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The Power of Finding Your People During Menopause

community menopause Nov 21, 2023

Community and camaraderie make this time of life happier, healthier, and just plain better.

 

By Selene Yeager

 

When it comes to health and happiness during and beyond the menopause transition, we hear a lot about hormone therapy, proper nutrition, exercise, adaptogens, sleep…the list goes on. All of that is important, for sure. But one of the most powerful predictors of how we feel—and how well we age—is community, our relationships, and a sense of belonging, which is something many active women in midlife and menopause say they’re missing.

 

I hear it all the time, especially when we have our performance retreats or when I meet women at races or other athletic events. So many say the same thing: “I’m just looking to connect with people like me.” “It’s nice to be around other women like me.” “I really need to find like-minded women. I feel alone a lot of the time.”

 

That sense of social isolation isn’t good for us. Research finds that our sense of well-being is higher when we have belonging and connectedness with others. A strong sense of belonging to a community is linked to improved mental and physical health. People with stronger social bonds have lower risks of many of the diseases and conditions we worry about (especially at menopause), such as heart disease, dementia, stroke, depression, and anxiety.

 

For menopausal women specifically, research finds that women who have a social network tend to be more positive about menopause and are less likely to be depressed. Those who participate in formal social groups are also more likely to be physically active and have less severe menopausal and depressive symptoms.

 

As gerontologist Zora Benhamou explained during Hit Play Not Pause episode 107 Find Your Menopause Five -The Power of Human Connection in Menopause, more than diet, exercise, genes, and money, having strong, positive relationships keeps you healthier and happier. “People who are most happy in their relationships at 50, were the healthiest at age 80,” she said.

 

Find Your People!

 

That’s all to say that in a world that is trying to sell us saunas, cold plunges, menopausal mushroom-blends, and assorted wellness goods and tech (which to be clear, may all have benefits), finding and spending time with friends will likely yield far more meaningful health and wellness gains in the long run than many of those things combined.

 

That said, we also realize it can be harder to find friends in adulthood, so here are some tips to help you find your people.

 

Join an online group.

 

Meeting up with friends in person is always best, but don’t underestimate the power of a good online community. For one, you’ll know right away you’re not alone when you see literally hundreds, thousands, or maybe even tens of thousands of women who are all going through many of the same challenges. These groups can be both supportive and informative, allowing you to ask questions or share struggles you might not feel comfortable bringing up in other circles. Plus, there’s a good chance there are members in your region who you can plan to meet up with to hike, run, ride, or otherwise hang out with in real life. (We have 27,000 active women in our Hit Play Not Pause Facebook group if you’re looking for a place to start.)

 

Sign up for events.

 

I did my first Spartan race a couple of weeks ago along with a half dozen other midlife women, a couple of whom had never done anything like this, and who felt out of their element and felt they were “sub-optimal” compared to what they imagined all the athletes would be like. Then they showed up and saw lots of women who were just like them, in midlife, with jobs and families, just wanting a fun challenge. By the time they crossed the finish line, they were glowing and within hours were texting each other about the next race they should do.

 

Many events like marathons, triathlons, and these Spartan races have associated communities, where you can join Facebook groups and find others in your area to train with. Often, all it takes to make a bunch of like-minded friends is to plug into an active community.

 

Take a Course.

 

There are lots of menopause courses available that not only provide education and information about all things peri and post menopause, but also offer the opportunity to connect with others either virtually or in real life. When researchers studied the benefits of these types of educational groups they found that the women involved enjoyed reduced symptoms and improved quality of life compared to women who didn’t participate.  

 

Reconnect with old friends.

 

We all have those old friends we’ve lost touch with as life moved us along. Social media makes it a snap to look them up and see what they’re up to these days. You might still have more in common than you think. They may even enjoy the same sports and activities you do now. Having someone with a shared history and current interests to connect with while navigating this time of life can be something really special.

 

Go on a retreat.

 

This isn’t a plug for our Feisty Menopause Performance Retreats (like the one that took place last week), but one of the reasons we created these events was to bring women together for a special time in a shared, safe space. If that’s not in the cards for you, you can always make one of your own! Go hiking, camping, kayaking or just hang out somewhere with a friend or two, where you can have time to talk, share experiences, and help each other out with any issues that are on your mind.

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