Introduce yourself! Tell the readers a little bit about yourself and what you do.
I’m Clarissa Kristjansson, and I am a Holistic Menopause Coach and Educator. I work one-on-one with women on their menopause journey. I work very much from Chinese medicine, and Eastern medicine philosophy, rather than standard Western health coaching.
I help women to dive deeper into an area that may be bothering them. I coach women for three months at a time and we delve into how they can care for and nourish themselves during this time, and how they can set themselves up for the next chapter of their lives. Menopause is not the end; it’s the start of the next 30-40 years of your life.
What are some misconceptions about menopause?
A lot of the misconceptions are that it doesn’t happen till you’re 50 or older, which is definitely not true. I advise people to start thinking about this when they’re 35 because that’s when your changes will happen. The other thing I’d like to say is that it’s not all hell.
There is a lot of fear-mongering and negative language out there about menopause, and people have a vested interest to do that. Some of it is about keeping women in their place, and some of it is the obsession with ageism that we have in our society – but it’s wonderful! Suddenly, we’re liberated. It comes at a time when we come to the end of the hormonal changes. Whenever we have a big change in our life it will always come with some challenges. Some of these challenges are telling you, ‘get your house in order,’ ‘start thinking about what are you eating,’ ‘how are you exercising?’ ‘How are you caring for yourself and standing up for yourself?’
It’s the perfect opportunity to really take a look at yourself and say, ‘who do I want to be? What do I want to bring to the world in the next 30, 40 years?’ That’s a lot of time to live. Some women may live 50 years or more. So, let’s make those years great. Let’s not talk about it as “hell” or “the end.”
Tell us about your journey! What brought you into doing what you do?
I had a horrible menopause journey; a really horrid one with lots of anxiety. Suddenly I’m thinking, ‘how can I be two dress sizes bigger?’ I had a lot of issues with my sleep, my blood pressure – that’s 20 years ago or more. I didn’t know that all this was linked. I sort of knew about menopause – that it was something your mom and your grandma had gone through, but I didn’t know about all the different things that could happen to you. There I was, not knowing and I just got told, ‘well, that’s it! Here’s some blood pressure meds.’ I had no support.
Things only got worse and I had a big panic attack in the office in front of my new boss and I thought, ‘I can’t go on like this.’ I turned it around and I started practicing mindfulness. Originally, I trained as a mindfulness practitioner, and I noticed that I had all these wonderful women coming to me sounding just like me. They would tell me ‘I can’t sleep, I feel very anxious, I’ve got brain fog, I’ve got no energy to exercise, I just don’t feel like me anymore.’ I started to read about it and Christiane Northrup’s books were very central. I read lots of spiritual books and Chinese medicine books and I was thinking, ‘Oh, it’s menopause.’ That’s about eight years ago and no one was talking about the menopause. It wasn’t out there in the big wide world. Now, in the last two or three years, it seems like everybody’s talking about it.
Then, I trained as a holistic health coach for older women. I started working with Chinese medicine. I worked with Qigong, Chinese food therapy, and acupressure, which is a bit different to acupuncture. I started working with these resources and with the women who came to me looking for help. I could see them getting better and I thought, ‘well, this is now my space.’
Do you have some stories to share from clients that have gone through the process with you and the results that they had?
I had one client who’s a fantastic business owner. She was just exhausted the whole time and she’d always been really fit – she’s a runner. She said to me, ‘I have no energy, I have no energy to exercise, I’ve got no energy for my kids.’ Then we started to look at her life and her energy was just everywhere; she was giving it all and she wasn’t gathering it back in. In Chinese medicine, you need to regenerate – to get your energy to flow and take care of your energy essence. We worked out that to really help her have better self-care practices, she needed to get her nutrition more steadily back on track. We can’t live all day on coffee and then a glass of wine and one meal a day!
There are a lot of women who have that sort of eating pattern, and who are not making enough time to rest. But you have to step up and care for yourself. We all have a different journey, but sometimes we need more support and to give less of our energy away.
This woman was a great example of someone who made a lot of structural changes in her life and a lot of energetic changes with respect to her boundaries and caring for herself. It makes a huge difference. I inject the food therapy into those changes as well. The food that you eat from a Chinese medicine practice is energetically better for you, not just because of its nutrition. Often it is also good for you from a Western nutrition perspective; the energy the food contains is right to balance your own personal energy levels. In addition to this I have been practicing Qigong and I use a lot of aromatherapy oils on selected acupressure points in the body that help to regain and rebuild energy.