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Jan. 28, 2023

Clarissa Kristjansson - Menopause and Mindset

Clarissa Kristjansson - Menopause and Mindset

Are you a female entrepreneur who feels like they are losing their work-life balance now that you are in menopause? Would you like to discover how mindfulness can help you soothe the symptoms?
On this episode of the Wellness and Wealth podcast, Clarissa Kristjansson of The Little Breathing Space addresses the three stages of menopause. She’ll also share why 75% of the women in the US feel unheard when it comes to their menopause symptoms.
In this episode, Clarissa Kristjansson answers the following questions:
What does a positive mindset look like to her during menopause?
How did perimenopause change your career path?
What are the signs that menopause may be affecting female entrepreneurs' work and mindset?
What is the first step to helping yourself during perimenopause?

Are you a female entrepreneur who feels like they are losing their work-life balance now that you are in menopause? Would you like to discover how mindfulness can help you soothe the symptoms?

On this episode of the Wellness and Wealth podcast, Clarissa Kristjansson of The Little Breathing Space  addresses the three stages of menopause. She’ll also share why 75% of the women in the US feel unheard when it comes to their menopause symptoms. 

In this episode, Clarissa Kristjansson answers the following questions:

  • What does a positive mindset look like to her during menopause? 
  • How did perimenopause change your career path?
  • What are the signs that menopause may be affecting female entrepreneurs' work and mindset? 
  • What is the first step to helping yourself during perimenopause? 

Offer: An ebook, Beat Your Brain Fog

Link: https://thoughtful-composer-7694.ck.page/0aefd05a97

Episode Resources

Connect with Wendy Manganaro:

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Clarissa Kristjansson 

[00:00:00] Wendy Manganaro: Hi everyone. My name's Wendy Manganaro and I am the Host of the Wellness and Wealth podcast. I'm so happy to have you find us. And if you could take a moment and hit that subscribe button, I'd really appreciate it. This is the podcast where we believe when you show up better for yourself as a woman business owner, you show up better for your business. 

So sit back, relax. And learn from the practical to the woo-hoo, how to best take care of you. Have a great day. Stay blessed. And leave a review when you're done listening to the show, thanks so much. 

[00:00:38] Wendy: Hi everyone, our topic today is menopause and mindset. Our special guest today is Clarissa Kristjansson, and I'm gonna read her bio and then we'll get started with the show.

Clarissa Kristjansson PhD is an internationally recognized menopause educator and certified mindfulness and medical qigong practitioner, focused on the positive and transformative nature of menopause.

A neuroscientist and former corporate high flyer. Clarissa has 28 years of experience leading insight into behavioral. Her perimenopause experience set her on a different path to empower women through this transformational life stage, cracking opened the conversation about our beliefs and behaviors and shifting the collective mindset to see this menopause as an opportunity for reinvention and revitalization.

She's the host of the popular Thriving Through Menopause podcast, author of the bestsellers, the Mindful Menopause, and the Potent Power of Menopause a Globally diverse perspective of feminine transformation and creator of the Thriving through Menopause program. Welcome Clarissa. Thank you for coming on the show today.

Thank you so much for having me, Wendy. 

[00:01:55] Clarissa Krisjansson: I'm so delighted to be here and talk. I think I'm your first guest talking about menopause. 

[00:02:01] Wendy: You are. So as a woman whose figuring out she's going through it herself. So, so really excited about having you guys as a guest. And I've heard this before, is that women as they go through this, they don't realize the changes that are going through their body.

And part of the thing that I hear the most is they want keep up to what they could even do a few years ago and realize that things are different. So I'm so excited to get into this topic with you. 

[00:02:28] Clarissa Krisjansson: Good. 

[00:02:29] Wendy: So let's get right into it. I'd love to know what does a positive mindset look like to you during menopause?

Because that could mean different things to different people. 

[00:02:39] Clarissa Krisjansson: Well, of course, I think you're right there, Wendy. It is different things to different people and how we interpret it, but for me, I think it's firstly not buying into this age old narrative that our life is over this, is it menopause? I'm now old and I'm gonna be fading into invisibility.

I'm not attractive. I can't have a new career. And that is still very prevalent in the conversations that go out there. And, sadly there is a conversation going on. It's a deficiency and it's a syndrome. Well, I don't buy into that and I know some pretty high ranking scientists who know more about their biology even than I do, and they're.

That's not correct because it's not. So we need to think about this time as a transition. Not as an end it is, of course, it's an ending of one phase of our life and a transition to the next phase. But we do go through this change. We can manage it. There is information, there are people who can help us.

