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Saying no and the top 12 tips for perimenopause self care this winter!

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

woman holding candle in winter

This is such a crazy time of year for women to pack in everything they feel they should do ontop of everything you actually have to do. Then, if you have children in school your timetable is even more jampacked! When you get to the big day on December 25th you're most likely running on fumes then you either have to pack the whole family up and ship out to family for Christmas or you'll be up at the crack of dawn because you're the Christmas caterer; any of this ringing bells?

The best Christmas all my clients have told me was when covid meant we had to isolate and many could just hunker down and get some well earned R n R! This year you're probably back to how things were pre-covid so I've put together the essential kit to help you get through to New Year with some energy in your tank. This month's menopause blog is Saying No and the top 12 tips for perimenopause self care this winter!

Saying No and the top 12 tips for perimenopause self care this winter!

I want to make these self care tips as time efficient as possible for you, it's not about booking a spa day in the middle of this hectic season but it is about looking after your health in mind and body so that you get to the new year with your energy intake ready to start again!

Viewing your health and energy from the view point of chinese medicine means I have lots of little tricks that you may not know about yet, some may seem counter-intuitive but stick with it as they do work!

Let's start with a biggie that doesn't cost a penny or take a second, and in fact will give you your precious time back:

It's OK to say NO

We seem to be programmed to say yes to everything nowadays and it's those that say yes to everything that are the most stressed and have the worst symptoms. If you learn one thing from this blog it's to learn this and to start saying no.

PAUSE before you answer when you're asked, check in with yourself, do you really want to do this?

Make an excuse if you don't then you avoid the guilt and pressure of saying yes to something you really don't have the time and energy for, and you gain that back for your own self care :)

You have a finite amount of energy in the day, use it wisely, use it to benefit you and those you love and the things you love doing.

1. Vitamins before treats

You can always have a little of what you fancy but keep it as treats rather than staples, and reach for your supplements if you feel you're going into an energy slump. I've found if I make sure I take my vitamins and minerals every morning then cravings for quick energy carby foods can be reduced. Get ahead of your energy slumps by feeding your mind and body what it needs - nutrients.

If you're feeling quite grotty the morning after the night before double your multi vitamin, vitamin C and magnesium. Take the latter two before bed as well, this helps put some valuable nutrients into your system for over night maintenance. Your body will appreciate tumeric too just before bed as whilst your sleeping your liver and your nervous system are busy running healing routines so these supplements will help boost this.

Daily doses of vitamin C should help keep your immunity up and reduce your chances of getting bugs. One of the changes in menopause is that your immunity tends to reduce so combat this with more vitamins. If you get a cold then take vitamin C every 4 or so hours to help reduce the symptoms more quickly!

2. Keep hydrated (between Prosecco's!)

Whether you have a tipple or not, keeping hydrated keeps headaches away, grumpiness reduced and diminishes cravings. It doesn't need to always been plain water, herbal teas, decaffeinated tea, hot cranberry juice and the like, they all hydrate you. Trying to keep most of your drinks at least at room temperature as warmer drinks help you feel more energised.

Cold drinks put a pressure on your kidneys which regulate your body temperature so they work harder to warm you up, which tires you out. You don't need this additional stress on your kidneys as menopause is already taking a toll. If you can keep your drinks warmer you'll want to pee less too!

In the evenings, if you're cold try heating cranberry juice (no added sugar one) with a pinch of cinnamon in, it makes a lovely warming drink plus the cinnamon has positive health benefits like regulating your blood sugar. Cinnamon is just one of those spices that says Christmas all over, so inhale the scent and enjoy this alternative to Mulled wine.

Over the party season remember to have a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you have, AND another tip: clear spirits are a lighter load on your liver than wine!

Water is the element of Winter, so it's just as important to remain hydrated through this time of the year as in the warmer months. Being indoors more with heating on can dehydrate you, and you may also notice your skin is dryer, so be mindful of this and keep on sipping!

