Nature has a funny sense of humour; just as I was getting over my youngest child leaving the nest and beginning to get myself back on track, nature decided to throw in perimenopause. Yes, it’s another challenge in our journey of womanhood. Periods can no longer be planned and tend to arrive when we least want them. Our internal thermostats fail at inopportune moments (are you sure the heating isn’t on in here?) and the smallest thing can set off a flood of tears or anxiety. And while I’ve got off lightly, so far, I know of some women who have been completely overwhelmed by the experience. It’s clear that each of us will experience perimenopause differently.
So how do we cope?
I’ve decided to share some of my coping strategies in the hope that it may be of help to others. Today I’ll be talking about mindfulness and how I use it to navigate my way through this challenge.
Jon Kabat-Zinn has proven, through his many studies, that mindfulness can help to reduce stress, pain and anxiety. It increases one’s overall sense of wellbeing. Meditation and a mindful attitude to life can help us to be better connected to the present moment and with ourselves. In this way we can cope better with what is going on in our lives.
I use mindfulness meditation to ground myself. I try to meditate for between 10 to 30 minutes in the morning. This helps me to feel more centred and focused before I tackle my to-do list. It brings a sense of peace and calm. It’s not always easy though – sometimes I find that my mind is jumping around like a grasshopper and I find it difficult to stand back and watch those thoughts as I am too wrapped up in them. This is why it helps to meditate in the morning before the day has time to infiltrate.
At stressful times I use the 3 step breathing space to regain calm before I carry on. It’s a simple technique which can be done in just a few minutes. You gradually bring your focus from the world around with its noises to the rhythm of your breath, calming your thoughts before returning your awareness back out into the world.
Mindfulness meditation can also be used if you are struggling to sleep or if you wake up anxious.
A mindful attitude works wonders. This means accepting that what you are going through ‘is what it is’ and trying not to fight too hard against it. This doesn’t mean resigning yourself to what’s going on, it just means to stop struggling – because what you resist, persists. When you stop struggling you can see the reality of the situation and be calm enough to find a way through.
I’ve found this helpful on the days when I’ve felt tearful for no reason. Instead of trying to suppress my tears, I’ll sometimes have a good cry. I also tell those around me that it’s nothing to worry about, it’s just the hormones in action. Usually this helps and it passes. I’ve also come to realise that on the days when I feel overwhelmed I should never make any serious decisions because my thoughts can’t be trusted.
Talking of thoughts, it’s very easy to get stuck on a theme, turning something over and over in your mind until you’re sick of it. But by trying to focus more on the present moment (for that is all we have) we can gradually put those worries to one side and use that time to enjoy our lives.
If you’d like to try a mini meditation for yourself then check out my resources. It will take you under 5 minutes.
Until then next post,