How Relaxation Techniques Can Reduce Menopause Symptoms
Because stress can make the symptoms of menopause worse, it is important to learn how to relax.
One of the things I notice most frequently is how little attention we generally pay to our stress levels. It’s almost as if we take it for granted as it is such a constant presence in our lives these days.
Make no mistake about this: stress affects every single part of your body and your hormones are certainly no exception. If your hot flushes or poor sleep are suddenly worse it could well be stress that is impacting you and learning to relax is a key way to deal with this.
In order to learn how to relax during menopause or any other time, you need to become familiar with your own breathing patterns and change them in ways that will help you relax and unfortunately that pattern is often disrupted by changes in emotion.
If you are anxious you tend to hold your breath and speak in a high-pitched voice as you exhale, but if you are depressed then you tend to sigh and speak in a low-pitched voice as you exhale.
Below are a few relaxation exercises and there are a couple of basic ground rules that will make it easier for you. First find a quiet location that is free of distractions, a comfortable body position, and a good state of mind. It’s not always easy, but do try to block out worries and distracting thoughts, and you don’t need to sit cross legged on the floor. Find a comfortable upright sitting position in a chair, or lay down flat on your bed or on a carpet.
Rhythmic breathing: If your breathing is short and hurried, slow it down by taking long, slow breaths. Inhale slowly then exhale slowly. Count slowly to five as you inhale, and then count slowly to five as you exhale. As you exhale slowly, pay attention to how your body naturally relaxes. Recognizing this change will help you to relax even more.
Deep breathing: Imagine a spot just below your navel. Breathe into that spot, filling your abdomen with air. Let the air fill you from the abdomen up, then let it out, like deflating a balloon. With every long, slow exhalation, you should feel more relaxed.
Visualized breathing: Find a comfortable place where you can close your eyes, and combine slowed breathing with your imagination. Picture relaxation entering your body and tension leaving your body. Breathe deeply, but in a natural rhythm.
Visualize your breath coming into your nostrils, going into your lungs and expanding your chest and abdomen. Then, visualize your breath going out the same way. Continue breathing, but each time you inhale, imagine that you are breathing in more relaxation. Each time you exhale imagine that you are getting rid of a little more tension.
If you are feeling anxious then another technique as you slowly breathe in and out is to imagine your worries as clouds that drift across the sky, passing in front of you drifting away.
Progressive muscle relaxation: Switch your thoughts to yourself and your breathing. Take a few deep breaths, exhaling slowly. Mentally scan your body. Notice areas that feel tense or cramped. Quickly loosen up these areas. Let go of as much tension as you can. Roll your head in a smooth, circular motion once or twice. (Stop any movements that cause pain!)
Roll your shoulders forward and backward several times. Let all of your muscles completely relax. Recall a pleasant thought for a few seconds. Take another deep breath and exhale slowly. You should feel relaxed.
Relax to music: Combine relaxation exercises with your favorite music in the background. Select the type of music that lifts your mood or that you find soothing or calming. Some people find it easier to relax while listening to specially designed relaxation audio tapes, which provide music and relaxation instructions.
Mental imagery relaxation: Mental imagery relaxation, or guided imagery, is a proven form of focused relaxation that helps create harmony between the mind and body. Guided imagery coaches you in creating calm, peaceful images in your mind — a “mental escape.” Identify your self-talk, that is, what you are saying to yourself about what is going on with you.
It is important to identify negative self-talk and develop healthy, positive self-talk. By making affirmations, you can counteract negative thoughts and emotions. Here are some examples of positive statements you can practice, but do make it personal to you as that will be more effective.
- I let go of things I cannot control.
- There is nothing in the world I cannot handle.
- I am completely safe.
One other thing you can check is if you have good progesterone levels as that is the hormone that helps us relax, and your diet too can improve your mood – or make it worse.