Alcohol and the Menopause

For those of you who’ve embraced “dry January”, the end is in sight! If you’ve come this far, huge congratulations!  Some of you will no doubt be feeling both physically and mentally better, and probably looking good.

Despite Kim and I being non-drinkers, we understand that a glass of wine for some of our friends and clients is a form of relief at the end of a long day; or for others, a comforting friend who can take the edge off loneliness, anxiety, depression or stress.

But is this self-medication really helping?  Unfortunately, the facts speak for themselves and the answer is I’m afraid, a very sober no. It might temporarily numb the pain - or give you an evening of escape, but long term studies show that it’s in itself a depressant, and of course, addictive.  And if that weren’t enough of a deterrent, it prematurely ages.

It’s not easy to avoid alcohol; we live in a society now where booze is so embedded in our world that it’s hard to even find a birthday card without an alcoholic anecdote. But if you’re feeling depressed or menopausal symptoms are getting a grip, saying no to alcohol could significantly ease hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, etc: as other women are starting to realise.

Some of my clients notice a change almost immediately, their skin looks clearer, their eyes sparkle, and a number report that they’re sleeping much more deeply. Once we no longer have periods, excess hormones are filtered through the liver, in turn surging through the body and hence, a hot flush.  Keeping your liver clean and healthy allows it to filter toxins more efficiently,  and that can only be a good thing!

It’s never easy giving up something you love, something you rely on, but it can be done. Here are some tips to help you:

1.     Try to get to the root cause of why you need a drink. Drinking isn’t the problem, it’s a symptom of the real problem. As a hypnotherapist, together with my clients we find what’s causing them to reach out for comfort. Then if we can’t change that, we change the way they see it.

2.     Replace the sugar gradually.  Alcohol is full of sugar; many recovering alcoholics absolutely crave sugar once they’ve given up. To begin with, don’t give yourself a hard time about little sugar treats, whilst you’re getting through the first few weeks.  Once you feel ready, start to swap refined sugars like sweets and chocolate for slow burning carbohydrates such as brown pasta, brown rice, brown bread etc. This will help you avoid the highs and lows, which can cause you to feel depressed and reach for a “fix”.

3.     Fill your body with good nutrients. If your body is nourished and your brain is firing on all cylinders, it has a greater chance of fighting cravings and addiction. Vitamin B complex aids the nervous system, Chromium helps with sugar cravings, and Ashwagandha (Ayurvedic) controls the adrenal glands and helps with anxiety. We recommend you speak to a Naturopathic Doctor or Nutritionist especially if you’re on medication.

4.     Avoid triggers, change habits.  For example, if you know you’ll reach for a glass of wine at a certain time, make yourself busy at that time, ideally with something self-indulgent.

5.     Think about why you want to do this. Focus on your health, your well-being, perhaps how you look, your weight and your skin. Weigh up what’s more important, a drink and a host of potential health problems, or a possibility of feeling and looking amazing.

6.     Spoil yourself. Have a massage, a manicure, a new pair of shoes, a weekend away, read a beautiful book, paint, whatever makes you feel self- indulgent, you deserve it.

7.     If you need help, don’t be ashamed to seek it. AA (Alcoholics Annonymous) is a group run by addicts and nothing to be ashamed of. Sharing with non judgemental people who understand can be invaluable. One to one therapy is also very helpful, and if you don’t like one therapist, it doesn’t mean you won’t like another, keep trying.