It’s mental health awareness week so we are taking a close look at mental health and menopause.
Studies are yet to conclude a link between depression and the menopause, but that doesn’t mean your mental wellbeing isn’t enormously impacted during this stage of your life.
Menopause and Depression
Whether you are just newly entering peri, or already entangled in the vast range of symptoms from the menopause, your mental wellbeing can be assaulted by the storm going on in your body. Lack of sleep, hot flashes, the inability to generate equilibrium in hormonal fluctuations and weight gain are all symptoms that contribute to a battering of our mental strength.
“Many researchers call the menopausal transition a time of “vulnerability” for depression. In other words, while menopause itself does not cause depression, it’s a time where women are at higher risk for developing it.” Depression During Menopause: More Common Than You Think — Lisa Health Blog
Nicki Aiken and I discuss how to manage your menopause in this podcast, where we touch on the detrimental effects menopause can have on women’s mental health. We highlight the importance of spreading the menopause message, educating girls and women, and giving women the confidence to source information and act effectively.
Mental Health Awareness Week
Mental Health Awareness week runs from 10th – 16th May and is a great reminder for us to consider ways in which we manage our mental wellbeing. This year, mental health charities such as the Mental Health Foundation are focusing on connecting with nature to improve mental health.
We all know the best ways to manage our stresses; eating well, exercising, connecting with people or things we love and evading harmful habits – but let’s face it – sometimes we forget to look after ourselves. The pandemic has been a hammering of pressures, increased worry, loneliness, and isolation, leaving us in limbo for what the future holds.
As the country eases out of extraordinary measures, it is okay to have a variety of feelings. Fear, chaos, and loss have been prevalent throughout the pandemic and if you are yet to focus on your mental health, now is the time!
Heal your body and mind in nature
Love your body; treating yourself gently and avoiding negative self-talk is a fantastic way to build a strong core for stress management. Next time you are walking with beautiful birdsong, try promoting yourself with some positive self-talk. Listen to my podcast where Jessica Valentine, a chartered psychologist discusses self-love.
Try the four and eight breathing method to calm yourself in the moment. Sitting on a bench in nature, or by a body of water whilst you practice will connect you to your surroundings.
Start your day in the garden with some mindfulness meditation! As little as 5 minutes a day can strongly aid depression and help manage stress levels.
Bring nature to you with healing plants. Sage is great for reducing menopausal symptoms, try yours in a bath or tea to make the most of its soothing capabilities
Balance your blood sugar levels
Ensuring an insulin balancing act during the menopause can support your hormones and other menopausal symptoms. Check out my tool kit for keeping insulin resistance at bay.
In the same way, your body changes during the menopause, the way you approach exercise should too. Resistance exercises build strength and prevent cortisol release and oxidative stress, so grab your bands and make nature your studio!
Talking things through with someone who understands or can empathise is a great way to manage your stress and validate your feelings. The sisterhood is there to strengthen you - take your ladies' lunch outside this month!
Getting enough sleep is important when managing fatigue and stress, establishing a good quality and guilt-free sleep routine is important in stress management. Open the windows and let the fresh air flow over your body.
Not going on a diet but maintaining a healthy balanced diet that is rich in the sources that help your mind, body, and gut function properly - this includes getting enough water. Feed yourself with the best of nature’s garden.
Look after yourself during Mental Health Awareness week and beyond with this month's Watch, Read, Do!
Here’s a few specially selected things that you can do to help manage stress levels.
Now on Channel 4, Davina McCall takes on the taboo of talking about the Menopause. Bursting with scientific investigations, personal accounts of other women living with the menopause and Davina’s own individual experience, this is a must watch!
Quote: “With startling honesty, Davina McCall will describe her own menopause journey, busting the myths surrounding the transition, and dispelling the shame and fear around hormone replacement therapy.” Channel 4 and Davina McCall to break the menopause taboo | Channel 4
Check out this fascinating article from The Guardian, where Kate Muir describes her journey, “which was more a Thelma and Louise car crash as my hormones went off a cliff.” – I can certainly empathise!
Another article that caught my eye touches on female political figures and breaking the menopause taboo in the house of commons! Women such as Baroness Warsi discuss brain fog and the sweaty mess that ensues as she leads debates and partakes in panels. She is a huge fan of resistance bands and employed a holistic approach for managing the side effects of her menopause.
Give yourself time. Time to think about your needs and be aware of your stress levels. Time to actively ensure you are focussing on reducing your stress and improving your mental wellbeing.
Set yourself 15 minutes per day to focus on you and your mental wellbeing for the next month. Get outside exploring nature and try out a mix of the stress management tips that fit your individual need whilst ensuring you take notice of the difference they make.