Reducing Stress is the Key
Updated: 4 days ago
Reducing stress is a key component to feeling and performing your best through menopause. Anxiety is a common symptom of menopause. Hormone changes, life stresses, and sleep problems may all cause anxiety at this time. Conversely, anxiety can worsen sleep disturbance. In addition to generalized anxiety, menopausal women may also experience sudden, intense panic attacks.
Take a deep breath.
A recent report from Stanford University found that daily 5-min breathwork exercises produces greater improvement in mood and reduction in respiratory rate compared with mindfulness meditation over 1 month. Overall, breathwork was more effective than mindfulness meditation in improving positive affect, an effect that got larger with more adherence to the protocol. (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xcrm.2022.100895)
The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) recommends practicing this simple breathing method to reduce stress throughout the day:
- Sit in a straight-backed chair with both feet on the floor.
- Rest your hands on your abdomen.
- Slowly count to four while inhaling through your nose and feeling your abdomen rise.
- Hold that breath for a second.
- Then slowly count to four while exhaling through your mouth and letting your abdomen slowly fall.
- Repeat this exercise five to ten times.
According to reputable scientific sources, the Komusō Design mindful breathing necklace (The Shift) reduces stress and anxiety by decreasing stress hormones and reducing blood pressure. Those familiar with Japanese history or culture might have seen some version of a komusō, or “priest of nothingness.” The komusō became known for their long bamboo flutes, called shakuhachi. The komusō used the shakuhachi as a religious instrument, in contrast to the quietude or recited mantras that other sects used in meditation. The Shift is a smaller and stainless-steel version of the skakuhachi and can be worn around your neck as an inconspicuous pendant for easy access throughout the day. The company spent a year working with a psychotherapist and meditation experts to engineer the exact right length and circumference for the perfect exhale.
Here’s how to get the most out of your Shift:
When you sense anxiety creeping up, get your Shift ready.
Inhale deeply through your nose for about 3 seconds, filling your stomach with air and trying not to raise your shoulders.
Pause for a second after inhaling, then exhale naturally through The Shift. The device will slow your exhale to extend to 8-10 seconds.
Repeat as needed.
Anxiety related to menopause and perimenopause tends to fade once the body’s hormonal system stabilizes. Unfortunately, this can take months, or even years. Following a proactive plan that includes healthy lifestyle choices and proactive stress reduction practices is often enough to diminish mood swings. If you need additional support, medical intervention (prescription drugs and/or counseling) may be your best option. Talk with your doctor about whether those options are right for you.
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