3. Keep things simple

Drop the should's! Don't make things too fancy or complicated for yourself, this season is about being with people more than being in the kitchen. I've come from years of spending more time in the kitchen but nowadays I prefer more quality time with friends. If you've got a list of: I should do this or that then stop, take a deep slow breathe and think whether this is really necessary. A lot of the time if you think you should do something there is either some sort of guilt or resentment attached, and this drags you down. Re-assess anything that is giving you stress and decide whether it's critical, and if not: dump it!

4. Essential oils are nature's medicine

One of my favourite self care rituals is having my favourite scents around, this can be a candle with a blend of essential oils or a bottle on hand to sniff to help calm you, cool you down, lift your mood or relieve restrictive breathing; and many more health benefits.

Many women have breathing issues through menopause, so a great essential oil to have around is Eucalyptus. I know many women with Asthma who just love the scent. It opens the airways and reduces the bronchial restrictions helping you breathe better.

Citrus oils uplift your mood in seconds. The scent molecules from just sniffing an open bottle travel up your olfactory nerve (via your nose) to the limbic system in your brain, the centre that links emotions to smells. This then joins the endocrine system (hormones) so you can change how you feel in moments. Oils like lavender and geranium calm you down and destress you. Clary sage evens out raging hormones, peppermint is cooling. If you want a gorgeous smelling cream that comes with a blend of 6 essential oils to help relieve your hot flushes and night sweats, and calm you down when things get fractious you need to try Blossom cream. I designed this out of my love for essential oils and how amazing they are at reducing your symptoms quickly!

woman inhaling Blossom Menopause cooling cream
Inhale Blossom to reduce stress symptoms quickly

5. Candles induce sleep and wellbeing

Candles set the mood so quickly, their scent can change the way you're feeling (see above) and the soft flickering light induces melatonin so you start to relax and feel sleepy. In the evenings, as soon as you can pop candles on. If you struggle to get to sleep early enough it could be that you're working on screens to late into the evening (blue light which wakes you up).

Candles can be used to help you meditate, gaze at the hypnotising flame as it flickers and minutes will pass in mindfulness. You'll truly be in the moment and those few minutes of calm will help your tired brain greatly.

You can even cook by candle light, have candles on to combat the blue light of the TV and of course, no relaxing bath can be had without the gentle flickering!

burning candle in stone pot

6. Bath in goodness

Make your bath work for you! Use a bathtime to help you replenish your nutrient reserves as well as serve as well-earned me-time. Add some drops of your favourite essential oils into a bowl of about 200g of Magnesium flakes (or Epsom salts). If you see bath salts with sea minerals in this would be great to add too. The aromas of the oils along with absorbing the nutrients through your skin will benefit any achiness that you have. Sweet orange is a lovely one for lifting your mood; can you smell an orange and not feel happy?

If you don't have a bath then treat yourself to a shower gel that has essential oils in it. There are many brands out their that blend oils specifically for sleep or relaxation or as a waking revitalisation in the mornings. You can even hang a sprig of eucalyptus in the shower, the hot water will release the refreshing scent, inhale to strenghten your lungs and keep bugs at bay.

bathing essentials, oils , salts, candle

7. Keep your kidneys warm

This one may take a leap of faith especially if you have hot flushes! Your kidneys regulate your body temperature and happy kidneys like to be kept warm but not too hot (hot kidneys are another issue in chinese medicine). A lot of issues in menopause have the underlying cause of kidney energy imbalance. If you have hot flushes, 3pm slump, brain fog or anxiety it can all be to do with the temperature of your kidneys. This is why it's good to keep your food and drink at either room temperature or warmer.

When you're sat at a desk or you're out and about running around you may not realise that your lower back is cold, and you especially won't realise this if you're feeling hot. Most of the time when you register that you're hot it's from the chest to the head and in chinese medicine we call it a false heat; this means it comes out of a cold condition. Wearing a Haramaki (aka belly warmer) keeps your kidneys that bit warmer. It doesn't need to cost you a penny! You can just wrap a hoody or scarf around your middle if you're sat down or cut a too tight T shirt and wear it under your clothes. It's about trapping in your own body heat around your kidneys so you want something that fits snuggily to trap your natural heat.

