Can mindfulness help with mental health in menopause?
Mindfulness and menopause?
‘A period of mental illness, usually without a physical cause, that results in anxiety, difficulty in sleeping and thinking clearly, a loss of confidence and hope, and a feeling of great sadness’.
Is this the Cambridge English Dictionary definition of a) symptoms of menopause or b) a nervous breakdown? Answer, b), but it could so easily be describing the psychological impacts of menopause that can be tough for you, your family and those around you.
According to the North American Menopause Society ‘changing those negative thoughts and attitudes can result in a reduction of symptoms. Even in the face of difficult symptoms, women consistently say that changing their outlook helps.’
Mindfulness and changing your outlook
Mindfulness is a 21st century phenomenon spawning numerous social media sites, apps and books given over to helping us find our zen. As menopause symptoms can be exacerbated by stress, it could be time to rethink your stress management - you may well want to give mindfulness a go.
What is mindfulness?
The Oxford Mindfulness Centre say it’s a ‘directed focus’ style of meditation bringing a ‘moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience’ helping you to see what happens in your body when you have certain thoughts.
How does mindfulness work?
Mindfulness encourages us to relax; lowering blood pressure, pulse and breathing rates. What does this mean in practice?
The Mindfulness Project say that ‘any time you have a focal point, or you're directing your mind in a particular direction, this is mindfulness.’ These could be times when you're concentrating on breathing, walking or sitting quietly.
How can mindfulness help with menopause symptoms?
Fluctuating hormones and the curved balls of life; family, relationships and work, can all be discombobulating causing overwhelming feelings of perimenopausal anxiety. Mindfulness may just be your rescue remedy!
In 2013, A Women’s Health Concerns Clinic, Clinical Psychologist, Sheryl Green at St Joseph’s Hospital (USA), looked at the benefits of cognitive therapies including mindfulness, as alternative treatments for women who can’t or don’t want to use HRT.
She found that mindfulness meditation improved the way patients tolerated and dealt with stress, showing positive results for those suffering menopause depression. Interestingly, women tended to feel less depressed after therapy involving coping skills and after mindfulness-based stress reduction and relaxation techniques.
What to know before starting basic mindfulness practice.
See our post on the 6 of the Best Mindfulness Apps to help relieve menopause symptoms. In the meantime, these 5 tips may help you to get started.
Time: Not taking time out has probably added to your stress. Find the best 10 minutes in your day when you can just sit quietly, building up to 20 minutes.
Place: Somewhere peaceful where you won’t be disturbed! Maybe turn off the lights and focus on the darkness, this type of sensory deprivation can help calm body and mind.
Position: Sitting gives the best balance and focus, so find a comfy chair or cushion and just sit!
Breathing: Fundamental for living and for mindfulness! Focus on the coolness of your breath, where it comes from, how it feels and the different rhythms. Sounds easy but it needs practice. Bring your mind back to your breathing when you feel it drifting, as it inevitably will.
Practice makes perfect: You’ll need to work on it and stay with it! If nothing else, you’ll be taking time away from everyday stresses, making time for your and calming yourself down in the process. A win-win.
Asking for help in dealing with menopausal moods
Depression is a serious mental health condition. It’s essential that you consult your doctor to help you deal with it, whether its cause is hormonal, or not. Please look at our information on depression and menopause, it may help you to prepare in advance for a conversation with your GP. when-to-see-your-doctor-about-depression
Some women may be more prone to the impact of fluctuating hormones on their moods. See more about what may help you to manage mood-swings in menopuase.
Mindfulness, menopause and looking after number one
Now, more than ever, is a time to indulge in bit of self-care. Give yourself what you can, maybe a warm bath with a scented candle, fresh flowers, a relaxing massage, taking a mindful walk or listening to a mindful app. Whatever it is that you think will help you to relax, just do it!
Menopause, a time to take care of number one because only you know what you’re experiencing.
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