Hey there, my long lost soul sisters! I’ve missed you!! Have you been hanging on for dear life these last few months? Do you find yourself struggling to keep it all together and stay focused in the middle of your ‘midlife’ life? Me too. It’s hard enough to just do menopause. Now we have a whole new virus to fight. How do you focus your midlife brain in the midst of the craziness of CoVID-19 and menopause?
I’ve been learning some things.
First off, my very profound statement is just this:
Everything is crazy.
The world has gone crazy. America has gone crazy. And then there’s me. Did I mention that I started HRT around the same time as this virus wreaked havoc on the U.S.?
Just consider it a blessing you don’t live in my house.
I know it seems I’ve gone AWOL from this blog, and I guess I did for a time. I just couldn’t seem to put words on a page. My exact thoughts were, “How in the world can I help my readers when I can’t even calm my own brain?”
This year has definitely been one for the ages. Can we be done with 2020 already?
So how are you coping? How have you changed over these last few months (that has seemed like 10 years)?
As is sit here I can’t believe how much the world has changed in only a few months. The things we worried about in March, just our normal everyday life problems, seem so ridiculous and flimsy.
What did we worry about on a normal, ‘everyday’ day?
Now we fear rogue germs on our hands, getting sick, losing jobs, and for a time we worried about finding toilet paper. Fear itself has seemed to swallow us whole.
This tiny microscopic virus has done way more damage to our collective psyche than our bodies. Have you been keeping a journal through all this? Someday we will look back and marvel at all the headlines and back-to-back crises.
I remember in my childhood I sat spellbound when my parents told stories of their childhood during WWII and the sacrifices they made. Similarly, the year 2020 will be a year for stories to be passed down to our grandchildren.
Are you finding it hard to focus your midlife brain?
Perhaps anxiety itself is the real virus that has literally crept into our otherwise normal mental health. (If anyone knows what the ‘norm’ is for the menopausal set let me know.)
It’s almost become a joke to muse about what out of the ordinary event could happen today or in the near future. I’ve heard talk of zombies and aliens on the horizon. (Here in Utah, just after the shutdown, we did days of earthquakes.) And while none of these crises are funny, per se, my emotional state is just weary from worry about them all.
I want everyone safe and healthy with their families and tucked in at night. But alas, I can’t control all these events. They seem to keep coming, yet we have to keep going and keeping on. We have families to tend to and responsibilities at work.
Stress wears us out. Physically and emotionally.
If your brain has seemingly taken a hit and you feel like you can’t concentrate on anything in the midst of never-ending turmoil, let me assure you, you are not alone. I’d like to offer you some simple guidance and and daily practical ideas that have been helping me.
1. Map out a goal with all necessary steps.
Have you ever heard of a mind map? If not, here’s a quick graphic to give you an idea of what a mind map looks like. It’s just a quick drawing to help your brain get a handle a daily or weekly goal. Spend 2 minutes and jot down one goal, in the middle of your paper, that you’d like to accomplish today. Then around it, write down every step necessary to complete it. In other words, you are breaking down a larger goal into smaller, bite-size pieces.
This simple exercise really helps me to visualize a large task that seems overwhelming. When I break it down into smaller pieces, I see that I can easily complete the steps needed to accomplish my goal.
2. Plan your day.
Once I have a goal, and the steps to finish it, I plan out my day accordingly. I live with my planner right beside me at my desk. My menopausal brain needs a lot of help to remember things, so I make a lot of lists.
Plot your steps from your mind map into your daily schedule and mark them off one by one.
I have a really great and simple tool called my Daily Mission in my Resource Library that I’d love to send you! Just shoot me your email at the end of this post!
3. Dig into an engrossing book.
I’ve noticed, especially in this news drenched era of CoVID, that I can easily get swallowed up in the news cycle. Always looking for more recent headlines from social media, my brain jumps from idea to idea, never fully processing…….anything. Often those headlines are just too painful to process.
I need to give my brain a break, and allow it to fully digest ideas. I need to turn off the ‘channel switching’ action and rest. Diving into a book allows me to process in one long stream. It may take a while to recover your attention span, but keep at it.
Visit my Pinterest board Books & Movies if you need some book ideas.
Turn off the TV and embrace the quiet. Allow your brain to process ideas fully, without being yanked into yet another scenario.
4. Bookend your day.
These recent days have cemented my need for prayer and quiet reflection at the beginning and end of my day. My anxiety has been through the roof. Some of it has been caused by my own crazy hormone imbalances. A lot of it is caused by the events in the daily news.
