Words by Nicki Phillips of niix.fit
What is “The Change” like for women? In truth, it’s different for everyone. Whilst the menopause can feel like a walk in the park for some, for many others, it can be a real struggle, creating distress & discomfort, both physically and mentally. Most of us will experience some symptoms during perimenopause & into menopause, but how best can we survive these changes in a positive way?
Let’s face it, menopause has never been sexy. It is often seen as marking the loss of fertility, vibrancy and youth, BUT this does not have to be the case. Of course, some of us may be hit with a combination of symptoms and effects, but with the correct information and the right outlook, menopause can be a rebirth and the start of new horizons. So let’s talk about the power of positive thinking during menopause.
HOW DO I KNOW?
Perimenopause is the early stages and lead-up to menopause (the time when periods cease for a year or more). Hormonal changes, particularly the drop in oestrogen during perimenopause, can start at any age but is usually seen in the mid 40’s. These shifts cause changes throughout the body, (often misdiagnosed) but can vary from the very mild to extreme. Anything from hot flushes, memory loss, weight gain, disrupted sleep, higher blood pressure, intense fatigue, itchy skin, tinnitus, joint pain, anger and more, can leave women feeling completely helpless against their body and changing hormones.
Research from Healthspan has concluded that 61 percent of women are likely to experience feelings of anxiety due to symptoms of perimenopause. This is likely down to the reduction of the woman’s ‘calming’ hormone progesterone and lowered oestrogen levels.
While this sounds very doom and gloom it does not have to be this way. Mindfulness and the power of positivity could be the tool you are missing on your menopausal journey.
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS
Mindfulness is all about being present in the here and now. It is about being in touch with your body, your breath and paying close attention to how your body feels and the sensations it is experiencing. Mindfulness is about bringing your attention back whenever your mind begins to wander - free from distraction or judgement. This means tuning into your body and really understanding what truly matters. Your energy during this stage in your life is precious. What can you say no to? What can you delegate? Only spend your energy and time on the things that matter and are important.
The use of mindfulness through menopause can be freeing. It is a time when our children are older and more self-sufficient, allowing more time for ourselves, time for newfound freedom and personal growth. A time when choice is more available. An age where we have found inner confidence and know ourselves, it is a time to leverage this and move forward positively.
HOW CAN BEING MINDFUL HELP DURING MENOPAUSE?
Here are some top tips to helping you manage your mental & physical symptoms:
1. Pay attention to your body
Bring your attention solely to your body, your breathing and being present for 5 minutes a day can have a positive effect on your body and mind. Relaxation techniques can help refocus the negative thoughts and channel your focus into feeling calm and in control.
It may seem strange to make yourself aware of the physical symptoms you are experiencing but by being aware and understanding what is happening to your body, you are less likely to fight to ignore these symptoms. Whilst being mindful will not eliminate your physical symptoms, it can equip you with the ability to control your thoughts and ride the wave until the storm passes.
2. Create daily rituals
Practice a daily mantra. Repeating words or sounds has been seen to help build concentration and focus. Research suggests that the power of mindfulness combined with positive thoughts and a daily mantra can have the following benefits:
Decreased feelings of stress and anxiety
Increased body/ mind awareness
Improved quality of life
Increased ability to deal with pain
3. Hone your outlook
The power of ‘mind over matter’ has never been more prominent than when referring to the menopause. There is growing evidence that the absence of positive thoughts has a greater negative impact on our health and well-being than does the presence of negative ones. Try to be aware of a negative thought/symptom without denying that it exists. Identify the symptom, accept that it is happening to you and move forward. Nothing is permanent.
While you feel like this may never end, you will make it out the other side. Use your mantra to remind you that it is ok to feel how you feel. Yes, you may be drenched in sweat, just know that it will pass. You may be completely and utterly exhausted right now and that’s ok.
It is important to remember that similar to exercise and healthy eating, this is not necessarily a quick fix and you may not find it makes a difference overnight. Researchers recommend practicing a habit (i.e. your new daily mantra and positive thoughts) for 21 consecutive days before determining whether this technique is for you.
This journey is personal to you and your body and about finding what works for you. We recommend reaching out to a menopause doctor to discuss your symptoms and find what is right for you and your body.
JUST remember, fifty is definitely the new forty and with more of us living longer, having better diets and staying fit and healthy, women are looking younger and full of vitality for longer. Move over slippers and say hello to new possibilities.
“When you wake up in menopause, you don’t feel ready to face the day. Since I have been doing the niix app by the time I’ve finished exercising, I feel stronger, fitter, healthier and ready to take on the challenges of the day.” Miriam - niix user
Are you going through menopause or have been through it? The good folks at niix.fit would love to know about your experience. Should you like to share your thoughts, they are conducting a survey to learn more about women’s experiences of menopause wellbeing to better support their active community.