With World Menopause Day this week, we are exploring Mindfulness as a natural alternative to help alleviate Menopause symptoms.
Menopause is a natural part of ageing, but it can be difficult to deal with.
Menopause officially occurs when menstruation stops and the ovaries cease producing eggs – but this doesn’t happen overnight (unless you have surgery for health reasons). As the ovaries slowly stop responding to the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, physical changes and challenges set in over a period of months or even years – sometimes starting in women as young as 30 through to midlife. Symptoms such as irregular periods, hot flushes, night sweats, brain fog, anxiety, depression, joint pain and sleeping problems are commonly experienced by women. Not all women will have the same symptoms – some might not even notice them at all! This makes it difficult for many women to know if their symptoms are even due to the menopause.
A number of studies have shown mindfulness to be an effective natural approach to help with some of the physical and psychological symptoms of menopause.
Mindfulness has gained considerable popularity among people of all backgrounds and ages looking to improve their wellbeing, manage stress and cope better with anxiety. It is essentially a way of being – simply living with present moment awareness, in a non-judgemental way. When you practice mindfulness, you learn to prioritise different types of thoughts – helping to manage those stressful and anxious moments. Meditation is a pillar of mindfulness that helps to strengthen your mind so that constant worries or ruminating thoughts can float by instead of sticking to you.
A team at the Mayo Clinic’s Menopause and Women’s Sexual Health Clinic, led by Richa Sood, studied mindfulness and the role it could play in reducing menopausal symptoms. Their studies focussed on the fact that stress can intensify menopausal symptoms you are already experiencing. Sood’s theory was that mindfulness, which helps us regulate our emotional responses, could ease menopausal symptoms and overall stress.
Their studies showed that participants with higher levels of mindfulness had lower stress levels and milder hot flushes, night sweats and other symptoms – indicating mindfulness is a promising tool for alleviating menopausal symptoms and stress. The higher mindfulness scores were also associated with lower irritability, depression and anxiety.
Another study explored mindfulness as potential relief for hot flushes, night sweats and other menopausal symptoms such as disturbed sleep. This study showed that women who attended an weekly 8 week mindfulness course reported feeling less stress and were more able to navigate their hot flushes and night sweats with ease. Three months after the study they reported an outstanding improvement in their sleep.
These studies show that by learning and living mindfully you are able to start changing the way you respond to menopause symptoms, reducing negative judgments and feeling more in control of your reactions to the symptoms you’re experiencing.
If you’re interested in learning more about Mindfulness & Meditation either in one-to-one sessions at The Maris Practice or in a group setting, you can get in touch with Tracey at Hummingbird Coaching via email or find out more here.