Now that the year is coming to a close, think back to January. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions? There’s a good chance that they went out the window by Valentine’s Day. According to U.S. News & World Report, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions are broken by the second week of February.
But that’s not necessarily your fault. While most people have good intentions, they choose resolutions that are unrealistic for their lifestyle. Losing a precise amount of weight is tricky, boosting your savings is tough if you have a financial emergency, and learning a new language is, well, who has the time for that?
When it comes to your menopausal health, it’s important to make incremental changes that will stick. Whether you’re in perimenopause or you’re already in the throes of full-fledged hot flashes, here are three realistic New Year’s resolutions that will help improve your menopausal health.
1. Commit to a healthy diet
Committing to a healthy diet is a popular New Year’s resolution. For good reason too. A healthy diet helps ward off mood swings, lessens the severity of hot flashes, improves sleep, and prevents weight gain. Here are a few diet do’s and don’ts.
- Opt for lean proteins like chicken, fish, beans, tofu, egg whites, and Greek yogurt to help keep you fuller longer and avoid weight gain during menopause.
- Try eating small meals every three to four hours to stay full and keep your energy and mood levels up.
- Eat foods rich in calcium and vitamin D to improve bone health.
- Choose healthy fats like avocados, almonds, tuna, olive oil, and salmon.
- Choose foods high in fiber — like flax seeds, for example — to help improve insulin sensitivity and aid digestion.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Stay hydrated.
- Drink too much. Alcohol triggers hot flashes and other menopause symptoms.
- Add hot sauce. Spicy foods are yet another hot flash trigger.
- Eat a lot of sweets. Sugar ruins your skin and causes weight gain. Soft drinks and fruit juices, bottled salad dressings and sauces, and packaged foods are all filled with sugar.
- Reach for that second cup of coffee — especially if you’re struggling with sleeplessness.
- Eat processed foods. They’re terrible for your health for all kinds of reasons.
In addition to these tips, consider using a food diary to track your meals and how you feel after eating certain foods. It may help you uncover triggers of menopause symptoms or other reasons you’re not feeling your best.
2. Prioritize a good night’s sleep
Sleep issues are among the first signs of perimenopause and can be the most persistent. Whether you’re stressed, have night sweats, or just can’t seem to stay asleep all night, you are most definitely not alone. Prioritizing your sleep is an easy New Year’s resolution goal, and following these few steps can lead to a better night’s sleep.
First, commit to a consistent bedtime and wakeup time to get on a regular sleep schedule — even on the weekends and your days off. Consistency is key for a good night’s sleep every night.
Next, create a bedtime routine. This could mean no screen time for an hour or two before you go to bed, reading a book, or a hot bath. If you regularly have trouble sleeping, a white noise playlist can work wonders.
Finally, pay close attention to your bedroom environment. If you suffer from night sweats, keep your room as cool as you can to help keep your body temperature down. If your night sweats are severe, consider keeping a bucket of ice near your bed if you need to cool down quickly.
3. Banish stress
Stress is a huge trigger of menopause symptoms like hot flashes, and chronic stress could quite literally kill you. But it’s not like you can quit your job and take a sabbatical to the Maldives. Finding ways to manage your day-to-day stress will ultimately benefit your long-term health.
In addition to calming your brain and helping you relax, breathing exercises can help lessen the severity of hot flashes. Relaxation breathing — deeply breathing in and out for several minutes at a time — may help reduce hot flashes. Check out this list of breathing exercises to find one that works best for you.
Meditation is another way to promote your emotional well-being and give yourself a sense of calm. Like breathing exercises, you can meditate just about anywhere and you don’t need a whole lot of time to do it. From guided meditation to mantra meditation, there are many options. If you’re new to meditation and you’re not sure where to begin, try a guided meditation app.
Finally, yoga can be powerful for banishing stress. Yoga may also help relieve stress, improve sleep and energy, and boost mood . Hatha yoga, in particular, is ideal for stress management and perfect for beginners, as it incorporates easier movements at a slower pace. There’s no need to buy a costly yoga membership either. There are plenty of free online options that you can stream at home.
Prioritize self-care in the new year
Self-care is way more than bubble baths and face masks. It’s consistently making choices that support your health and well-being. The new year is the perfect time to recommit yourself to you.