And so being positive is about really knowing that's it. And also knowing that even though it's hard, there is a kind of a finite it. This isn't the rest of our. and that we are incredibly able to be self-empowered at this time to make necessary changes that maybe we've been avoiding a bit , fixing our diet, fixing our lifestyle.

Those things we are pretty good at, saying, oh, get to that later, or just glossing it over. And somehow menopause shine or perimenopause, should I say, shine's a bit of a spotlight on it. No, you can't do what you did when you were 20. Now it's time to shape up, make changes that are going to help you have a much better quality of life when you are 60, 70, 80, 90.

[00:04:34] Wendy: Okay, and I do have this. Question that I think you'll probably be able to answer perfectly, which, because I didn't know about this as somebody who's going through it, and I don't know if every woman does, there are stages of menopause. I know we hear very much so of like, it's pre, it's post, it's menopause, but I think there's more stages in there that we don't naturally talk about.

And I'd love to pick Your brain on that, because women might not know they're going through it because. They're not old enough to be in Premenopause.

[00:05:04] Clarissa Krisjansson: So let's get those sort of stages.

So premenopause, you are not having any hormonal fluctuations. That's you beyond what we have every month, right? So that's our normal. But we go into this phase called perimenopause, and this is when our hormones initially start fluctuating and then they decline. We have progesterone, which is the one that goes pretty wacky in that phase to start with and why we feel so rocked and we sense our stress and then our estrogen declines and both of them decline.

And we do also lose testosterone, which surprisingly women make more of than they even do estrogen. Most women don't realize that. So that is the perimenopause, and we have what we call menopausal symptoms at those stages. So the hot flashes, the weight gain, the goodness only knows what, like the tinnitus and the itchy skin and the anxiety and the mood changes.

That's what's happening in peri-menopause. And commonly you'll be somewhere in your mid forties, but you could be 35. And of course, there are women who have early menopause, so that could be happening much earlier. Then you go into menopause, and although we use that as an encompassing term in technically it is one day, 12 months after your last period.

So if you haven't had a period for 12 months, you can, and you don't have one after that, then you've gone through menopause and you are in the next stage, which is post-menopause, where you'll stay right to the end of your days. 

[00:06:48] Wendy: So that's really interesting because I must be in the Perry. But anyway, . Cause I'm always like, it's gone.

It's back again. What is this? Anyway, I get very excited and then disappointed quickly. But that's really interesting to understand though, this idea that it's one day, it's just this year thing. And I don't know about everybody else. I don't actually know unless we get more mindful about this

individually is would we know necessarily if we've had it for a year and not a year? 

[00:07:18] Clarissa Krisjansson: We can be in Perry for years. Wendy, some women are in Perry for three or four years. Some women are in it for 15 and we don't know. There are lots of different factors why we could be there for 15 odd years, but there we are.

But then menopause is this way, and do we know that we've had one period and haven't had one for another for since 12 months? Probably not. You suddenly go somewhere and think, oh, it's been a long time since I had a period, and we probably don't mark the day, to be honest. And we don't know.

I think a lot of us have drifted into the post-menopause and then it's dawned on us. What I would say is that in post-menopause, your hormones are still declining. Particularly your E your estron is still going down and to its resting different form, which will be how your body then produces small amounts of sufficient estrogen for your body to do its basic functions.

[00:08:20] Wendy: So let me ask you, while we're talking about the scientific side of this so in your experience, because you hear a lot on the market, like take all natural stuff for hormonal changes, take medication. What's the best thing for a woman who's going through this to do during this kind of up and down as far as the medication, non-medication type of question. 

[00:08:47] Clarissa Krisjansson: Yeah, that's very individual, Wendy. Each of us has the experience. We have. My menopause perimenopause doesn't look like yours. Doesn't look like the woman who lives next door to me because we've got lots of different factors.

And so it's not really we're in one camp or another, and I push along with a number of other people very hard against this kind of binary approach because it's not very helpful and it's not realistic. There are definitely women who have a really difficult time and hormone therapy administered by a real clinician with expert in this area is

I would say pretty non-optional for those people. And there can be a range of reasons why they're there, that can range from past trauma to their current medical conditions, to genetics. We don't know the whole makeup. On the other hand, there are lots of women who are being coerced and I would say even bullied and shamed into taking medication they don't need.

And I think a good rule of thumb, which is what we see in the North American. British menopause, Australian menopause and other societies around the world is that the majority of women should have the option to have hormone therapy, but it isn't essential for a lot of women. But diet and lifestyle and certain supplementation will all make a huge impact.