I need to keep my thoughts in check, and so I try start out my day with time in the Word, reminding me of my need for Him and His watch care over me.
The same thing happens as I fall into my bed at night. I try to clear my mind so that I can sleep. I say a quick prayer giving all my anxious worries back over to God (because I tend to take them back during the day from the morning). Once again, I lay them at His feet to handle and fix.
I made a quick daily planner tool that you can find in my Resource Library which includes on the back a space to dump your brain before you go to sleep. Try it out!
And then I rest.
5. Clean up your eating.
My sweet friend, let me tell you from my heart that your eating affects EVERYTHING else about you! Your general feeling of wellness, your mood, your complexion. It ALL stems from your gut.
It’s summer, so fruits and vegetables are plentiful and cheaper. Fill your fridge with lots of them. Nix white sugar and white flour as they slow down your digestion and
Visit my Pinterest board Paleo Recipes if you’re looking for some new ‘clean eating’ ideas to improve digestion and boost your immunity.
If you haven’t heard about cortisol yet, you need to do some research. An imbalanced cortisol level can screw up your sleep, your weight, and your mood.
6. Visit your doctor.
Now is a good time to make an appointment with your doctor, especially if you do seem to be having ongoing struggles with anxiety or depression. Talk to your provider frankly.
Is it time for a full blown physical? Stress can affect more than just your general mood, which include things like your digestion as well as thyroid and heart performance and yes, your menopausal hormone balance.
Various tests are available, both blood and saliva, which can measure your hormone levels. Remember you also have the option to see a functional provider who will dig into your symptoms and strategically work to find the root cause of your symptoms.
7. Keep your brain engaged in today, only.
This has been my youngest daughter’s senior year. What a rollercoaster it has been! Between her anxiety and my own, I’ve had to apologize to my husband often for our house of hormones.
I tell her daily that the unrest and uncertainty right now in this world will resolve. While I have lived through uncertain days many times in my own life, her short life has little to glean from to remember that good times are ahead.
Anxiety is generated when we try to live in the future, instead of today. When our brains are constantly spent in the ‘what-ifs’ and worst case scenarios, we exhaust our coping skills. We can only live in one day at a time.
I tell my daughter often that the craziness will even out and normalize. She needs to trust me when she doesn’t have the long lifepath to glean from as I do, to remember where God has rescued before.
Spend some time in grateful reflection daily to remember how, and how often, God has brought us, and this country, and the world, through tough times. That’s what He does. He rescues. He heals. And He’ll do it again.
This is a time to blindly trust that YES, God is in control, still. How do I know this? Because the Bible tells me so.
Tomorrow will take care of itself. All we have is today.
8. Renew connection.
Use your mind map or planner to make a list of friends that you miss or haven’t seen in a while. Pick one each day make a phone call. Bring some simple joy to her day, which in turn also puts a smile to your own face.If possible, use Facetime or Zoom to actually feel like you’re with them.
Or, write a quick note and shoot it through the mail. Who doesn’t love receiving a hand written note to brighten their day?
You can strive to focus your midlife brain by diverting your mind (even for a few minutes) from all the worries of the day. Spend some time and laughs with an old friend! Just watch your anxiety retreat to the back burner for a few minutes!
9. Chase laughter.
I need to laugh when I’m stressed or worried! Do you have a favorite comedian or sitcom that you enjoy? Make a point of plugging into them for a time daily!
I love Tim Hawkins, Brian Regan, Leanne Morgan and Jeanne Robertson, to name a few. You can find them easily with a search on Youtube.
I have found old episodes of Friends (my generation) on often during the day. I don’t think one episode when I did not laugh out loud. My husband and I also love old Carol Burnett Show reruns.
10. Count your blessings.
I talk often in my posts about the discipline of looking for the good things in our lives and writing them down. Gratefulness changes our hearts from the inside out.
Looking for good things to add a list of blessings is yet one more trick to keep us grounded in today.
Counting my blessings focuses my midlife brain on the real things I need to focus on. The good things. The things that matter. I’m blown away by God’s provision for me. Every. Single. Time.
My dear friend, I hope and pray as you navigate these unsettled days, that these practical ideas help you in some way. Do not hesitate to get professional help if depression has shown up in your life. I’m famous for telling everyone I meet that everyone needs a therapist. It’s truth. Know that though we may not have met face to face, I am praying for you!
Let me send you my Daily Mission printable to help you focus your menopausal brain. Just shoot me your email just below!