hair – and Wisdom.
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