If you eat badly and you don't move and you don't sleep well, you are going to be well, whether you're in perimenopause or not. let's just, be open about that. But we do need to think about supporting our health and wellbeing differently. And so there are some really good things from the natural menopause world that we can pull across, really support us going through this time of life. 

Well, and I think it's this, making your own plan is very important and being knowledgeable is important. Your own knowledge. 

[00:10:52] Wendy: And usually with doctors, that's what my thing is, your body. So it's good for you to speak up either way. So in your experience, cuz you're just talking about what it would look like to you versus somebody else would be different.

What sent you on a different path when you're talking about your perimenopause experience? Because I see your background and I'm sure this is not what you did all your life. So what was that happened? 

[00:11:16] Clarissa Krisjansson: I really had a very difficult perimenopause and there were lots of contributing factors.

But when I listed my symptoms the other day on Instagram, people were going, oh my God, were you even alive? But I had quite a lot of anxiety and I have to say that I was someone who'd lived with anxiety prior to that, and then it really rarely reared its head during this time and I had some panic attacks.

I had heart palpitations and my blood pressure was off the Richter scale, and eventually I had some incidences at work and I realized that I needed to look at the way I was living and that was the really the trigger point of me changing my lifestyle and that changing my lifestyle led me to wanting to change my career direction.

And I became a mindfulness practitioner and I found it incredibly helpful to go to mindfulness because I realized, first of all, I'm not the only person who has these issues. And there was someone here who listened to me. Now, Tim Goddard, who ran that mindfulness training, was a psychotherapist as well.

So I'm a big advocate of therapy, if that's what you need, and it started to change my relationship to stress. And I think when you are mindful, you then start thinking, what's my diet look like? How am I working out? And those things led me to changing the nutrition. I did. I worked with a nutritionist.

I started to have acupuncture, which is how I got into Chi, because my acupuncturist kept telling me to go, and so I started to put together things that work better for me. And suddenly I was sleeping. I'd lost weight. My blood pressure came down to being very normal. I have a very low dose medication, not what the doctor prescribed, which was said, you're gonna be on this and it'll go up for the rest of your life instead.

That's not true. And I just felt happier and healthier, and I'm really, I thought, I'm really over corporate. I really can't do this anymore. The stress and strain of this job, and I wasn't enjoying it. And I think thats possibly also what happens to us as women, we stop enjoying corporate, we start to see all the things that bug us about it.

[00:13:46] Wendy: Yes, I agree with you. And I left nonprofit. It was a corporate ran nonprofit, so I understand that. I am curious though, during this time that you're going through all of. Are you going to the doctors? Are they mentioning that this could be it? Or are you starting to do your own research based on something's just not right and it's getting worse?

[00:14:09] Clarissa Krisjansson: Yeah. I did my own research. That's how I came to, this is where I'm at, this is what's happening to me. And by that time I was working with other women and doing mindfulness space, stress reduction and pain management, them, and they were all talking. And I'm thinking, they're like me. What's going on? And then suddenly this M word emerges.

And I thought, now that is what women are experiencing. But my doctor, well, she gaslight me most of the time, which is sadly very true. And I think the latest statistic I saw for the US was that 75% of women will go to a doctor for help and won't get any. 

[00:14:52] Wendy: Wow. That's a large number of women in the U.S. 

 So, for me, every time I go they're like, we'll do a blood test. Your blood work is normal. This is all, I always hear this, which is good. I'm a childhood cancer survivor, so I always want my blood to be into normal ranges.

But could you talk about that or have you experienced this where normal still doesn't feel normal to you? What they're seeing on a lab report that does? And learning how to listen to that, because I think that's a big part of what we're talking about.

[00:15:22] Clarissa Krisjansson: It is a big part. So firstly, let me say very openly that there is no test for menopause and though there are people selling you tests, For a lot of money, they will not definitively tell you, you are in menopause and your blood work might look perfectly okay, but you are still going through a hormonal change.

And the way we measure that is through our symptoms. So we will notice. That you haven't slept. We might notice that we've put on weight, but we're not eating any more and we're not exercising any less. We can feel tired, we can feel anxious, so we should be paying attention to the symptoms and tracking and monitoring those and understanding sometimes why something happens.

So if you've been drinking alcohol, for example, you might notice that you get an extra bad night's sleep or you get very hot and flushed if you suddenly out of nowhere develop rosacea. Where's that coming from? If you've never had it before, or you suddenly feel very tender in your body, notice those things.

When are they happening in the month? Do they last? Are they linked to food, drink, exercise, stressful situations? And those are the things you talk to a qualified doctor who understands this is what's happening to me. Could I be in perimenopause? And they usually will be able to answer yes, no. And then do I need help?

