Finding Connection in Menopause and How to Build a Supportive Community
Updated: Nov 8
As we age it can sometimes feel as if we are drifting away from the people and places that once made us, us.
As our children grow up, as our friends disperse, as colleagues change roles or organisations and as our hobbies evolve, the daily or weekly ties of community can easily slip away. Add in a couple of years of pandemic, and it’s not a surprise that our sense of belonging has faded.
But the truth is, community remains more important than ever, especially as we navigate through menopause.
One of the key aspects of getting the best out of menopause revolves around creating a supportive network that will make all the difference in our everyday lives.
So why might community be so important during menopause?
On a really basic level, as we go through menopause, our hormones fluctuate and decrease.
One of these fluctuating hormones, oestrogen, in turn, leads to a drop in another hormone, oxytocin.
This hormone, often known as the love hormone, is what makes us feel attachment and love, for example, to our children or pets.
Don't let lowered oxytocin get you down
A drop in oxytocin during menopause can be responsible for us sometimes feeling detached from the things we love. Knowing that this happens, and instead of allowing ourselves to feel detached, we can create or maintain a sense of connection with others as an important part of moving through such a tricky stage.
A community, whether in person or online can help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, particularly those associated with feeling alone in our menopause journey.
Equally, as we age, without extra attention and effort, our social circles often tend to get smaller. By consciously building a community of people around us, we create a sense of friendship, belonging and togetherness that is comforting, joyous and empowering.
Beyond good vibes, community also provides practical benefits, especially when it comes to advice and support from people sharing a similar experience. Likewise, being able to turn to a friend when things are tricky can make all the difference between soldiering on alone, or as part of a gang!
So, how can we go about finding or creating community as we go through menopause?
And does that community have to be about menopause?
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Join a club
Yes, you might not have done this for many many years, and it might feel very much out of your comfort zone but find a club or organisation that either aligns with your interests or offers an activity which interests you.
Whether it's a writing club, a walking group, or planting trees in the local area, finding a community of people who share your passions or approach to life can be a great way to start feeling like part of a group. You don’t need to be an expert, and you don’t have to talk about menopause!
Get familiar with your neighbourhood
Look out for local events to go along to.
All neighbourhoods offer something: be it a summer fete, a concert or just a meeting at the village hall. Becoming part of the local community brings you into immediate contact with those neighbours you might never have met.
In the modern world of Zoom meetings and international travel, joining the local community might feel twee but it’s a surefire way to help you feel more at home, wherever you are.
Learn something new
You don’t need to go back to school, but learning a new skill or subject is a wonderful way of building a network of people around yourself. It almost doesn’t matter what it is - art might be a tad cliche but there is great conversation to be had while washing brushes!
You don’t even have to learn something new - taking a class to rediscover a subject from your school days might be just the ticket. The shared experience of learning together will bring you together in a very satisfying way.
Start your own
What if there is nothing nearby? You could always consider starting your own group or organisation if nothing takes your fancy. It could be something as simple as a menopause social (yes, they exist, and yes they are wonderful - in fact, that’s how I got started building my own community!) a Womens’ Institute or just a monthly walking group.
Creating your own group puts you right in the centre - only do this if you won’t find it stressful though!
Dig out your phone book
Sometimes, all you might need is a chat with an old friend. We all have them - friends who mean the world to us, but that we never get round to calling. Yes, it might have been a while, but they do want to hear from you.
Picking up the phone and having a chat can lead to all sorts of togetherness.
Set up a Whatsapp group
If you can never find the time to meet up with those important to you, consider setting up a group of friends in whatsapp. There’s nothing quite like the hilarity of a shared joke with people that you love. A whatsapp group makes it easy to drop a quick ‘hi, here’s my dog’ message without committing to a meet up or schedule.
The Old Favourite, Facebook
Yes, Facebook might not be the coolest social media on the block, but groups in Facebook are a wonderful to connect with people. Our Menopause Social Hangout group on Facebook is a great way to join in conversations about menopause, ask questions, or even just loiter around the edges without contributing.
There are lots of ways to build a community around you, and these suggestions are simply that: ideas to help you find something that works for you.
The key to this aspect of menopause is to remember that while you might not feel like you need a community, or you might not yet feel any need anyone else, the simple truth is we all need a community around us. Take some time to find yours, however slowly, and you’ll be glad you did.
With love and community,
Your Coach, Trainer and Speaker