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Menopause is a natural transition in every woman’s life that can feel very unnatural.
After all, it can feel as if overnight you go from “normal” to anxious, irritable, depressed, hot and sweaty.
Yep, fun stuff…
And, the alternative?
Take hormone replacement drugs prescribed by your doctor that can lead to bleeding, bloating, breast tenderness or enlargement, headaches, mood changes, and nausea.
It’s a toss-up as to which is worse.
Science hasn’t found a lot to offer that works across the board for all women to diminish the most annoying symptoms, like hot flashes and night sweats.
But a new study published in the Journal of the International Menopause Society has found that there is a way for menopausal women to overcome one dangerous symptom is certainly creates in our lives…
The big factor hanging over menopause
The study involved a team of Mayo Clinic researchers who had a theory…
Mindfulness — the process of focusing your attention on the present moment and observing your thoughts and sensations without judgment — might lessen menopausal symptoms.
Prior research had shown practicing mindfulness can improve quality of life by reducing stress — something they felt could be a big factor in how severely women are affected as they move through menopause.
To test their theory, they recruited over 1,700 women, following them for two full years. Participants completed questionnaires that rated their menopausal symptoms, perceived level of stress and mindfulness.
And, they found that though women with higher mindfulness scores did experience less irritability, anxiety, and depression, a higher mindfulness score was not associated with lower hot flash and night sweat symptom scores.
That’s a little disappointing for women really bothered by those hallmark symptoms. But if you’re a woman dealing with a lot of stress — which menopause compounds — mindfulness holds the biggest benefits for you….
This study found that the higher a woman’s perceived level of stress, the greater the link between higher mindfulness and reduced symptoms.
Practicing menopause mindfulness
Fortunately, mindfulness is a skill that can be learned.
And one very important reason to give it a try is your heart disease risk and what stress can do to it…
The decline in estrogen during menopause is believed to be a major factor in the increased risk of heart disease in post-menopausal women. In addition to staying active, watching your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers and limiting HRT therapy, Penn Medicine suggests women should be mindful of their stress levels and find effective ways to lower them.
“Essentially, the first step in being mindful is to become aware that our minds are on autopilot most of the time,” Dr. Sood says. “The goal during mindful moments is not to empty the mind, but to become an observer of the mind’s activity while being kind to oneself. The second step is to create a pause. Take a deep breath, and observe one’s own space, thoughts and emotions nonjudgmentally. The resulting calm helps lower stress.”
You can also try the mindful practice of Qigong, an ancient Chinese practice that helps you connect your mind to your body, restore balance and ease menopausal symptoms.
Want to learn more about Qigong? You can read about it in this article: Beat menopause with a 10,000-year-old Chinese secret.
Remember, even though menopause is a natural part of life, that doesn’t mean you have to suffer through your symptoms silently and alone. Take a beat, reflect on your emotions and use mindfulness to lower your stress and symptoms along with it.