I tried the following techniques to balance my hormones and feel better. Though I was hoping for fast results, it took about five months to feel like my old self again. The results are that my body pain is gone (as long as I continue daily stretching and movement), my sleep is up to 7.5 hours per night, anxiety is diminished but not eliminated, and I lost five pounds.
I wish I knew exactly which of the remedies were the ones that “worked.” The acupuncture? The meditation? Massage? Belly breathing? Getting back in the gym? Not eating take-out? Better sleep habits? Maybe I’ll never know. But I’m now a much better caretaker of my over-40 body.
Even if all it does is make me lie still and calm down for an hour, it’s worth it. (For the record, I believe it does more than that.) At my community acupuncture spot, I was also given cupping treatments and Chinese herbs for reducing anxiety and bloating.
2. Lymphatic and sweat sessions at Shape House
Lymphatic treatments involve lying down in an acupressure suit that mechanically presses points to assist lymphatic drainage. Sweat treatments help to detoxify the body. Both treatments are supposed to assist with water retention and muscle pain. They’re done in a private pod, and you can watch Netflix during your treatment.
I live in a state where cannabis is legal and found the right CBD/THC gummies to tame anxiety without psychedelic effects. (6 to 1 CBD to THC ratio).
4. Earlier dinners
I discovered it’s easier to sleep if I eat a very early meal, like 5 or 6 p.m., and let my system rest in the hours before bed.
Worked wonders for muscle aches and sleep. In particular, I recommend DC Labs’ Cal-Mag Z—they’re magical for soothing pain and helping you sleep.
6. Walking outdoors
I now take two big sunny nature walks per week with my dog.
7. Better sleep hygiene
I minimized screen-time after dusk and (mostly) wake at a consistent time each morning. I try to read instead of watching Netflix before bed (but tbh, Schitt’s Creek, What We Do in the Shadows, and the doc-series Abstract are in my back pocket). I splurged on silk PJs to signal to myself that it was bedtime (instead of falling asleep in my day-leggings like a scrub).
8. Cooking at home
I restarted my cooking routine, which includes weekly food prep such as roasting veggies, making bulk vegetable soup, hard-boiling eggs, cooking proteins, and making vegan overnight oats. This way, we don’t have to cook a ton on weeknights and do a lot less takeout.
Helped with deeper sleep.
10. Reduced caffeine
I cut my coffee intake by about half and don’t drink it after noon.
I joined a gym and worked more steps into my daily routine (L.A. life is more car-based/sedentary than my walking-heavy, public-transit Chicago life).
12. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
I’m a big fan of this talk therapy focused on goals, values, and habits.
Gretchen Kalwinski, a former magazine editor, writes copy, fiction, and essays, most recently for Chicago: Rust Belt Anthology, published by Belt Publishing. She lives in Los Angeles and tweets sporadically @gretchel.
This story is part of Jumble & Flow’s Adventures in Perimenopause series.