Support what? Help support, can you give me.

[00:17:11] Wendy: And that makes a lot of sense. And as you're talking about those symptoms and a lot of them more the physical things, but, how does that affect that, that mental health piece, that emotional piece during the para menopause where you feel like you're like going through, as you're talking about mindset, these almost.

I don't know how to us to say it other than you get really honest and you really don't care. which I've met those older people where you're like, oh my gosh, they have no filter, and you're kind of jealous. Because they're just. Who they are now. But for those people who are getting reactions around them because they're going through these emotional ups and downs, can you describe what they may look like and what really is happening to us during that time?

[00:18:01] Clarissa Krisjansson: Yeah, sure, Wendy. Well, the first thing I would say to anybody out there is a really good thing I heard from a psychiatrist was our brains are in menopause five years before. Our bodies are so whoa. We will experience huge, measurable brain changes because of the changes in our hormones. It the decline, fluctuation, and decline of our hormones affects our emotional regulation.

Hence why we get quite outspoken. We can feel very, we can become depressed or anxious, and that's a serious issue for women. Who are experiencing that, and if that's part of your history, then that needs to be taken more care of. We also get brain fog. And I think that's one of, when we come to talk more about entrepreneurs, that's one of the difficult aspects when we can't remember.

We lose a lot of our verbalization skills are cognitive, skills are down and those things. And so we have what I call psychological distress going on that is impacting our brain. Now, the good thing on the other side is that it's temporary. And what we are now seeing is that as the hormones settle, our brains do an upgrade.

And we become, far more quick short circuit. We don't have all this multitasking going on. A lot of those things disappear and we do become slightly outspoken and maybe a little disagreeable at times. That probably just means that we've stripped away all the nice people pleasing that we've done way too much of in our early years, and now we can just be ourselves.

[00:19:50] Wendy: That's so funny that you mentioned the brain fog, because I know for me, I'm like, that word is there and I, oh, it's an interesting little thing where you're like, I know the word. I've used the word my whole entire life, and suddenly it is not there it's just gone and I've got a new word.

 But it's good to talk about these things and just for the same reason that we have the show though, I like talking about this because I think that what happens is there's women in general, whether it's self-care and we think we're being selfish, or we're having all of this happen to our bodies and we're like, are we going crazy?

It's good to have these conversations because what happens is we go, oh, this is really going on. It gives us permission. To really check in with ourselves and say, this is what this is. I'm not going crazy. I'm having these things, and now I can take some steps to help it. but as far as female entrepreneurship, what are the signs and symptoms that it's affecting their work and mindset, because I think that's what happens is, we go, I can't get this much done.

What else could happen there? 

[00:20:56] Clarissa Krisjansson: So I think the brain fog is a huge one. And we touched because it isn't, oh, I've lost my keys. It really is. I come to a meeting and you think, oh, I can't remember this person's name. Oh hell. and that's a customer that's an important client.

I haven't got a clue what this person's called, and I've met them x, y, Z times. It's when we stand up to present. The words go, nothing comes out and you look like an idiot. Many women can talk about struggling to take on complex projects that were a walk in the park. We just don't seem to be able to fit the bits together.

Oh. And suddenly my diary is triple booked for some reason, and I turned up to the wrong meeting in the wrong place. And these things are significant, especially when we're running our own businesses because people start to think you're incompetent. And then you are a bit moody and a bit short.

You've got a red mist, you could end up saying the wrong thing. Even though you may not mean to do that, you might snap at somebody. So it is very stressful from a mental health perspective when you're an entrepreneur and these things are happening to you. 

[00:22:17] Wendy: And so, and to get into solutions. What are some first steps that we can start if we're like, if we've just listened to all of this and we're like, oh, I have that and that, and that, what are some first steps to get the right type of help? Because again, if you say 75% of the people are going to doctors and not getting the care they need, where do they go?

[00:22:41] Clarissa Krisjansson: Yeah, good. Good question, Wendy. I think the first thing is go to a reputable website. Lovely. As social is, I'm sorry. It is just a myth and you won't know how to weave your way through what's true and what's not. If you are in the US, go to the North American Menopause Society website. The information on there is correct.

and you can use that as a stepping off platform to talk to your clinician. 

[00:23:14] Wendy: I had no idea that even existed. So thank you for that lovely resource. 

[00:23:18] Clarissa Krisjansson: Yeah. And they're having their conference right now. Some very interesting things they're talking about and similar, if you are listening from this, in other countries, there are similar societies, but the thing is go there and do that.

