We need to dispel the myths around aging. The doom and gloom that is portrayed by the media, the confusion, and isolation and shame those women feel associated with menopause, ageing, and declining hormones. Women are desperate and help is not offered. Medical practitioners do not have time to spend with women. Resources are needed so women are healthy, and chronic diseases like osteoporosis, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are prevented. This will lead to healthier lives for women as they age and their families as they are the main caregivers.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Irene Hogan — Amazon bestseller author and award-winning pharmacist. Irene Hogan has worked in women’s health for over 20 years and has built her women’s practice through consulting at DayNight, Rexall, Stonechurch, and Postmaster Pharmacies. Through her consulting, Irene offers drug reviews, weight management, nutritional and natural medicine advice, and post- and peri-menopausal recommendations.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your back story?
As a young girl, I watched my dad work in the pharmacy below where we lived. I loved the patients coming in for liniments and cough bottles and stomach remedies that were mixed by hand from ingredients that had to be measured and browsing over books for formulas. The smell of the pharmacy and the medicinal glass bottles containing herbs, tinctures, and coloured glass show globes are part of my childhood memories. The sense of community has remained with me as I worked with women and prepared personalised plans for them to embrace menopause and aging with optimal health and balance.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
There are so many interesting stories as a pharmacist working in the community with patients. From various biological specimens in Ziploc bags that people feel the need to come in and show you to impress upon you the seriousness of their issues to misunderstandings of how to use a medication. Suppositories that have been consumed and medications taken with the packaging still on. One of the funniest stories was, when I was working in the North of England, a gentleman came in and said he needed something for a bite on his leg. He then proceeded to take out a weasel from his pant leg and tell me that it had bitten him. It is a custom to carry these animals around in their pant legs and take them to the pub with them. Apart from advising him on the need for a tetanus shot and antibiotics, I also discussed the practice with him.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
I am working on a women’s workshop and program that will help women have a sense of community and be able to discuss their problems in a non-judgmental supporting arena.
Between work and personal life, the average adult spends nearly 11 hours looking at a screen per day. How does our increasing screen time affect our mental, physical, and emotional health?
At 11 hours a day, it is obvious that there is not enough time for women to sleep which is the main issue that I see due to being attached to our mobile devices and not being able to turn them off which affects our sleep cycles. This leads to irritability, weight gain, food cravings, and exhaustion. EMF (electromagnetic frequencies) from phones has now been linked to hormonal imbalances, cancer, and fertility issues. At a time in a woman’s life, when she is already hormonally unbalanced, this can also increase her symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and low libido. It also adds to the never ending to-do list that I find women already struggling with and always end up feeling guilty about. Self-care also goes out the window as time just runs out. I also see it adding to isolation and communication issues, ironically, as we just don’t talk anymore. So, women are feeling lonely and without connections in the community. This leads women in menopause to think life at this time is all doom and gloom and they are unable to share their feelings and concerns. Although, there are Facebook groups, I find there are often many confusing solutions from people that are not experts and although there is sense of community, it is not the same as a face-to-face conversation within a group.
Can you share your top five ways people can improve mental wellness and create a healthy relationship with technology?
Mental health and wellness is linked to stress reduction, diet, and exercise. However, technology doesn’t always help with any of these. An app does not replace being in nature or near water which has been shown to help with depression. Technology gives us a lot of information but doesn’t help us put that information into a useable individualised plan. Stress reduction or how we react to the effects of stress is key to mental health and wellness. Here, technology can help with meditation and breathing apps to help calm down the nervous system and support good restorative sleep. Nutrition is a key to mental health. Eating unprocessed foods, lots of green leafy vegetables, and drinking herbal teas like Holy Basil, chamomile, and sage helps us think and focus and relax our thoughts and mind. Sleep is probably my number one go-to to improve mental health, and the simplest advice as far as technology goes is turn all your devices off at night and refrain from using them for an hour before retiring. You’ll sleep more soundly and feel refreshed in the morning instead of being grumpy and exhausted.
51% of Americans say they primarily use their smartphone for calls. With the number of robocalls increasing, what are ways people can limit interruptions from spam calls?
Answering unknown calls or from robocalls can be annoying, time-consuming, and frustrating at times. Some ways to reduce robocalls includes not answering calls from blocked numbers, unknown numbers, or numbers you don’t recognize. If they’re legit, you can listen to your voicemail and call them back at a designated time. You can also check with your provider to help you block robocalls on their system.
Between social media distractions, messaging apps, and the fact that Americans receive 45.9 push notifications each day, Americans check their phones 80 times per day. How can people, especially younger generations, create a healthier relationship with social media?
Limit time spent on social media by setting a time for checking in. Have a cell-free day (okay, maybe that’s a bit much!) but, how about a cell-free hour or switching off at night and only answering emails a couple of times during the day. Control your devices, don’t let them control you.
80% of smartphone users check their phones before they brush their teeth in the morning. What effect does starting the day this way have on people? Is there a better morning routine you suggest?
We set ourselves up for the expectation of being constantly available and on 24/7,and then we fail to deliver what we feel as if we are not enough — we can never live up to these expectations. Research shows that more successful people don’t answer emails or go on social media within the first hour of waking up. Smartphone use revs you up and when used at night, it increases cortisol which stops you from falling asleep and keeps you awake. Spend time in the morning doing some gentle stretches, a few sun salutations to welcome the day, and set your intentions. Let the sunlight into your room, go and breathe deeply to set your body’s rhythm for the day.
Can you please give us your favorite life lesson quote?
“Take the road less travelled, and enjoy the journey.”
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
An anti-menopause movement: in order for women to be informed and educated about the changes to expect going through menopause and solutions. We need to dispel the myths around aging. The doom and gloom that is portrayed by the media, the confusion, and isolation and shame those women feel associated with menopause, ageing, and declining hormones. Women are desperate and help is not offered. Medical practitioners do not have time to spend with women. Resources are needed so women are healthy, and chronic diseases like osteoporosis, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are prevented. This will lead to healthier lives for women as they age and their families as they are the main caregivers.