Self relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, visual imagery and progressive muscle relaxation can help to relieve menopausal symptoms but they can take a bit of practice to develop.
Menopause signifies a period of transition in a woman’s life marked by increased anxiety and other symptoms of stress and discomfort. It is essential to oppose these feelings because of the possible side effects they may cause. Anxiety and stress can lead to insomnia, depression and problems with weight management. Night sweats are one of the most common symptoms of menopause and can lead to a disrupted sleep pattern and insomnia.
One way you can manage insomnia during menopause is through self relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises and other relaxation tools.
Self relaxation techniques such as visual imagery triggers responses of the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls body processes such as digestion and sleep.
If you are deprived of sleep you will usually experience fatigue and drowsiness and you will be inactive throughout the day. Lack of sleep can cause accidents, affect your judgement, relationships, health, mental health and make you feel disconnected.
Self Relaxation Techniques
- Lie down on your back and relax your body. Close your eyes and place your hands on your belly
- Breathe in (inhale) through your nose and fill your lower chest first and the top part of your chest and lungs next (notice how your abdomen expands with your breath)
- Hold your breath for a few seconds – no more – then gently relax and let the air out from your lungs (exhale). You will feel your abdomen get smaller as you release all the breath from your lungs
- Relax for 5-10 seconds and repeat
- Continue these steps until you fall asleep
- Doing this exercise for just 5 minutes can also have significant effects on your blood pressure and your heart rate
If you find yourself becoming dizzy – you need to slow down.
Imagine you are in a peaceful place like a solitary walk along a beach with only the sounds of the waves or on a boat in the middle of the sea – whatever works for you.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This technique was devised by Dr Jacobson, a Physiologist, primarily to aid anxiety, however,it has proved to be a useful sleeping technique. This technique does require some practice but the more you develop it the more effective it will become. This is a technique that I use myself and it took me around six months to develop it.
Lie down on your back and close your eyes. Starting at your toes, tense all your muscles as tightly as you can,then completely relax and sink back into your bed. Work your way up from your feet to your knees, upper legs (both thighs) abdomen and chest, buttock cheeks, hands, upper arms, roll your shoulders around and then relax them, stretch your neck gently and then continue tensing and relaxing your head, jaw and eyes, relaxing and sinking back into your bed after every muscle group.
Visualise a peaceful, restful place. Close your eyes and imagine a place or activity that is calming and peaceful for you. Concentrate on how relaxed this place or activity makes you feel. Return here when you need to. As you use this place more often you will find it easier to fall asleep as the imagery will become your sleep conditioner.
- Lie on your back and relax. Close your eyes
- Place your hands behind your head and ensure they are relaxed and loose Gently, place your thumbs in your ears so that you close the ear canal. You will hear a high pitched rushing noise – don’t worry this is normal
- Listen to this sound for about 5-10 minutes
- Afterwards place your hands by your side and go to sleep.
By alternately tensing and relaxing your toes, you actually draw tension from the rest of your body.
- Lie on your back and close your eyes
- Sense your toes (be aware of them)
- Pull all 10 toes back towards your face
- Count to 10 slowly and relax your toes, again counting to 10 slowly
- Repeat the above 5 times
Engage Your Mind In Spelling Or Counting
Engage your mind in something unimportant like spelling or counting backwards. The secret is to numb your brain by making it perform a mind numbing monotonous task.
Try one or two of these self relaxation techniques and practice and persevere for a while. If they don’t work for you try one or two more until you find something that you are comfortable with and then develop.
There are plenty of free downloads available to help you. You will find a number of books, audio materials and videos available on and offline.
Other Self Relaxation Techniques
Mastering Yoga or even in the early stages of learning yoga can be an effective weapon in the fight against insomnia. There are many forms of yoga but essentially they are all a form of workout for your mind and body bringing them together to promote wellbeing and harmony. Hatha Yoga is probably the best for beginners. Seek out a class in your area or download online.
The corpse is a Yoga pose which is often carried out at the end of a session as a way of winding down. Try it before you go to bed:-
Lie on your back with your legs and arms slightly outstretched, palms resting on the floor. Think only of good, positive, nice things. If you feel tension in your limbs as if you want to stretch them out, imagine you are extremely heavy and that the floor is supporting you. Do this for at least 5 minutes.
Meditation is a time efficient way of dealing with issues between the physical and mental stresses of the day and the deep sleep needed to be able to function during the waking hours.
- Prepare a quiet, bland space and sit in a straight backed chair
- Place a hand on your stomach
- Concentrate on the sensation of your lungs filling with air as you take long slow breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth
- Once you feel your stomach rise and fall under your hand you know that its working
One of the benefits is to clear your mind of all the worries of the world and this will come eventually, even it, at first your mind is flooded with them. It may help to concentrate on the sensation of your breathing or a singular item such as the sun, the moon, a flower, a palm tree, a sunset…
Here you will find an article written by Helen Breward, International Hypnotherapist & Speaker and Pioneer of the nationally and internationally recognised Menopause Relief Programme.
Massage is one of the oldest healing traditions. One of the immediate benefits of regular massage is a feeling of calm and deep relaxation – effects which last longer after the massage is over.
Aromatherapy is the practice of using natural oils to enhance psychological and physical well-being. The inhaled aroma is believed to stimulate brain function. Absorbed through the skin, they travel through the bloodstream and can promote whole-body healing. Uses include pain relief, mood enhancement and increased cognitive function. You can achieve the benefits of natural essential oils by mixing and using the oils yourself or you can have a regular aromatherapy massage.
Relaxation tips to relieve stress. Retrieved from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/ways-relieve-stress.aspx
Relaxation techniques: Try these steps to reduce stress. (2014) Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/relaxation-technique/art-20045368
Orenstein, B. W. (2012) With menopause comes stress. Makes these simple lifestyle changes and you can learn to rela and enjoy not having any more periods. Retrieved from http://www.everydayhealth.com/menopause/ways-to-relax-during-menopause.aspx
What is Aromatherapy? Retrieved from http://www.aromatherapy.com/