This is what my client Beverly said about her Haramaki experience after reading my blog on the 3pm slump:

"As somebody who struggles daily with fatigue and often by sweatin​g; I took note about a Haramaki! ​I thought it seemed counter-intuitive to keep warm when I was experiencing sweating​ but I decided to give it a go.

I'm so glad that I did​! ​

Now I have many more hours in ​the day to enjoy with the ability to get through the afternoon without wishing it were bed time! So convinced am I by the benefits of keeping my kidneys warm that I have now invested in a ​Haramaki and wear it everywhere, even to bed​. At work ( I'm office based) I also tie my fleece around my waist for extra protection and can honestly say that I no longer struggle with brain fog or sweating after lunch. "

Keeping your kidneys warm regulates your body temperature and gives you back some much needed energy - just grab a hoody or a fluffy scarf and tie it around your waist!

8. Lighten the load on your liver

Christmas and winter in general can put more duress on your liver. Heavy carby foods, chocolates, sweet treats, desserts and alcohol all turn to sugar which makes your liver work harder and this can lead to night sweats. Plus itchy skin or skin breakouts, feeling nauseous, getting more irritable and snappy are all symptoms that your liver is struggling.

Deciding on your quality of food and drink choices helps but to really feel the difference you could do with taking a daily liver support supplement to help it cleanse itself more effeciently; check out my free supplements download here for the right liver supplement to help you.

Your liver is like an oil filter in a car, something to be maintained so that it works well for you in the longterm, a struggling liver is the root cause of a lot of disease as well as menopause symptoms. The long term health benefits of keeping your liver running smoothly are immeasurable. Something to think more on in the new year but for now give your liver some TLC!

9. Embrace greens

This will help your liver run more smoothly as it loves green things as they help detox your blood. You may already be a Smoothy Queen and that's great but if you're not that's okay too you just need to get some more leafy veg into your evening meal and across the day where possible. Cabbage, broccoli, kale, spring greens, asparagus sprouts! They're all really beneficial and yes they taste bitter, that's what the liver loves. It also loves apples and lemon and lime too. Lemon (or lime) water first thing in the morning helps flush out last nights toxins so this is a great start to help lighten the load on your liver.

If you're having stews or curries or any evening meal with a pinch of spice you can hide your greens in with it. You don't have to have potatoes, rice or pasta on a daily basis, you'll feel better and sleep better if you reduce them. Slice your greens, steam them gently so they don't get soggy and mix them in with your tasty dinner.

woman relaxing by wood burning stove

10. Hygge it up!

I think we've got pretty good at Hygging it up in recent years if the lounge wear section in the supermarket is anything to go by. But if you've missed the whole Hygge movement its definiton is: creating a quality of cosiness that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being. This is done through stripping back and simplyfying things, embracing the basics. Dress warm, enjoy a wintery walk in nature, come home to a hearty stew, play a board game by candlelight, enjoy the company of those around you but retreat to your bed and get some quiet time and extra sleep when ever you want it!

Maybe Hygge equals hibernation!

This shouldn't sound boring to you especially not at this time of year. If you're not wanting to embrace the hibernation energy that's coming you're more than likely stuck in a stress loop, where your body is in fight or flight too much of the time, and you can't relax. Tired but wired is a very real state you can get stuck in and it's not a state that allows your body to heal. When you have the chance for down time think of ways that you can help your mind and body slow down so that it can start to recouperate.

11. Your mood is what your food is

So you've woken on the wrong side of the bed and bitten your hubbies head off, or you're at work feeling a dread of imposter syndrome or you've lost your confidence to do things?Much of this can be attributed to what you ate yesterday! I know sounds crazy right? Let me explain: The food you ate yesterday is in your gut and then makes the nutrients to run your brain and body. Your brain chemistry is made in your gut (around 90% of it!) so if the food you ate yesterday isn't great then you have the key to changing this!

