This is a guest post by Becks Armstrong. Becks is the creator of Clarity: an app to improve women’s health through mindfulness, relaxation and sleep.
At the moment you can’t pick up a newspaper or magazine without a reference to mindfulness. At times it can feel like it’s a catch-all panacea for everything that’s going on for us in the modern world.
But what is it and what can it do for you during menopause?
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a form of meditation (as is transcendental, zen and even yoga). Mindfulness in particular is where you take a moment out of your day to purposefully stop what you’re doing, focus on your breathing and tune into your body and how it’s feeling right now, without any judgement – just observing.
It’s not a long form of meditation, in fact you can spend as little as 2 minutes a day in your practice. Who doesn’t have 2 minutes? (If you can sit daily for 10-15 minutes the better the benefits.)
When was the last time you just stopped and didn’t judge an event, action or pain? While it’s easy to say it’s actually a little trickier to do (which is why we call it practicing mindfulness).
We know that the world is getting busier and that our stress levels are increasing. The problem with this increase is that it has a direct impact on our menopausal symptoms.
Because a lot of the symptoms of menopause can affect your mental health (feeling overwhelmed, irritability, anxiety and lack of sleep to name just a few) the higher your stress levels are the bigger the impact on your daily life and wellbeing.
That’s where practicing mindfulness comes in.
There are a few interesting studies that have shown how mindfulness can impact how you feel about your menopausal symptoms, for instance hot flushes or generalised anxiety or even improving your sex drive.
Learning to take the time out to connect with your breath and observe thoughts without judgement can help you lower your stress levels and improve some of your symptoms. This can be in severity but also in frequency.
The trick is you need to practice mindfulness daily – and I say trick because we can remember to take a pill daily but for some reason we don’t prioritise our wellbeing to focus on our breath as consistently.
Will it cure my menopausal symptoms?
Sadly there is no one thing that will “fix” or “cure” all of your menopausal symptoms, though there are many small lifestyle changes or medication to make an impact on how you’re feeling.
The beauty of mindfulness is another tool in your armoury. It doesn’t matter if you’re taking HRT, alternative remedies or nothing at all, you can still be mindful.
Your attitude can make a real difference
Fun fact: the attitude that you have going in to your menopause transition will affect your experience of it. For instance the more fearful or panicked you feel as a hot flush starts, the more intense they will be. That’s why I created InstaCool – listening to the session will help you learn to welcome the rush of warmth in and then balance your body with cool imagery. Leaving you feeling positive post flush.
More and more research is being carried out about how your mindset can impact things like sleep, your understanding or feelings of pain and also loneliness. Taking small but consistent steps towards a more positive mind set from even the darkest space will help you to feel better.
Building a daily gratitude practice in every night as you go to bed, for instance, can help stop the re-run of the day’s stressors as you fall asleep. Allowing your mind to relax and put you into a deeper and more restful sleep.
So don’t we all breathe already?
There is a big difference between the breathing that we do during our day and mindfully taking a nice slow deep breath in and a longer and relaxing slow breath out. It’s similar to what you do in a deep sleep.
Sadly most of us don’t breathe in this deeper way because of the onslaught of our day to day activity. Running around after everyone else and giving yourself no time to just stop and focus on your breath.
Have you ever said you don’t have time to do meditation? Many of the symptoms of menopause can be psychological (feeling overwhelmed, brain fog, anxiety, or insomnia anyone?). It makes you feel like your brain is literally full or exhausted. By managing to practice mindfulness daily you will find that you don’t feel as tired, that you can prioritise better and it is easier to focus.
The scientific research on the benefits of mindfulness and taking some time out to slow your breathing is really compelling – it helps with focus, improving anxiety, helping us sleep. It can even increase your body satisfaction. Who wouldn’t want that?
So how do you start?
I created Clarity with a lot of help from women that are either perimenopausal or menopausal. I created a 10 day introduction to help you understand how to do it – all you have to do is decide to make the time to listen daily. They are all under 10 minutes so set an alert on your phone to put the time aside.
From there you can find what you need by symptom (the star) or by checking out the packs on the app to find one you’d like to try.
I know that menopause is a rocky time for many women and with daily practice I hope you can (at the very least) start padding the edges a little.
To help you along with your practice I’m delighted to offer you a one month voucher to the app. Just go to https://voucher.clarity.app/ and put in the code CFA-WW to get the access.
Becks Armstrong has dedicated her life and career working towards improving the lives of women of all ages and in all situations. She leads Clarity now to create awareness and support for the issues that uniquely affect women getting ready for and going through menopause..
As an experienced COO in high-growth tech start-ups in London as well as being a degree educated acupuncturist, Chinese medicine practitioner, mindfulness coach and doula, Becks combines operational excellence with a deep understanding of women.