Friday, January 27, 2017

My Professional Website Update

I've been writing and editing health and medical information since the late 90s, going full-time in 2009. I love my work, even if that means having to do something I'm not thrilled about: marketing. Being a freelance writer means you have to constantly market yourself to ensure a steady flow of clients and work.

Much of my work comes from repeat clients and I get a good bit through referrals from colleagues or other editors who have passed on my information. But I also have to make sure that I'm out there so people who are looking for health writers - or nurse writers - can know that I'm available. So, as a freelance writer, my website (along with this blog) allows potential clients to find me and see if I might be a good fit for their needs.

Before I began doing this on a full-time basis, I designed my own website and it worked well. I received many queries, some that resulted in paying work. But as the years passed, my site began to scream out "I designed this myself," and it was no longer a look I wanted. I bit the bullet and hired a web designer. I wanted a site that showed potential clients that I am a professional, but I wanted it clean and something that reflected my niche of health writing. And I got it:

The designer nailed it. It's clean, the colors are what I would have picked, and it presents really well.

There is some debate as to whether writers need their own site now. There are many sites that allow writers to post their CVs or writing samples. I am registered with some, but I think it's important for writers to also have their own space that they're in charge of. The other sites may be helpful, but we're at their mercy, whether it's updated, how it looks, and more. So I think that my website is a good investment.

So, here is my new website. Here's to a new year of work and discovery!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Are Menopause Symptoms Made Worse by Anxiety?

The symptoms of menopause can be distressing for many women. From the hot flashes to insomnia, the severity of the symptoms can affect their quality of life. If we already know that anxiety can make symptoms of any condition worse, does that mean if a woman is anxious, will she experience more drastic menopause symptoms? According to a study published in the journal Menopause, yes, it does.

The study looked at data from 3,503 women who were post menopausal. The researchers found that 61.9% were depressed and that 13.7% of the women reported a severe impairment in their quality of life; 25.5% mentioned severe urogenital symptoms (vaginal dryness and urinary incontinence) and 18.5% said they had severe psychological symptoms.

So what does that mean practically? The researchers concluded that screening of women undergoing menopause is important, but it's also important for women themselves to be aware of this possibility. If you do have anxiety or you have started to feel symptoms that make you believe that you're getting increasingly anxious, there are some steps you can take on your own to try to reduce the anxiety. These include things like meditation, mindfulness, exercising regularly, and keeping a journal, for example. Of course, professional help and guidance from a counsellor or therapist may be more appropriate.

Whichever steps you take, it's important to understand that you're not alone. According to a press release discussing the study:

"Although anxiety is a common symptom during menopause, panic attacks are not," says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director. "This study documents the importance of screening patients for anxiety. If women are having significant anxiety, they should discuss viable treatment options with their healthcare providers. These can include relaxation techniques, caffeine reduction, and exercise. Estrogen therapy or other mood medications might also prove helpful.

Have you gone through menopause? How have you found the process?