You’re not alone
One of the first points to remember with anxiety is you are not alone. Thousands of women during every time of their life, face anxiety in many different forms, everyday. Hormonal upheaval is something us ladies face throughout various stages of our lives without a rest. During menopause this feeling is exaggerated with a huge, sudden decrease in oestrogen and progesterone. Menopause is still often perceived and talked about in a rather taboo manner, and from the moment we learn it exists, is it any wonder we get anxious? Alongside controlling this outburst of manic hormones, running a home, working and trying to keep up with hobbies & exercise, do we actually have time to breath, unwind, not feel guilty for sitting down and having ‘me time’?
How to come down from this feeling? How do we control it? What is going to work for you and how do you know it will work? You are likely to end up feeling anxious just figuring out how to solve your anxiety!
Take time to think…
Try to take a step back from a situation you are finding stressful. Ask yourself if it is worth the upset, is it really such a major problem? Sometimes if we step back, take a walk and assess the situation we may find the problem is smaller than we initially thought.
So sit back, relax and breath using these breathing techniques
Become familiar with your own breathing patterns, which can often become disrupted by changes in your emotions. When you’re anxious, your voice may become high pitched, breathing may become erratic and you may find yourself holding your breath. This is because you’re tense. To help cope with stressful situations, it is good practice to become aware, and try to be more mindful when this is taking place. You can relax.
A few easy exercises to try are listed below, which will be most effective in a quiet location, without distraction and in a comfortable position. These will help you find time in your schedule to relax and take some ‘me time’, enabling you to recount your thoughts and slow your body and mind to a more comfortable pace.
Rhythmic breathing: If your breathing is short and hurried, slow it down by taking long, slow breaths. Inhale slowly then exhale slowly. Count slowly to five as you inhale, and then count slowly to five as you exhale. As you exhale slowly, pay attention to how your body naturally relaxes. Recognizing this change will help you to relax even more.
Deep breathing: Imagine a spot just below your navel. Breathe into that spot, filling your abdomen with air. Let the air fill you from the abdomen up, then let it out, like deflating a balloon. With every long, slow exhalation, you should feel more relaxed.
Visualised breathing: Find a comfortable place where you can close your eyes, and combine slowed breathing with your imagination. Picture relaxation entering your body and tension leaving your body. Breathe deeply, but in a natural rhythm. Visualize your breath coming into your nostrils, going into your lungs and expanding your chest and abdomen. Then, visualize your breath going out the same way. Continue breathing, but each time you inhale, imagine that you are breathing in more relaxation. Each time you exhale imagine that you are getting rid of a little more tension.
Progressive muscle relaxation: Switch your thoughts to yourself and your breathing. Take a few deep breaths, exhaling slowly. Mentally scan your body. Notice areas that feel tense or cramped. Quickly loosen up these areas. Let go of as much tension as you can. Roll your head in a smooth, circular motion once or twice. (Stop any movements that cause pain!) Roll your shoulders forward and backward several times. Let all of your muscles completely relax. Recall a pleasant thought for a few seconds. Take another deep breath and exhale slowly. You should feel relaxed.
Relax to music: Combine relaxation exercises with your favorite music in the background. Select the type of music that lifts your mood or that you find soothing or calming. Some people find it easier to relax while listening to specially designed relaxation audio tapes, which provide music and relaxation instructions.
References for breathing techniques: http://www.webmd.com
Increased strength, flexibility, balance and improved breathing and posture contribute to a healthier outlook on life. There have also been studies that show how yoga can help improve concentration by calming the mind and allowing you to focus. What a perfect way to relax, exercise and meet like minded people.
Calming yourself down is important, we can’t sustain stressful levels over a long period of time, this could cause other unhealthy factors. Learn to calm your heart rate and make quiet, all the stress running through your mind. Switch off and visualise a peaceful place, put yourself in that peaceful place and think positive thoughts. This will encourage your heart rate to slow down and the intervals between each heart beat become smooth, hence giving you a calm & clear mind.
Tips to meditate
You don’t always need candles, soft music playing, a formal class and someone asking you to visualise a scenario. Just take a few minutes in the morning with your breakfast, ten minutes at lunchtime or a moment to yourself in bed at the end of the day.
Close your eyes breath in through your nose and out through your mouth a few times, think happy thoughts and prepare for a positive day.
Stretch your muscles before sitting down, breath again as per breakfast meditation and before digging in to your lunch spend a few moments doing nothing just relaxing and leaving the mornings stresses behind. Pay attention to what you’re eating, eat slower, enjoy and taste the food. This will not only slow down rushing and making anxiety worse but prevent bloating and uncomfortable gas which can rear its ugly head during menopause.
Firstly use the breathing techniques you have learnt and once you’re feeling relaxed and switched off from the days events, don’t just try and fall straight to sleep. Focus instead on your toes and gradually move all the way to your head focusing on each body part. Relax each muscle completely like you’re powering it down until you feel that you are part of the bed and then slip into a more relaxed sleep.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
CBT is on of the most helpful and supportive anxiety cures. It can help you understand your own individual stress patterns and ways to control them. Useful self help guides can now be found online to walk you through your own personal treatment plan to make life even easier.
Trigger points and exercise
Find out what triggers are most likely to be causing your attacks. It is often useful to keep a diary because knowing when or how your anxieties are set off will give you peace of mind in managing anxiety. Try to reduce your caffeine intake and exercise on a regular basis, eat healthily, have enough consistent sleep and carry out at least 2 of the relaxation and breathing exercises per day.
Hormonal change can be a very confusing time, you must remember to take time out for you and live a healthy lifestyle. Just remember, you’re not alone. These new periods of anxiety are simply down to the new changes in your body, and so it is important to keep a positive outlook and don’t be afraid to reach out.