Menopause Valentine’s Day: Reroute Cupid’s Arrow
Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching. Please, hold your applause. While we’re often split on love and hate for the holiday, I’d put my money on a lot of midlife women feeling vaguely indifferent.
While I’m not here to defend Cupid himself, there’s a reason Valentine’s Day gets a bad rap. We tend to celebrate the holiday through an outward expression of love for those we hold dear. February 14th brings with it a heavy expectation to strike the perfect balance between both giving and receiving this love. But what happens on this random day in the dead of winter if we’re just not feeling it, especially during that phase of menopause when we are at our most irritable?
Undue pressure. That’s what happens.
For many women in menopause and midlife, day to day, hour to hour, we’re constantly changing through shifts we feel physically and the emotions we explore. Sometimes it can feel like an effort simply to know our own selves, let alone take care of others.
But change is a good thing because it creates the opportunity for us to explore our own being on a deeper level. And believe it or not, this holiday presents the perfect time to respond accordingly.
Focus On the Inner Game
A friend of mine recently changed jobs. She took a week off in between gigs to get back on track, both physically and mentally. While many of us would be hesitant to make plans with seven days of absolute freedom, she had another idea.
The goal was to exercise all 5 Love Languages, on herself.
If you’re unfamiliar with the 5 Love Languages, take a peek at Dr. Gary Chapman’s world-renowned methodology for strengthening your relationships by better understanding your own needs and those of your partner. Dr. Chapman defines five ways we relate to a loved one: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. By identifying with these behaviors, we’re able to get on the same page as our partner and communicate more effectively.
But what about getting on the same page as ourselves? I, for one, am quick to feel something and dismiss it entirely if it inhibits the execution of my duties for the day. Like most of us, these obligations often revolve around my career or family. Show love to me…on a weekday? Hmm, sounds indulgent to me. I adore the people in my life, and I want nothing more than for them to know the depth of this love. I do my best to show it. Why then, do I use the word indulgent when it comes to my own self-love?
Focusing on yourself, especially during menopause and midlife, creates the opportunity to clearly see what you need and devise a plan to answer that calling. When you’ve got energy and joy, you’ll also find yourself more eager to display loving care for others. It’s a win-win. So on this heart holiday, I propose we start with self-love first.
Few of us will have a full week for a personal exploration of the 5 Love Languages. Though I encourage you to stretch your thinking about what’s possible. If you can spend one hour on each practice, by all means, do it! If 60 seconds seems like a hurdle, rest assured that it’s still worth it because, in that time, you’re still making the powerful choice to show up for yourself in this loving way.
Get curious about that little voice in your brain that wants you to pull back on your ideas or plans. Creating self-awareness here goes a long way, but do so with grace. A great way to approach this is to notice the non-worthy self-talk and imagine yourself saying it out loud to a friend.
For example, if you’re contemplating some time away on the weekend for a solo venture, and your brain fills up with “You don’t deserve that, it creates too much pressure on your partner and kids!” Just imagine saying the same to a good girlfriend. Would you tell her she’s not worth it?
Show Me the Love
Close your eyes, take a deep breath. If you could best serve yourself with an act of love, what would it be? Tune into your body, the sound of your heart, and the steady flow of air as it circulates. Trust what comes, even if it’s in contrast to how you might express your love with a partner or friend. Here are a few ideas to spark your creativity.
5 Love Languages To Practice For Yourself This Valentine’s Day
Words of Affirmation
What does it look like to use language as an expression of care? We can bathe ourselves in the words of others in the form of poetry, a great novel, or even a killer podcast or album that feeds the soul. You might also consider attending a talk or discussion, journaling, or connecting over coffee with an old friend.
Acts of Service
The tables have turned, and here you have the opportunity to serve yourself in a way that makes life more enjoyable. Amongst your weekly or monthly jobs, what can be outsourced for some added relief? Perhaps you can hire someone to clean your living space. Or maybe there’s an opportunity to indulge in your favorite take-out on a night when you would typically commit to cooking. You know best your obligations and what some well-deserved reprieve looks like.
The good news here is that material gifts can be as grand or small as fits with your lifestyle. Regardless, this act still holds a tremendous amount of value. There’s a lot of power in deciding that you deserve an object of your choosing. A client of mine recently shared that she had stopped on her way into work for a latte, and it blew her mind to realize how special it felt. Sure, the coffee was amazing, but I have a hunch that she was actually referring to her choice to break her usual routine and take the ten minutes allotted for her own pure enjoyment.
As Oprah says, the greatest gift we can give ourselves is time. And in this case, it’s not the time to fit in more chores or an extra batch of emails at work. Quality, by its very definition, means we’re exploring the merit of how we spend this time. Is this alone time or together time? More time awake or extra time to sleep? The question is not, can I find more time? It becomes, how can I best use time to serve me?
Our body has all of the answers we need. If we slow down and listen, it will share exactly what we should know, including how it might want to be healed and treated. In a comfortable position, conduct a full-body scan beginning at your head and ending at your toes. Notice where you might hold tension in your body. While you may or may not be able to enjoy a full body massage, scale back this measure to a method that serves you. Curl up with a heating pad before bed or order a pair of microfleece socks for the coldest February night. Day in and day out, your body does so much for you. Pay it back in the nicest way possible.
May this be your happiest Valentine’s Day yet!
Megan Sanchez is a certified Health Coach for busy professionals who are stretched thin and exhausted from unhealthy patterns that impact their personal and professional success. She supports people in designing a new lifestyle that combats burnout and prioritizes mental and physical health. Megan is a graduate of the Mastery Coaching Program from the Health Coach Institute and is certified in Transformational Coaching, which is based on cutting edge psychology, brain science, and behavior change. She holds a degree from Syracuse University with studies in experiential design and psychology. Megan offers private coaching and group workshops both in person and virtually across the country. To learn more, visit Upswing Health Coaching.
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