The years leading up to and following menopause can be a hormonal roller coaster. Your body and mind are changing in unparalleled ways; not since puberty or pregnancy do so many momentous changes come to pass in so short a time.
Keeping a menopause journal during this time can help you stay grounded. A journal is a great place for you to open up about your life, a sacred spot for the thoughts and anxieties you may not want to share with someone else. Often, women find that menopause is accompanied by a vast array of emotions. Hopes and dreams that may have remained quietly in the background of their thoughts may now surface during menopause. This period in your life can be a time of real self-discovery and growth if you maintain an open mind.
Using a journal during menopause can also help you keep tabs on what's happening to your body. Fluctuating hormones can lead to a variety of symptoms — irregular periods, hot flashes, or mood swings, among others. Tracking your daily (or hourly) symptoms in a journal can help you understand your body's progression through these changes. Think of it as a record of your body's transformation; it'll give you some perspective on this period of change and help you sort out your feelings, good and bad.
Even if you aren’t going through menopause, journaling can be an invaluable exercise. Consider the following:
Be purposeful about writing down any negative thoughts and feelings.
By now you’re likely aware that you are attracted to certain types. Why is that? What are the unique scripts in your head that are informing this selection? In other words, if you have a running dialogue in your head that says you are overweight, unintelligent, worthless, or any other negative trait, you aren’t going to pick a partner who treats you with respect.
Examine the sources of your most common negative thoughts.
Think about where each thought came from and write that down, too (for example, perhaps your emotionally abusive mom often said that you were fat, or your first boyfriend called you a slut after you lost your virginity to him). Notice how many of these negative thoughts were actually implanted by others and then internalized by you as true. Are you ready to let go of them? Can you look at each belief about yourself, examine where it came from, and decide to no longer carry that voice in your head? When you are done writing, you can rip up the note or even burn it in the sink with a match.
Keep a gratitude journal.
It might feel a little forced at first, especially if depression makes you feel like there is little to be happy about. However, sitting down and examining the good things in your life will help you find ways to be thankful, whether it is for good friends, your cozy apartment, your sense of humor, your pet, or other little things that are uniquely yours.
Focusing your pen on your experience with menopause will help you embrace and acknowledge your personal journey more fully, and it will help to gently launch you into the next chapter of your life.