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6 Ways to Rediscover Your Confidence in Midlife

So many women tell me they lost their confidence as they approached menopause. For some it's a sudden omg, stop in their tracks moment, often accompanied by a panic attack. For others it's a gradual wearing down, a slowly dawning realisation that everything they had been certain of before suddenly isn't so certain any more.

Sometimes, there seems to be no apparent reason for this loss of confidence. Anxiety, depression, a feeling of being lost can come out of nowhere. So what can cause this loss of confidence and what can we do we do to arrest it? How do we get our mojo back?

6 Ways we can Lose our Confidence in Midlife - and How to Rediscover it.

1. Physical appearance. Slowing metabolism often results in weight gain, especially around the middle. Facially, we lose collagen and start to notice a softening in the jawline, wrinkles, eye bags - if we feel we don't recognise ourselves in the mirror any more it can knock confidence.

  • If changes in your physical appearance are getting you down, try not to avoid looking in the mirror. Make a point of looking yourself in the eye and thinking kindly about yourself. I believe we are so obsessed with looking "youthful" in the western world, we have lost the ability to see the beauty, strength and character in an older face. See this blog post for more ideas around self image.

2. Psychological changes. It is not uncommon for a woman who has never had a day's depression to suddenly feel suicidal. Anxiety is common, as is loss of concentration, "brain fog" and panic attacks, all very alarming!

  • If you are feeling suicidal, please speak to someone IMMEDIATELY. You don't have to go through this alone and for many there is a relatively simple remedy which involves restoring hormone levels. You are not "going mad" - more often than not, there is a physical cause.  If you are finding yourself worrying more than usual, feeling anxious for no apparent reason, there are many techniques and therapies you can try. Hypnotherapy, mindfulness, meditation, yoga - all these are known to help. If you are clinically depressed, don't shy away from anti-depressants as they might be needed to"lift" you just enough so that you can find the energy and motivation to access these things for yourself. Take a look at this blog post for a few ideas on alternative ways to deal with the symptoms of the menopause.

3. Physical changes. It can be really disconcerting when your body starts to let you down - aching joints, irregular and erratic periods, loss of temperature control - to name but a few.

  • Exercise and a good diet, high in plant-based foods and phytoestrogen-rich will help you to take control of aches and pains. Furthermore, the feeling of being pro-active will be good for your confidence. Your mental health may also be improved. However, don't expect to lose weight as easily as you did at 30. Not all calories are equal and what you eat and when is as significant as how much.*

4. Career difficulties. Some women might have been successful in a career for years, yet suddenly start to doubt their ability. Most workplaces still don't support menopausal women, which perpetuates stigma so that many women feel they have to hide their age and any symptoms they might be experiencing.

  • According to a recent study, 1 in 4 women consider leaving their jobs due to menopausal symptoms.* What a huge loss to the economy! There are signs that an increasing number of employers are taking this issue more seriously. Do you know the policy in your workplace? Whether you are suffering or not, could you help to implement change - or at least suggest it?  It is also worth considering if work is getting you down, is it time for a change? Midlife can present a tremendous opportunity to travel in a new direction if we can embrace change.

5.  Loss of Fertility. Having choices over our lives removed is disempowering. Many women mourn the end of their fertile years, even if we've had children. If we've put off having children, or decided not to have them at all, there is a difference between that being our choice and nature making it impossible and many women who have been happy with their decisions are surprised by a feeling of loss.

  • Loss of fertility* is a very tangible reminder that we are getting older. Often, it is not the fact that we can no longer have children, but the loss of CHOICE that batters our confidence. If, however, becoming a mother was something that was dearly desired, the grief experienced as all hope fades can be overwhelming. Please don't be afraid to seek support so that you are able to move forward into this new phase of your life.

General Life Changes. Very few people get to 50 without some experience of hardship or loss. Bereavement, joblessness, empty nest, divorce - big life changes often knock our confidence as what we have always believed to be normal life for us is turned on its head.

  • Coming to terms with the past is an essential part of moving forward in life. If there are unresolved issues from our childhood, our love lives or other personal events that have caused us pain, midlife seems to be the time when we can no longer sweep them under the emotional carpet. Now is the time seek counselling if needed to bring everything out into the open in our own minds so that we can put the past to rest, leaving room for new experiences.

Losing confidence during the midlife transition is common, but doesn't have to be inevitable. As we age we can become somewhat entrenched in the views we have developed and our own sense of what is right, comfortable and desirable.

I believe that the greatest skill needed to make the most of our midlife and beyond is the ability to embrace change. Adaptability, resilience, an open mind - these are the essential tools we need to be happy. The good news is that if you do find yourself struggling, these are attributes that we can develop or strengthen at any age,  rebuilding our confidence and paving the way for a happy, more contented life.

Start now by making a list of your strengths, the things you like about yourself, the achievements that make you proud. They don't have to be big things. I make a good Victoria sponge for example, leads you to think about the benefits of that attribute - my work colleagues love it when I bring cake into the office, or my grandchildren love Grandma's chocolate brownies are positive thoughts that form the building blocks to increased confidence.

We work extensively on rediscovering confidence in the Membership - do consider going us if you need a little help.

 

 

* Look out for further posts on these topics (I will add the links when published) 

 

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