Written by Teresa Isabel Dias
Are you now working from home? If so, do you know if your home office is health-friendly? If you’re a woman over 40, is your home office menopause-friendly? Or is it making your menopause worse?
As a pharmacist and Certified Menopause Practitioner, I educate others on how menopause affects women in the workplace. I teach organizations how they can, and should, include menopause education and support as part of their holistic approach to employee health and wellness. Women who feel supported by their employers cope better with menopause.
Sometimes work conditions and organizational factors can contribute to a worsening of menopause symptoms at work. These conditions can include stress, crowding, poorly-ventilated places, lack of access to appropriate toilet facilities, and formal meetings,
If you are now working from a home office, it’s the right time to ask if it is menopause-friendly. It can be especially hard if you’re sharing space with your family, and don’t have your own home office.
Here are some tips to consider when you’re creating a menopause-friendly work from home office:
Temperature & Humidity
If you can’t control the temperature without the rest of your family complaining, try working near a window that you can open or close as needed. You can also buy an inexpensive USB desk fan. Dress in layers and remove or add them as needed. If you have severe hot flashes, freeze a wet face cloth overnight and put it on your neck while you work. Keep roll-on essential oils handy at your desk, to help relieve a sudden onset of hot flashes. Is your home very dry? Invest in a portable humidifier and keep the humidity above 40%, if possible.
Aches and pains during menopause are a common complaint. If your body is hurting since you started working from home, could it be due to your home set up? The ergonomics at home are probably less ideal than in an office. Ensure your chair is comfortable and that you sit upright. If you can afford a sit-stand-up desk, then I recommend investing in one. They are amazing and versatile. There are lots of tips online on how to use a sit-stand-up desk, including how to set up your chair, computer, or laptop properly while sitting or standing at your desk.
Also, be sure to stretch often. We are bent over our computers for too many hours a day and it’s detrimental to our health. Set up a timer to move around and do a couple of these stretches to combat the tightness that leads to back, neck, and shoulder pain.
Breaks & Lunch Time
- Don’t skip breakfast – your brain needs energy to work.
- Don’t drink caffeine past 3:00pm, because it may linger in your system for up to eight hours and disrupt your sleep.
- Avoid sugar. Many women report more hot flashes with higher consumption of sugar and simple carbs (white pasta, rice, and pastries). Sweeten your hot drinks with honey instead.
- Plan and make healthy and hydrating snacks. During your coffee break, chop and eat fruit, carrots, peppers, and other colourful and nutritious vegetables that will boost your immune system and help you fight infections. Leave them in the fridge for those munching attacks you’ll get during the day – you can eat as many healthy snacks as you want! Include hummus with your veggies to add protein and help keep you satiated longer. Have a light lunch, like soup and some whole grain bread to avoid an afternoon crash.
- Water is very important for your brain and your skin, and it helps prevent coronavirus infection. It may be easier to drink 8 glasses of water (1.5 L) a day if you remind yourself. Fill a bottle with (cold) water and put it on your desk; ensure you finish it before your shift is over. Need another reminder? Set your phone alert for every hour (8 hours shift = 8 glasses of water). If your brain gets tired and your thoughts aren’t as clear, drink a glass of water or go for a walk.
When working from home, you save commuting time and your schedule may be more flexible. Be sure to move – sitting is the new smoking. Walk before you start working and at lunch, while keeping the recommended physical distancing during the pandemic.
Benefits of movement include:
- burning calories
- better posture
- increased blood circulation to the brain which improves cognition
- release of endorphins – the happy hormones
Teresa Isabel Dias is an Elite+ Mompreneur member in Toronto, Ontario, and is the founder of MenopausED. As a pharmacist and Certified Menopause Practitioner, Teresa helps women 40+ navigate the menopause transition, induced menopause, and lifestyle changes to optimize healthy aging. She provides one-on-one consultations, in-person and online, workshops, discussion groups, and she helps organizations and businesses support female employees during the menopause transition with educational presentations in the workplace and education and training of managers and HR professionals—because besides affecting quality of life, menopause can also affect women’s work performance.
A version of this article was previously published on menopaused.org