When was the last time you thought about your mindset? The type of mindset we embrace matters greatly in midlife as we tackle peri-menopause and menopause.
I know what you are thinking, just one more thing to do. But truly if we are seeking change or improvement and ultimately want to leave some beliefs and habits behind, knowing and improving our mindset is key.
Based on the work of Carol Dweck, mindset is a belief or a reoccurring thought. It truly drives you capacities and, essentially, it is a person’s usual attitude or mental state. I personally love and have read this book by Ms. Dweck, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.“
If you are a woman in midlife, you have certainly recognized that hormonal changes cause a list of unwelcome symptoms. Having the drive to tackle the symptoms that are slowing you down takes a comprehensive approach to improve how you feel. Recognizing whether you embrace a fixed or growth mindset is a good place to start. The good news is that with some work and support you can develop a growth mindset if you struggle with life’s challenges from a fixed mindset.
Fixed and Growth Mindsets
People either believe certain things are fixed or changeable when it comes to their mindset. Someone with a fixed mindset believes things are set in stone. They feel they are born with qualities like intelligence and talent, and these are not changeable. A person fortunate to have a growth mindset believes, even with challenges or failures, that they can work harder or differently to overcome these difficult times. A bit of a pollyanna, you might say. I try my best to live on the side of the road where I believe I can overcome most difficulties.
If you are unsure whether you have a growth or fixed mindset, ask yourself some questions. Do you believe you are capable of changing who you are? Or do you feel you can learn new things and improve your intelligence even as you get older?
Knowing if you have a fixed or growth mindset becomes more clear when difficulties present themselves. Being uncomfortable when a challenge arises is normal, but someone with a fixed mindset tends to run away or even uses substances to relieve the discomfort. We’ve all done this at some point.
But over time, situations have to be dealt with. It’s certainly not always fun to face the stress of a situation and the work involved in changing it. Staying stuck and in denial is common, but it’s important to challenge yourself to want better. Many women I work with admit that when it comes to midlife, they felt they had to accept all the changes. It’s important to challenge this mindset and recognize that healthy lifestyle choices will improve your health even as you are aging.
Hormones and our Brains During Menopause
Due to hormonal changes in midlife, many women report a host of changes in their mental health. Drops in estrogen levels not only impact our reproduction but also affect our brain function. Many of us report forgetfulness, loneliness, increased anxiety and even depression. Lack of sleep and increased worry make these conditions worse. Slowing down, prioritizing sleep and managing stress will help. Talking to your healthcare provider about hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may also be necessary.
Embracing a growth mindset or, for some of us, challenging a fixed mindset will be necessary for change to happen. The way we move, nourish our bodies and minds, sleep habits we’ve gotten into and who we connect with need to be looked at. Even the conversations we need to have with our doctors may be difficult if we don’t believe we can change anything about our situation.
Day to day, we may not think much about our mindset. But once life ramps up and crappy times inevitably arrive, a growth mindset will be a true gift. Old beliefs about our health and current habits will naturally need to be challenged.
Five Ways to Create a Growth Mindset
If you have a growth mindset, you believe abilities can be learned and strengthened. Stressful events or just plain old aging will ultimately show up and test you. If you are a person with a growth mindset, you recognize you need to pivot and question choices that are no longer working for you. Old choices will start to fall away as they are discredited by new habits that help you feel better as you age. Here are some ways to remain in or embrace a growth mindset:
- Get curious about your beliefs. Change may need to happen.
- Listen to how your body responds with better decisions. Maybe it requires improved lifestyle choices, possible hormone replacement therapy (HRT), additional supplements and a change in how you are managing life’s stress.
- Incorporate small, positive changes into each day. Be proud of yourself. For more tips, check out my blog on habit change.
- Ask for the help and support you need when life gets too overwhelming.
- Focus on your successes. Don’t spend time comparing to other people’s successes. It’s a waste of time.
Be patient with yourself as you develop new habits to embrace a growth mindset. You are currently your own coach. Don’t be hard on yourself. Bullying does not help. You can be liberated or limited by how you think. Reach out to me if you would like to have a discussion around changing hormones, lifestyle choices, and how I can support you. You deserve to thrive and not just survive in midlife!
I’m a registered nurse for over 24 years with a Masters Degree in Nursing (Education). I am also a Certified Women’s Health Coach specializing in helping women navigate changing hormones in their 30s and beyond after my own difficult experience through menopause. I believe women should truly thrive in midlife and not just survive!