Archive | November, 2018

Enduring the Change

27 Nov

Online quizzes are entertaining, and like many others, I too am vulnerable to clicking on these quizzes. They beckon you to take harmless challenges in the confines of your home where only you will know whether you are clueless or clued in on the subject being tested.

The other day I took a quiz on menopause and wasn’t quite surprised when I scored a whopping 98%.  I had to – I am in the thick of it, and paddling furiously through its agonising symptoms that currently dominate my life.

Two new accessories have taken a permanent place in all my handbags – a fresh napkin and a hand fan. Right in the middle of a conversation at work, I sometimes feel a burning sensation sweeping through my body which eventually intensifies, leaving the entire of me in a pool of sweat. People around me watch helplessly as I try hard to look attentive to whatever is happening while internally I’m dealing with ninety seconds of the intolerable heat that’s generated out of my body.

Night time presents its own set of challenges, with hot flashes and night sweats disrupting my sleep. Most of the night goes by in adjusting the temperature of the air conditioner or sipping cool water while the rest of the world sleep oblivious to my discomfort.

The joys of ageing don’t end here. Pounding of the heart, Anxiety and Mood swings – things that I never really related to, except in my teens are back with a bang.

I always thought it would be a happy thing to get rid of the painful five days of bleeding every month but now instead of five days I have thirty days of distress going on inside of me.

Doctors are clueless on how long the menopausal symptoms last. “Each woman’s journey is unique,” they say with that calm smile.  “Menopause doesn’t carry with it a fixed beginning or a fixed end period. It can be your guest and remain with you for as long as it likes”; which means I could go through years of hot flashes, crappy sleep, mood swings and selective weight gain.

I now have a stubborn bulge around my waist. It seems like the weight from my cheeks and everywhere else has concentrated around my waist by some gravitational effect.

My only favourite part of all of this is the savings I make by not buying any makeup anymore. What’s the use? With all the hot flashes, makeup don’t stay on my cheeks for more than 12 minutes. Am I glad that the sans make up look is trending these days!

After meeting numerous doctors and chatting with friends I’ve come up with a few tips I’ve used to help me tide through this midlife torment.

  • Go easy on yourself. Slow down and accept these changes. Make them your ally. You don’t need to be a cranky menopausal woman. Take some time off to explore what works in addressing your symptoms.
  • Sometimes binge watching your favourite show helps when you are in a crummy mood.
  • Make physical exercise a part of your daily routine. Getting off your car/bus at an earlier stop and walking back home or Joining a dance class or climbing a flight of stairs can help even the busiest of us to weave exercise into our day.
  • Avoiding hot drinks, spicy food and sipping a lot of cool water helped me manage my hot flashes in small way.
  • If you have trouble sleeping – take a few catnaps during the day.
  • You are not the only one who needs to understand the symptoms of your menopause. Very many times your family and co-workers may be flummoxed by your moods and forgetfulness. Talk to them about menopause – tell them about how you feel physically and emotionally so they can understand and support you in this new chapter of your life. You don’t need to suffer silently.
  • If you are someone who experiences palpitations or pounding of the heart, then it helps to sit down, relax and slowly take a few deep breaths. Visit a doctor to make certain that your palpitations are only due to menopause.
  • Put yourself at the top of your ‘To-Do’ list. Take care of yourself and your health. Take time out to think of what ‘you want’ as opposed to what ‘you must’. Reflect on what you value the most and live that life.
  • Lean onto the amazing bond we have with our tribe. Meet up with girlfriends to share experiences or to vent or to give advice or learn about ‘going through menopause’. Although a taboo subject, I’ve learnt that it helps to talk about the transition you are going through.

Menopause is a journey every woman needs to take and while one goes through it …it seems eternal.

All the symptoms we feel are not ‘just in our heads’; They are very real.

All the same it need not be all misery. Accepting that it is a natural stage of life has made me view it as a time to make changes in my lifestyle, and look inwards. And although the world at large may never understand my hormones working like gremlins, I know that as long as I hang in there and embrace it for whatever it offers, I’ll be fine.





Why Assertiveness is an Important Skill for Children.

22 Nov

Educators and parents both agree that assertiveness is a vital skill children need to have.

Yet many a time its they themselves who discourage the development of this critical skill because they tend to confuse assertiveness with independence or being defiant or having an attitude.

Assertiveness involves stating your opinion or needs, standing up for yourself or protecting your rights in a way that’s respectful of the rights of the other person.

Like any other learnt skill, assertiveness needs an environment where parents and educators are not only willing to allow it but also recognise its benefits.

Before you begin to teach assertiveness, you need to examine your own attitude towards it.

If you as a parent, believe you know what’s best, prefer obedience, don’t like giving explanations or letting children disagree with you then teaching assertiveness is not an easy task.

Some parents believe that its okay to be assertive with peers but with adults it is seen as disrespectful.

Consider a situation where your child needs to stand up to an authority figure who is goading him/her for an unreasonable demand. Your child needs to protect himself and do so with conviction. A child trained to never question an authority figure, will find it difficult to assertively stand up for himself.

A home where children are encouraged to ask questions and parents are willing to explain and engage in discussion, is one where a child feels safe and confident enough to express her opinion, be it to adults or peers.

Standing up to a bully or not giving in to peer demands or even being able to express his/her opinion when needed, requires your child to stand her ground and communicate clearly and fearlessly in a non hostile fashion.

There are a few ways to teach children how to be assertive.

Model assertive behaviour.

In your interactions with family members or friends let your child watch you being assertive.

Using I messages.

Sometimes you need to explicitly teach your child how to stand up for himself or ask for something he/she needs.

If your child is frustrated that someone is taking advantage of him/her, then you could teach him how to show assertiveness by communicating his/her feelings using ‘I’ messages like …I feel [state the feeling] when you [state the behaviour that’s bothering you]. For eg I feel annoyed when you constantly tease me

Teach him that body language and the way you speak matter. – Making eye contact, keeping your tone calm and audible enough and speaking slowly make ones communication more effective.

Remind him /her to express his feelings constructively.

Encourage children to role play assertive behaviour until their responses becomes second nature.

Create teachable moments when children can re-enact a situation where they have been aggressive or passive, this time using assertive responses.

During this facilitation ask them how they felt while they were being assertive and link assertiveness to feeling good about oneself.

No doubt assertiveness isn’t an easy skill to learn, especially in a society where putdowns are considered funny and aggression is considered macho. All the same this is one skill that help children to interact with peers and adults in an honest and fruitful manner.

As parents and educators let us assist children in learning to use their voice to change a situation, protect themselves, state their opinion or make a request