And then if you've been, like we said earlier, tracking what's going. That's the case. If you get, pushed away, you are one of the nice 75%. Then find a clinician that is, registered as a menopause expert. You should be able to find one. And go or even ring the society and say, who is registered, who's been trained by you to be a menopause expert?

And they may put you in contact. Generally, I'd say not your everyday healthcare provider. We love general practitioners, but they are exactly that. They're frontline. Find an O B G Y N who is trained in menopause and go and have a conversation. I would also say there are good resources of other things.

The societies will also list other things that can be good. They may give you some leads into nutrition into what you should be doing, exercise. So you should, if you want to do a more natural menopause, then I highly recommend looking at Marion Stewart's book, the Natural Menopause. It's her 28th book. I think a million people have bought it and she really lays out a very nice program on nutrition, exercise, and rest.

That's helped like I said, almost you know, hundred thousands of women to, to actually do something. You can do that yourself or you can get help from people who are similar like her or similar. If you go to my podcast, there are a lot of people who are really well trained and qualified who can support you on the lifestyle side.

and then manages stress, because that is a big factor here, which is where someone like myself is very involved, is like manage your stress because stress dials up every symptom. Stress symptoms look just like menopause symptoms. So, it's really get clinician help. You might get hormone therapy, you might not, but at least you've spoken to someone who can work with you, get the help you need from functional integrative approaches that can help you to feel better.

And the big thing is if there's no quick fix, there's no panacea, but there are ways that you put together a little sort of package that works for you. 

[00:25:54] Wendy: Thank you so much. This has been fabulous. I'm so glad you came on the show. You have no idea. I also know that you have an offer for our guests, so if you want to let them know what that is, that would be fantastic.

[00:26:05] Clarissa Krisjansson: I do, I have a little ebook called Beat Your Brain Fog, which I thought was very apt for us. And it just lays out some little beginning starter approaches that are tried and tested, for ways that you can support yourself if you are having those moments when you're thinking well. I don't remember anything, and we are getting upset about it too.

That's the important thing, so that we can take small baby steps to being in control of this. 

[00:26:36] Wendy: I know I will be downloading this as somebody I will self submit on the show that over the last four months I have left my purse or my phone or my keys in a car at the grocery store. And thank God I live in the best town ever, cuz every time I go back it's there.

All of it is there and I am like, How did I do this? Because I put it down and I'm like, okay. And there I go. 

[00:27:00] Clarissa Krisjansson: It's better than my story , where I lost my car in a huge car park in Sydney and the park. I couldn't remember which floor and I had a trolley with Ikea stuff. And a very, very miserable 10 year old with me

[00:27:14] Wendy: I've been very fortunate. So I'll be reading that myself. So thank you for that, please let people know what your website is and how they can contact you and, that would be great. 

[00:27:25] Clarissa Krisjansson: Thank you, Wendy. Well, you can contact me through my website, which is my name, clarissakristjansson.com.

And you can also follow me on Instagram, but I'm also on LinkedIn. Instagram was the same name as my podcast, which is Thriving through Menopause. And I have a lot of resources on that podcast. We've had four seasons and about nearly 200 people and a lot of them talking about managing your menopause from different angles. 

[00:27:57] Wendy: That is incredible.

So yes, go listen to that, especially if you're going through this. I think it'll be super helpful. Thank you. I wanna thank you so much for coming on the show again. It has been a delightful conversation. I'm sure a lot of my listeners will get a lot out of this. 

[00:28:12] Clarissa Krisjansson: Thank you so much, Wendy, for having me. And I really hope listeners out there, you take heart.

You know it does end and you can get help to get through it. No one has to suffer this journey. 

[00:28:24] Wendy: Thank you. For my listeners we will be back again soon. In the meantime, if you love what you heard today, please subscribe and leave a review. In the meantime, have an abundant week.


Clarissa KristjanssonProfile Photo

Clarissa Kristjansson


Clarissa Kristjansson Ph.D. is an internationally recognized menopause educator, and certified mindfulness and medical qigong practitioner focused on the positive and transformative nature of menopause. A neuroscientist and former corporate highflyer Clarissa has 28 years of experience leading insight into behavioral change. Her perimenopause experience set her on a different path to empower women through this transformational life stage. Cracking open the conversation about our beliefs and behaviour and shifting the collective mindset to seeing this menopause as an opportunity for reinvention and revitalization. She is the host of the popular Thriving Thru Menopause podcast, author of the bestsellers The Mindful Menopause and "The Potent Power of Menopause: A Globally Diverse Perspective of Feminine Transformation and creator of the Thriving Through Menopause program.