Did you know that anxiety from the menopause can occur in one in three women? We hear a lot about the physical changes that stem from the menopause, but mental well-being is also affected with some women experiencing feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety, poor concentration and low energy. Part of the reason these changes happen is due to the change in hormones. When oestrogen levels decrease, symptoms including anxiety can kick in.
Simple changes that may help
Exercise can make all the difference to a healthy lifestyle and how we feel. Thirty minutes, 5 times a week is all you need. And if you’re a woman going through the menopause, bone health and weight-bearing activity must be a top priority. Walking and gardening can fit into your daily routine but there’s also some great exercise classes you could join which will get the body moving and give you a chance to meet new people too!
Yoga, Tai Chi, meditation and breathing exercises are said to be helpful in calming your mind and body during periods of anxiety.
According to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, after meditation training of 20 minutes once a day for only five days, people had measurably less anxiety and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than a control group who learned how to relax instead. The experimental group also showed lower levels of anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue than was the case in the control group1.
It’s likely you have come across the term mindfulness in recent times. This refers to being more aware in the present moment, connecting to everything and everyone around you which can positively impact your mental well-being.
Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment. “Reminding yourself to take notice of your thoughts, feelings, body sensations and the world around you is the first step to mindfulness”2.
Our diet can be in an important factor in coping with anxiety and everyone responds to stress in different ways – some women may lose their appetite, some may turn to sugary snacks for comfort. Our bodies must work a little harder when we are feeling anxious so fuelling your body with the right foods can play a pivotal role3.
You know the saying, breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Try to keep the blood sugar levels stable by eating wholesome foods such as brown bread and avoid too much sugar. And more importantly cut the caffeine. Caffeine can lead to a stimulated response and make you feel more tense than normal, so instead opt for a calming herbal tea.
We’re often juggling multiple elements – work, families, home life etc. which may leave us feeling like there’s little ‘me time’. Take some time out for yourself whether it’s through one of the activities above or even writing down your thoughts and feelings in your very own journal. Some time for reflecting and collecting your thoughts can be very therapeutic!
The most important thing to remember is, there’s support available and many women who will be sharing similar symptoms of menopause as you, so you’re not alone. For more tips, explore our Health Hub.