Successful transition and self-determination
Menopause is a natural transition phase, common to all women around the world.
Like all transition phases, to be successful, it must be coupled with actual changes in habits, at least for most of us.
For the 75% -80% of women suffering from hot flashes, revising your wardrobe essentials is for instance a must (with a drastic reduction in the number of long-sleeved sweaters).
Diet must also be adapted to counterbalance the troublesome symptoms of menopause or to combat health risks such as a decrease in bone mineral density, one of the major health risks in postmenopausal women.
For the less active among us, it is also essential to start practicing regular physical activity, several times a week, to fight against the decrease in bone mineral density (yet again) and cardiovascular disease (the leading cause of death in the world according to WHO1 and a major risk in postmenopausal women).
For some women, these changes are easy to implement and to maintain over time: « I’ve decided to start – I’m starting … and I keep going ».
For others it is more difficult, both in terms of implementation and in perseverance over time.
This is why we thought it would be interesting to try and get a better understanding of how motivation works. With today a focus on the theory of self-determination (SDT)2.
To summarize, according to this theory, there are three types of motivation: intrinsic (directly derived from the satisfaction brought by the behavior implemented), extrinsic (derived from the consequences of the behavior implemented) and amotivation (or actual lack of motivation ( ie « nothing helps »)).
Let’s take the example of physical activity.
Extrinsic motivation‘s four components are:
- integrated regulation – I exercise because it’s consistent with my values and other personal goals
- identified regulation – I exercise because I know and understand the benefits
- introjected regulation – I exercise because I want to feel better about myself, improve my self-esteem, or because I’ll feel guilty if I don’t
- external regulation – I exercise to get rewards or avoid punishment from others.
All those motivation types and regulations can be split between autonomous and controlled:
- Intrinsic motivation, integrated and identified regulations are considered autonomous forms of motivation, as in exercising being personally endorsed and engaged in because “we want to”
- External and introjected regulations are considered controlled forms of motivation, as in we exercise under external or internal pressure or tensions, because “we have to”.
According to SDT, autonomous motivation significantly increases our chances of being successful in adopting and maintaining a behaviour. It also increases our psychological well-being.
That doesn’t mean that at a given period of our life our motivation is either 100% autonomous or 100% controlled: people are motivated by different things at the same time.
But our chances of success, and our feeling of well-being do vary depending on whether we are mainly in an autonomous, controlled or, worse, amotivation phase.
To stay with the example of physical activity, if our autonomous motivation for sport in general is weak, we’d be wel; advised to choose an activity with a personal trainer who will « force » us to practice at all costs.
Il faut également noter que la composition de notre motivation évolue dans le temps, affectée par des facteurs divers.
It should also be noted that the mix in our motivation changes over time, affected by various factors.
For example, we can be for years a « look-obsessed » fan of shopping, with a high degree of associated introjected regulation, and later experience a change in values that causes this introjected regulation to disappear, changing the balance in our motivation mix. In this case, the type of sports that has suited us so well for so long may need to be changed if we want to persevere in having regular physical activity.
Being able to self-analyze in terms of motivation can definitely help improve our ability to implement changes in habits associated with menopause over time.
Are you interested in the experiences of women at different stages of their menopause? Would you like a reminder of the physiology of menopause and the main symptoms? Download our free ebook, Menopause Story(ies).
1: source: WHO – Health Topics – Cardiovascular disease
2: source: « Stirring the motivational soup: within-person latent profiles of motivation in exercise » , doi: 10.1186/s12966-017-0464-4