Get some veggies in, whether as a smoothie (at room temperature) or a thick soup at lunchtime and take your vitamins and minerals and you'll start to feel better. Sometimes you may have forgotten your supplements and that's why you're feeling the difference. No matter, just get back in there, put the goodnes back into your gut and let it start making some positive body chemistry. You'll feel the difference in a matter of hours.

Your gut maybe impaired this means it doesn't have a good variety of bacteria. It's been proven that a poor gut microbiome means you find it harder to lose weight and explains everything from low immunity to brain fog. Help your gut bacteria out by taking a good probiotic, I use Microbz it's the best on the market with at least 15 strains of live bacteria ready to repopulate your gut immediately. Also it's liquid and this is important as it then starts the moment you swish it around your mouth, say goodbye to everything from gum disease to body odour as well as a many other positives.

selfcare book by Claire Chamberlain
The most gorgeous little book of support you can hope for!

12. Reframe your time off

Ever noticed how all the Christmas songs stop on the radio after Christmas day? That used to really annoy me because Christmas was only just beginning for me as I'd worked till the last minute; I felt cheated. As of December 1st the radio is playing a Christmas track every 10 mins and you'll find yourself bopping around the Supermarket to a 70s classic (don't fight it go with it!) so get in the Christmas spirit early - embrace the season up to the big day. Many of us when we're older feel dissappointed by December 25th as it's not magical if you don't have young kids any more; so let's reframe it.

You've probably run yourself ragged in the run up to your Christmas break (well done you if you haven't) so make the most of your Christmas break as though it's YOUR TIME for rest and relaxation.

You've just done a long slog with no break for a couple of months and if you don't recharge over your Christmas break then it's another long haul to your next holiday time. So many people fall ill with bugs by March because they're exhausted. Don't be that person! Use Boxing day onwards as your retreat, your spa break! Sleep in, get some really good fresh air evey day, take those leisurely baths, eat hearty and nutritious and then get back to bed early. It really can be exhausting relaxing because your body wants to recharge, you've flicked the switch and it's in a healing state so it'll appreciate the shut down for a few very beneficial days.

woman and dog walking in a snowy forest

Are you ready to prioritise you?

I'm passionate about helping you have the best menopause transition possible and it all starts with you deciding enough is enough, it's time I take care of myself. If you don't do it, who will?

You don't have to wait until New Year, if you always set a future deadline as to when you're start something, something else will always get in the way.

You can start today, change starts in the moment that you decide it does. Don't put a false goal post on change, make the decision that is right for you right now!

The ways you can make change!

I have an extensive self help area that offers guides, programmes and books and you can find them all here.

But here are some of the starting point highlights:

Read Understanding Your Menopause - an easily to follow book (in paperback) that helps you make beneficial changes one step at a time.

Go Getter Starter Pack - this is for you if you're fired up and ready to make changes right now!

If you're struggling, or need accountability or just love getting that one to one attention (I know I do) then how about working with me, check all my options out and we'll take it one step at a time.

Meet Andrea

Andrea is a shiatsu and chinese medicine practitioner who uses the principles of chinese medicine in a completely practical way to help you resolve your symptoms naturally and effectively. If you live locally you can book in for wonderfully relaxing Shiatsu for Menopause, otherwise Andrea does online indepth consultations where you'll leave with an actionable plan to follow. Andrea is also passionate about doing workplace talks.

Andrea Marsh founder Cotswold Menopause

Using the wisdom of chinese medicine for a happy menopause today



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Beware Menopause-branded supplements

There is very little scientific backing on most of the supplements that are currently flooding the market at present - you are being sold to; you are being promised that this one pill will solve everything. I look at the ingredients and percentages of all supplements that I'm notified about or come across. Do not believe any menopause expert endorsement; I don't know who these women are.


The menopause experts that I trust don't endorse any of the products I've looked at. Some supplements will help with some symptoms; it's better if the supplement is targeted to a small set of symptoms that are linked; it's more likely to be effective.  They can be a good starting place but over time will become less effective; don't be disheartened it's likely that they don't have enough dosage in for what you now need. I have a Starter Supplement Guide that  explains what you need and why you need it i effective levels to help relieve your symptoms naturally.

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