Mental health is one of the aspects of wellbeing that is often disconnected from menopause. According to the NHS, one in four women will experience anxiety and depression at some point during their transition.
We believe that this is mainly down to women being on the backfoot of menopause, being unprepared and not being able to talk freely with others about how they are feeling. With the right tools, team and tribe in place, we can change this and have mindful and joyful menopause.
When oestrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate and drop, the cortisol hormone is left unchecked which may cause anxiety and stress levels to rise. This can also be a reason why our sleep may become disrupted. Our feelings of anxiety may not be rooted in external factors, but just down to our hormone levels that are a little out of whack.
The mind and body are interconnected. So, when we feel stressed, this also impacts our bodies. For example, over 40% of women claim to experience palpitations and stress is a well-known trigger for weight gain and hot flushes and night sweats.
The good news is that we can retrain our brain and reframe thoughts to direct our emotions more positively. This, in turn, creates a more constructive response to situations and leads to a positive cycle of thinking.
What is Mindfulness
Mindfulness is made up of various principles that are ultimately about being grounded and aware of the present moment. People do this by tuning into their senses, noticing the small details around them, connecting to the breath or ground to centre themselves, and observing negative thoughts or feelings of tension with curiosity and compassion. Meditation, guided or self-guided is a common form of mindfulness practice.
The Art of Mindfulness
One of the ways we can manage stress and achieve emotional balance is by becoming more aware of what is going on in our bodies (and not just the bits that are unpleasant and we don’t want!). It is about developing an ongoing awareness of what our bodies are telling us, to begin to listen more respectfully and in turn respond more compassionately.
The practise of mindfulness can help with this. We can spend much of our days in our heads, lost in thought and on auto-pilot, which means we could be missing subtle cues that our body is giving us. As the mind and body are interconnected, clinical evidence has shown that hot flushes and night sweats, joint pain, muscle tension, and palpitations we might experience during menopause, can be managed by our minds.
That is not to say that we can entirely control what happens to us during this time of change, but we may be able to mitigate the extent of the effect on us. Practicing regular breathwork, yoga, t’ai chi, mindfulness, and sophrology are all proven ways to regulate and calm down the nervous system.
Activating our mind, alongside greater awareness of our bodies, is deeply empowering and a new skill and opportunity to learn and develop, during menopause.
Practicing mindfulness may help by:
Making us feel more grounded
Calming our racing mind
Switching our ‘rational’ brains back on
Reducing a sense of being overwhelmed