Five years ago at age 43, Janice Mitchell-Hurowitz knew she was making “a change” but had no idea she would be dealing with “the change” at the same time. A stay-at-home mom in the Long Island city of Plainview, NY, Mitchell-Hurowitz decided that her children were old enough that it was time for her to follow her own passion. She’d always wanted to be an esthetician, so she went to school, got her certification and found a job. She still wanted to be available to her family, so she was busy! But in between servicing her facial clients and getting the laundry done at home, she couldn’t help noticing that her body was beginning to signal that, like it or not, menopause was on the way.
“Women have tolerance for so much because we’re nurturers,” Mitchell-Hurowitz says. “Often to keep the family going, we put ourselves last. When menopause arrives, you have to stop and take care of yourself.”
Today, Mitchell-Hurowitz works four days a week, taking clients through her business, J. Lynn Skin Care, as well as working in various salons as a freelance esthetician. Her menopause is in full swing with night sweats and mood swings, but she’s learned to adapt. To begin, she took the temperature on the big-picture aspect of her life.
“Menopause makes you reevaluate what you’re doing with your life,” she observes. “You look at your marriage and your relationships in general, your career, how you treat people and how you want to be treated. You look more closely at whether you’re the person you want to be. I know that I love what I do—giving to other people through my esthetics work and being productive outside the home. But it takes away from my husband, three sons and two dogs! Juggling all of that is not easy when you’re not feeling on top of your game all of the time. Your brain is going a little crazy, because the hormones fluctuate, so it’s hard to deal with things.”
If, like Mitchell-Hurowitz, you’re a salon professional trying to work through your hot flashes and moodiness, she offers some recommendations:
Meditate. “Meditation is extremely helpful and yet underused in our society,” Mitchell-Hurowitz says. “It doesn’t have to take long, and you don’t have to light incense and figure out mantras. Just do a little controlled, deep breathing for even five or ten minutes twice a day. There are tutorials on YouTube! When you wake up, sit up in bed, take deep breaths and clear your head. Affirm to yourself that you will not let menopause get in your way today. It truly is helpful. Then before you go to bed, repeat the deep breathing; you may find that you sleep a lot better!”
No caffeine after 3 p.m. Step away from that coffee machine! “The whole key to managing menopause is getting good sleep,” Mitchell-Hurowitz. Before menopause, you likely recharged in the afternoon with coffee or soda. Instead, grab a piece of fruit like a banana for a quick burst of energy. “You can have decaffeinated herbal teas,” Mitchell-Hurowitz adds. “A glass of wine is okay, but if you have it late at night it will interrupt your sleep.”
Exercise and eat well. “Do what you love,” Mitchell-Hurowitz advises. If that’s the treadmill, great. But if you love dancing or gardening or bowling, do it! “Sometimes I take my camera along on a walk through beautiful woods, and I take pictures,” Mitchell-Hurowitz says. “I can’t believe how much exercise I do now compared with how little I used to do!” Fill moments in your day that you’re not using with movement—take a walk in the 20 minutes you have between clients, or do pushups against the wall while you’re watching TV.
Keep water handy at work. “I work with steam, which can make hot flashes worse or even trigger them,” Mitchell-Hurowitz says. “I keep ice cold water nearby and sneak sips while the towel is over the client’s face!”
Communicate. Mutual understanding is important, Mitchell-Horowitz notes. Let your family know what this is like for you, and especially clear the air with your salon owner. “When it comes down to it, the business has to be run,” Mitchell-Horowitz says. “But if a salon owner wants to keep her staff, everything should be agreed to and discussed openly. You can’t expect the owner to say, ‘You don’t feel like coming in today? Well, then, don’t come in!’ No owner can do that. And you can’t ask the owner to keep the air conditioning on full blast all the time. But you can expect some understanding if you need to run out for a breath of air. Owners should respect the seasoned staffers in this industry; the people who have been in the industry the longest are among the best.”
Mitchell-Hurowitz urges you to give yourself a break. You’re already sweating enough—no point sweating the small stuff!
“Play hard, work hard, make the changes you want to make and then just be as positive as you can,” she advises. “Keep learning new things; stay on top of everything that’s new in our industry. Stay current in your wardrobe. Don’t feel like an old person! That will help you get through menopause, because it’s not easy! But understand that you’re not going crazy. Everything you’re experiencing is part of the process.”
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