Over the last few years my practice has naturally evolved towards supporting more and more women during midlife, and in particular, during the time of hormonal upheaval that we call peri-menopause. During that time what has become increasingly clear to me is that the mind-body connection is absolutely essential for good health and never more so than at this time during our life.
Good health begins as a thought
Achieving long-term health and energy is a balancing act. Quite simply, what you put into your mind may have as much of an impact as the food and supplements you feed your body.
Many studies have been conducted on the mind-body connection. What we know for sure is that a positive attitude works – when we remember to nurture it.
Wholesome food, avoiding sugar and toxins are obvious tools for great health but how should you deal with the consequences of negative thinking and stress?
Experts rate exercise, sufficient sleep, controlling negative thoughts and building a strong social support as some of the best ways to decrease stress and boost immunity – so paying attention to your feelings and needs is as vital as drinking enough water and avoiding junk food.
When our body is in a state of flux, as it is during the peri-menopause it is particularly important for us to improve our resilience and bring balance in this area. Nurturing our mind-body connection can be a game changer in terms of how we experience this time in our life.
Winning ways to promote good mind-body health
The release of endorphins during exercise promotes a sense of wellbeing, which has the added benefit of boosting resilience. Walking, running or any other muscle-moving activity also dramatically reduces stress by ‘working off steam’ when you are upset or angry. With the release of endorphins, your body receives a natural mood boost, resulting in reduced stress levels, which in turn may help reduce menopausal syptoms.
But don’t forget balance. Whilst too much sitting and not enough moving can impact your stress levels, so can too much exercise. If exercise leaves you feeling energised it’s likely what you need ; if it leaves you feeling drained then it may be time to ease off and focus on a more restorative form of movement like some gentle walking.
2. GET ENOUGH SLEEP
According to an American Psychological Association study, stress is what keeps more than 40% of adults awake at night. To aim for the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night, avoid caffeine, digital screens and try to turn in at the same time each evening.
3. FOCUS ON SELF-CARE
Make an effort to do something nice for yourself every day. Neglecting your own needs adds unnecessary stress to the system, resulting an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, and a resultant increase in hormone imbalance and potentially menopausal symptoms as a result.
Women, in particular, tend to put their own needs last, especially if they’re caring for children and/or elderly parents. If you battle with guilt when you take an hour off to read, go for a manicure or have a coffee with a friend, remind yourself that if your bucket is empty, you’ll have nothing left to give anyone else. Simple, but effective.
You can reduce menopausal symptoms by meditating. A study showed that people who practised mindfulness – a type of meditation or mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment, while accepting feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations – noted a positive effect on symptom scores for irritability, depression, and anxiety in middle-aged menopausal women.
5 IT TAKES A VILLAGE…
Building strong social connections has proven psychological and physiological benefits. Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, having a ‘support group’ – no matter how big or small –can help women to feel more positive about menopause
Being able to share stress or concerns with close family or friends provides an opportunity for outside support and advice, which alleviates a sense of being alone in your situation.
Ongoing stress is also a contributing factor to many chronic diseases, and is seriously not helpful if you are trying to lose weight.
“When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another – and ourselves.” – Jack Kornfield, American author and Buddhist mindfulness pioneer.
If there is anything that has come up for you as a result of this blog, I warmly invite you to book in for a free health and energy review to see if a personalised nutrition and lifestyle plan might help. You can book yourself directly into my diary by clicking right here