Relaxation is a critical component in my programme. This doesn’t mean chilling out in front of the television watching Netflix but setting aside time for formal relaxation.
It can have huge benefits at this time of life, especially for women with busy or stressful lives. And luckily, the ability to be still, experience gratitude, and appreciate the beauty in our surroundings is Mother Nature’s gift to us. We can all do it, and it costs nothing, but it pays enormous dividends. A daily twenty-minute relaxation session can reduce hot flushes by up to 60 percent.
When we feel stressed and wound up, relaxation may not come easily, or we may feel that we don’t have time for it. But relaxation rests our brain, making it more efficient, as well as giving us an energy boost.
It’s not uncommon to find it difficult to switch off. In my experience, formal relaxation or meditation quiets the mind, but it is an acquired skill. So don’t be too hard on yourself if your mind keeps running in the fast lane when you first attempt to practise formal
Relaxation techniques. It’s like building new muscles: it takes time.
You can choose from a whole range of practices and techniques to help you rest and relax. These include yoga, creative visualisation, mindfulness meditation, qi gong, cognitive behaviour therapy, and tai chi.
In addition, there are apps, like Pzizz and Headspace, that can coach you through structured relaxation or meditation sessions or just provide a soothing audio background for relaxation. I have personally used Pzizz for years which has helped me through the most stressful times. The app developed by neuroscientists, can aid relaxation as well as sleep. To download Pzizz for yourself go to https://pzizz.com/buy and use our discount code BESTPZIZZ.
Yoga has been practised for thousands of years. It works on the principle that the mind and body need to be working in perfect harmony for optimal health. To help you achieve this, yoga uses asana (poses that relax muscles) and pranayama (breathing techniques that
improve oxygen flow and calm the body). It is best to attend a yoga class to learn the basic poses and get feedback from an instructor; you can then practise at home regularly.
Pilates, developed in the 1920s, is another form of mind-body training. Pilates combines breathing techniques and exercises to build strength, balance, coordination, bodily and spatial awareness, and flexibility. As with yoga, you should go to some classes to learn the technique before practising at home.
Tai chi, an ancient Chinese form of movement, was originally developed as a self-defence discipline but has evolved into a graceful form of exercise that can reduce stress and
increase both physical and mental well-being. Often described as moving meditation, it
involves a series of flowing movements performed in a slow and focused way, accompanied by deep breathing. It’s a self-paced and gentle form of physical exercise.
Tai chi can improve posture, balance, flexibility, and strength. In addition, it has been shown to boost mood, reduce joint pain, strengthen the immune system, and improve heart health.
In recent years mindfulness has become a widespread practice. The founder of mindfulness meditation, Jon Kabat-Zinn, gives this definition: “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” It can be practised as we go about our day as well as during focused mindfulness meditation sessions.
Like many other disciplines, mindfulness is an acquired skill. There are many good mindfulness books and apps, including the Mindfulness Daily app, which cues you to pause at intervals during the day to practice mindfulness. Many research studies have shown that mindfulness has significant health benefits, including lowering the stress hormone cortisol levels, reducing the prevalence of heart disease and depression. Mindfulness can even help us at the time of menopause by reducing hot flushes and levels of anxiety and inducing more peaceful sleep.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, is a form of talking therapy and behaviour
modification based on the fact that thoughts, feelings, attitudes, actions, and physical well-being are all connected. If we change one of these, we can alter the others. It connects what we think to what we do.
When we feel worried or distressed, which are common feelings during menopause, we often fall into patterns of thinking and responding that can worsen how we feel. CBT can help us notice and change problematic thinking styles and behaviour patterns. The North American Menopause Society recommends it as a low-risk treatment for hot flashes and other physical and psychological menopause symptoms.
This simple, enjoyable way to relax requires little or no training and is ideal if you are short on time. This is all you need to do:
- Lie flat on the floor with your head supported — or, if you are at work or travelling, find a quiet space where you can sit and relax.
- Bend your knees, keeping your feet flat on the floor.
- Close your eyes, breathe steadily and slowly while consciously relaxing your face, fingers, arms, legs, and toes.
- Continue to breathe slowly and steadily. Start to visualise something you fancy — anything from a world cruise to a wonderful night out. The trick is to keep your mind focused on your fantasy for as long as you can. After fifteen to twenty minutes, bring yourself gently back to reality, rolling onto your side before standing up.
Creative visualisation requires practice, and you may have to work at it before you feel the full benefits. If your mind is hectic, it can help to jot down your intrusive thoughts on paper before you start so that you can stay focused on your fantasy.
Are you feeling demotivated?
Have you lost your mojo?
Are you feeling tired and achy or old before your time?
Are you scared because you can't think straight or lose track of what you were saying mid sentence?
Have you put so much weight on and your clothes are tight?