Mental Health for Women Over 50

Hey there, beautiful ladies! This May, as we recognize Mental Health Awareness Month, I want to talk about us – the fabulous, strong, women over 50. I recently attended a Women’s conference at my church which included a panel discussion on mental health.   The panelist were very transparent about their individual journey.  I can say I walked away from that session with a different mindset.   So, today we’re going to get real about mental health for women over 50. Obviously, I’m no expert but I have researched and read a lot on the topic and I’m sharing a few of my takeaways.

 Mental Health Isn’t Just for the Young

Now, isn’t it about time we busted the myth that mental health issues are just for the young? We’ve got our own unique set of challenges that can do a number on our mental health. We’re dealing with life-altering stuff like menopause, retirement, and our babies leaving the nest. And sometimes, we’re grappling with the heartache of losing loved ones.

Menopause & Mental Health for Women Over 50

menopause and hot flashes

So, let’s dive right into menopause since it affects us all at one time or another. When I say menopause is like a hormonal roller coaster, I’m not exaggerating one bit. We have our estrogen and progesterone levels dropping one minute, then peaking the next. And with this hormonal jumble, our emotions can often feel like they’re on a wild ride, too.

Mood swings? Oh yes, plenty of those! Some days, we might wake up feeling on top of the world, ready to conquer whatever comes our way. The next, we may find ourselves feeling a bit low, even when everything in our day seems to be going right. These emotional ups and downs are totally normal during menopause, but let’s be real—they can be quite a challenge to navigate.

And then there’s the effect menopause can have on our self-image. Hot flashes can hit out of nowhere, and you’re suddenly feeling like you’re in the Sahara desert. I recall being at a business dinner a few months ago when that internal fire kicked in.  I swear I was sweating like I was in a sauna!  At first, I was embarrassed and then I just owned it and found out others were having the same effect. 🥵

Let’s not forget how when you look in the mirror, you might notice changes to your skin, your hair, and even your body shape. It’s all part of menopause, but that doesn’t make it any less difficult to deal with.

Menopause is a natural stage of life, but let’s be clear—it’s not always an easy one. It’s a major life transition that goes way beyond the hot flashes and night sweats we hear so much about. It affects our bodies, our emotions, and yes, our mental health.

That’s why it’s so crucial to understand what’s happening and to know that it’s okay to seek support. And remember, just like you, there are millions of women riding this same hormonal roller coaster. You’re not alone in this. Let’s face it and embrace it, together.

 Unseen Challenges to Mental Health for Women in Midlife

Now, let’s chat about anxiety and depression. You know, those sneaky intruders that can quietly creep into our lives, especially during times of major life changes or health issues.

Depression isn’t just feeling down for a day or two. It’s a persistently low mood that can make us lose interest in things we once enjoyed. It can leave us feeling tired all the time, have trouble sleeping, or even make it hard for us to concentrate. If you’re feeling this way, remember, it’s okay to ask for help.

Then there’s anxiety. It’s not just being a bit worried. It can feel like a constant, nagging sense of dread or impending doom. Anxiety can make our hearts race, our hands shake, and can even make it hard to breathe. Again, if you’re dealing with these feelings, know that help is out there.

 Senior Moments or Something More?

Ah, “senior moments”…we’ve all had them, right? Like when we walk into a room and are completely blank on why we’re there.  That happened to me this morning.  I swear I went up the stairs to my office three times and each time forgot the thing I went there for.  Or, when we hunt high and low for our glasses, only to find them sitting on top of our heads. You’ve got to admit, these moments can be more comical than worrisome!

But, ladies, it’s worth mentioning that sometimes these amusing instances can hint at something more than just age-related quirks. Cognitive decline often tiptoes in subtly. So what’s the key here? Awareness, my friends. Not the gloomy, fretful kind, but a vigilant, proactive awareness.

An awareness that while mental health considerations do walk alongside us on our aging journey, we’ve got the power to stay on top of them. An awareness that our ‘senior moments’ might warrant a lighthearted chat with our doctor. And perhaps most importantly, an awareness that reaching out for advice is not just okay, it’s downright smart. Remember, you’re not alone in this. We’re on this journey together, supporting one another at every turn.

 How Our Lifestyle Choices Can Improve Mental Health

yoga after 50

But don’t worry, ladies,  our lifestyle choices can be one secret weapon in the fight for our mental health. Eating right, getting our bodies moving, and catching those all-important Z’s can do wonders for our mood and mindset. Plus, never underestimate the power of a good chat. Staying connected with friends and being part of a community – are worth their weight in gold when it comes to mental health.  Now, I’m in no way saying all you have to do is eat right and exercise, and you will have no mental health concerns or challenges.   I’m just saying that taking care of ourselves can be a good start or work in conjunction with other means.

It’s Ok to Ask for Help

Now, let’s talk about getting help. I know I’ve mentioned asking for help several times but navigating the mental health care maze can seem daunting. But the first step is to acknowledge when we need help. Ladies, as hard as it may be for some of us, it’s ok to admit we need help and okay to ask for support! There’s nothing to be ashamed of. While therapy is often taboo in some communities, it can actually be a godsend. There are also other options such as support groups, employee assistance programs through your employer as well as medication prescribed by a physician. What’s most important is knowing that we don’t have to go it alone. Let’s not shy away from getting the help we need.

Self-Care: Embracing Mindfulness, Meditation, and Hobbies

Self-care isn’t selfish, and it’s time we embraced that. Stress-busting practices like mindfulness and meditation can help us keep our cool and promote a positive mindset. Finding hobbies and activities that we love is good for us. And who said learning has an age limit? Keeping our minds active and engaged can help keep cognitive issues at bay.

A Wealth of Resources: Tapping into the Support Available to Us

There are a ton of resources out there, just for women over 50. Organizations offer mental health help support catered just for us. There are support groups, offline and online, where we can share and connect with others going through the same thing. And yes, even our smartphones can help with a range of apps that could help us manage our mental health.

If you want to dive deeper, I’ve included a few links below.

Cognitive Health

National Institute on Aging
National Institute of Mental Health

Mental Health

Mental Health America

 Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindful

 Headspace

 Let’s Take a Stand for Our Mental Health

So, what’s the takeaway here? Mental health for women over 50 matters!  Let’s commit to look after ourselves and one another, not just this month but every day of the year.  Remember, it’s never a sign of weakness to seek help. In fact, it’s one of the bravest things you can do.

Feel free to share this with a friend who could benefit. Take care, and here’s to our mental well-being!

P.S.  Before you go.

I have some exciting news! I’ve just launched a new podcast, “Aging with Grace and Style”. It’s the perfect companion for your morning coffee, drive to or from the office, or the wind-down evening stroll. We’ll dive even deeper into topics that are relevant to us! Listen and subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.

Together, let’s redefine what it means to age with grace, style, and a touch of sass!

Stay tuned, stay strong, and here’s to our journey together. 🥂

 

 

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