Deirdre Brady BA (Hons), Adv Dip Hyp MEAPH MAPCP
Updated: Mar 3, 2021
Hot flushes and that sudden sense of overheating and flushing of face and chest, night sweats, sleep problems, erratic periods, emotional rollercoaster and mood swings, loss of libido, weight gain, aching joints, tiredness, anxiety, depression, brain fog, and forgetfulness, more self-conscious with low self-confidence etc... Do these symptoms sound familiar? If so you may be in the throes of perimenopause or menopause mayhem.
“The way I see it, every year can be a brand new journey. Think about it: You get one chance to be 25, 38, 44, 61 and every age before and between. Why wouldn’t you want to experience all the wonder in each step on your path” - Oprah Winfrey
Menopause is a HUGE transition in a woman's life and for most women, this phase happens from about the ages of 45/55 years and is completely unique to each and every woman. It is one of those taboo subjects that we don’t really like talking about it. But thankfully this is changing more and more as we become more self-confident, self-aware, self-accepting, and self-compassionate on what it is to be a female in the modern age. This means taking responsibility; understanding our bodies, our emotions, and how to navigate what seems to be the endless choppy seas of menopause. Some may sail through this transition without even knowing it and they are the lucky ones! But others can suffer silently for years with distressing and debilitating symptoms that have a significant impact on the life of the woman. The most amazing thing is most women do not even realise what is happening to them and it takes years to put the puzzle of symptoms together especially if you are in perimenopause or under 45.
The menopause transition is a bio-psycho-socio-cultural process where studies highlight the complex ways in which lifestyle and cultural factors influence women's experience of menopause. Interestingly it shows that women living in Western countries, in general, report more symptoms than those from non-Western cultures (M & M, 2007). According to Harvard Women's Health Watch, menopause impacts mental health and wellbeing, with higher stress levels, anxiety and depression, and panic attacks also reported. Hormonal changes can become overwhelming and coping with physical and emotional symptoms along with having to juggle life with career and family can be a real challenge. That is why it is so important for women to educate themselves around this subject. Knowledge is POWER and to have the information and the tools they need to get through any adverse symptoms they may be experiencing. Knowing that this is a temporary transition though it can go on for years and that there is light at the end of the menopause tunnel. It is important to build a community of support and to embrace this time as a positive transition into another phase of a woman's life. In the old days, women had their circles of older and wiser women, their mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers to talk and give them the teachings on life, love, birth and menopause. ‘Red Tent’ gatherings for women, provide mutual emotional support and how to live in tune with the phases of their cycle to optimise their physical and psychological health. Now we can use zoom communities as women to help and support one another or indeed facebook support groups can also be beneficial and worth looking into. I am in big favor of women being open and talking about these uncomfortable topics where they can share laugher, knowledge, wisdom, and be that emotional support. Because we have been living in practical isolation for the last year we have been lacking the support we need from our social circle. Women can find themselves withdrawing from partners too especially if they feel that they are not being supportive enough emotionally. But how can men understand menopause we don't fully understand it ourselves. It is important for a couple to learn what is happening both on a physical and emotional level for the woman and be that support for each other.
The internet provides a wealth of information at our fingertips to explore this topic more. By beginning to understand how hormones work, the value in optimal nutrition, physical exercise, bone, pelvic, brain, and breast health, gut health and blood sugar balancing are all essential in looking after your body into menopause and beyond but equally, your mind and emotions may need some intervention to help you through some the emotional ups and downs, anxiety and alleviating some the more uncomfortable symptoms of hot flushes. Looking at how beneficial a simple mindfulness meditation can really help, the practice of yoga Nidra and the evidence studies to show how beneficial yogic practices are, the evidence behind herbal medicine, and the importance of sleep during the menopausal years.
Hypnotherapy is proven to be a highly effective, evidence-based method of managing Menopause (Barton, et al., 2017) and has been shown, in clinical trials, to be as effective at treating hot flushes as conventional hormone treatment (HRT) as some women will choose not to go with HRT or may not be able to tolerate it. Studies have also shown hypnotherapy to be particularly helpful during menopause for managing stress and anxiety, overcoming sleep problems, and resulting in significant reductions in self-reported and physiologically measured hot flashes which can affect about 80% of women, as well as hot flash scores in post-menopausal women (Elkins, et al., 2012). CBT is another evidence-based therapy that has been shown to be an effective treatment for menopausal symptoms especially around dysfunctional thinking patterns and used in combination with Hypnotherapy can be highly effective.
Yoga Nidra has also been shown to be highly effective in helping with hot flushes (Avis, et al., 2014). It is also known as Yogic sleep which through guided relaxation brings the body into a deeper restorative rest where the body and mind can rejuvenate and repair. It is a very calm relaxed state and releases serotonin which is known as the happy hormone. It is a place that can bring inner calm and peace of mind, body, and spirit in one. Yoga in general has also been shown to help women improve their sleep and reduce symptoms while it also increases flexibility and the use of breathing techniques can help with anxiety.
There is so much we can do as women to take responsibility for our own body, mind, and spirit during this transition. Welcoming this new phase that we are entering of Age, Wisdom, and Power in who we are as women and embracing this time rather than fearing it. It is time to reframe the idea of what a woman entering menopause is about and to accept and honor ourselves as the modern women we are, where we can reach whatever goals or aspirations we set ourselves and are not limited to gender, age, and time of life. It is a new phase of womanhood, a new age of possibilities.
As a trained Hypnotherapist, Kundalini Yoga and Mindfulness teacher, Total Yoga Nidra facilitator, Psychodynamic counsellor who uses CBT in my therapy practice; I am also a woman of midlife age and all that it brings with it so I understand all the different issues that present itself under the umbrella of perimenopause and menopause. I am learning all the time through my own individual experience. I can help navigate and guide you through this journey by supporting you emotionally and giving you the tools you need to help you navigate the symptoms of menopause.
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