This year I turned 50, and for the first time in my life, I started reflecting on my own mortality.
It all started as a tough wake-up call in January 2017 when one of my best friends back home in Slovenia lost her battle with cancer at only 46 years of age. Tina left behind two young children. Prior to this, in 1998, I lost my dad at age 52 to a hiking accident and my beloved grandmother at age 94 in December 2015.
My friend Tina told me in her last email that she wished she had done a better job of eating healthy, exercising, and managing stress. I believe I have been doing okay. However, I’m also an emotional eater due to my chronic anxiety and depression, and because of my car accident in 2016. I have not been able to exercise much, and I live with chronic pain. Yet, after my friend’s premature death, I made a promise to myself to do a much better job when it comes to my health.
Thinking back, I realize I have been on different diets over the years and nothing really worked until I learned about the ketogenic diet. I was encouraged by my functional medicine doctor to strictly follow it. She also prescribed several supplements.
I lost over 25 pounds during a 12-month period, coupled with gentle yoga exercise or 20 minutes on a treadmill in addition to walking my dog and some light swimming. Two months ago, my sleep got worse as I started having night sweats and hot flashes during the day. Again, my functional medicine doctor came to the rescue suggesting I take an herbal formula and natural progesterone. Things are now finally working out and I’m sleeping better. I did need to accept that I don’t have as much energy as I used to and that I need more rest.
I’m fortunate that my husband supports us, so I’ve been able to fully focus on my passion; helping my clients heal and manage chronic anxiety, depression, and stress, while sharing what has worked for me.
I also started reading the famous book The Wisdom of Menopause, by Dr. Christiane Northrup. She made me feel much better and helped me realize that all these changes I’m going through are completely natural. I’m giving myself permission to rest when I need to and not to work so much. Shared below are some key suggestions to pay attention to as you enter your 50s.
Here are 10 Wellness Habits for Women in their 50s:
Eat as Healthy as Possible.
The Ketogenic diet works for me; however, we are all different so pay attention to your body. What feels good, what doesn’t feel good, what makes you feel energized and what kind of foods make you lethargic. I had to give up dairy, sugar, alcohol (even though I never drink much), wheat, and I am also trying to quit coffee as it makes me more anxious.
Incorporate Gentle Exercise.
Do what you love like yoga, dancing, biking, hiking, swimming. If you are struggling with motivation, get an exercise buddy. If you haven’t exercised in a while, set realistic goals, such as three times a week for 20 minutes and then increase your time. Also, do some strength training and stretching.
Women in their 50’s tend to lack vitamin D and iron, as well, like zinc and magnesium. At the same time don’t go overboard, always get your blood checked or work with a functional medicine doctor or doctor of oriental medicine.
Deal with Unresolved Emotional Issues and Find Forgiveness for Yourself and Others.
As per Dr. Northrup, p. 68, during menopause physical and emotional health issues start springing up. She suggests the book Repetition: Life, and Rebirth, by clinical psychotherapist Doris Cohen, Ph.D. Identify emotions in your body. You may also want to check out Louise Hay, The Power is Within You, where she includes a chart showing how emotional issues correspond with physical issues.
Get Your Hormones Checked.
Based on the findings you can decide if hormone replacement therapy or bio-identical hormones therapy is right for you. Personally, I have always been more interested in natural ways, so I’m only adding natural progesterone from Chaste Tree/Vitex in addition to an herbal formula. It all depends how severe your menopause symptoms are.
Get Plenty of Sleep.
We are all different, however, 7-8 hours is still a good rule of the thumb. If you wake up tired, do some yoga poses (down dog pose really helps with fatigue) and take naps. I always take a nap after lunch and do my guided meditation.
Enjoy Time in Nature.
Spend time outdoors to boost your mood as well as get natural vitamin D.
Daily Healthy Habits.
Create daily healthy habits to manage stress, including breathing exercise and guided meditation. Use whatever helps you stay positive, including positive affirmations, journaling, or “mirror” work as developed by Louise Hay.
Learn to Say NO and Set Healthy Boundaries.
If this has been challenging for you, you might expect some resistance from your family members. Ask for help and delegate as needed.
Most of all, love yourself no matter what and know when you deserve a break. Most women have worked full-time jobs and raised children in addition to doing the majority of the housework, as well as, planning family and social obligations. Maybe it’s time for new hobbies and new creative outlets. I’m thinking about taking cooking and photography classes.
Remember, this is the time for wisdom and embracing your life, both good and bad, and know that you have a lot to give and share.
Wishing you the best as you embrace these new wellness habits and may you have happy holidays!
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