In spite of several vaccines, Covid 19 is still running riot and sadly new mutations continue to appear. The future still looks uncertain and the feeling of normality is fast becoming a distant memory. Such is the impact of Covid that many of us have never resumed our regular work patterns, with many having lost their jobs.
Whenever our lives, and those of our loved ones no longer feel safe, it’s human nature for panic, fear, and anxiety to take over. We may feel helpless about what may happen, what we can do to keep ourselves safe and feel anxious about the loss of normality. Add menopause to the mix, and we have a hot mess of anxiety and stress.
Menopause is renowned for causing anxiety and fear. The constant fluctuations of hormones leave us feeling out of sorts with a racing anxious mind, negative thought patterns, frustration and even anger . So much so, that often we no longer recognize who we have become. However, menopausal anxiety during uncertain and stressful times as brought about by Coronovirus takes stress to a whole new level. A deadly combination of both seriously take its toll on our physical and mental wellbeing.
When our minds are in constant turmoil, our bodies also become tense. Our breathing becomes more shallow, almost like we are holding our breath. We may notice a rising frustration and even anger with those who flout the rules of lock-down or who are panic-buying, or with the media who are relentlessly bombarding us with sensationalized updates. We have the elderly and infirm to worry about, not to mention juggling our jobs and looking after children now that many schools are still not back to normal.
So how can we rise above it all?
Whilst we may not be able to control outside events, we can try to control our responses to them. Here are five suggestions to help cope with the ongoing worry of Covid whilst battling menopausal symptoms.
Stay present. It’s natural to worry about what may happen in the future, but in reality, there’s little we can do to control what may or may not, happen; other than all the obvious suggestions which we are already tired of hearing. So, when you find yourself worrying about something that hasn’t yet happened, catch yourself and immediately bring your focus back to the present. Try to connect with your breathing, even count your inhales and exhales. Count to four whilst inhaling and count to six whilst exhaling. By lengthening the exhalation, you can bring your mind and body into a state of calmness. Focus on this type of breathing for 5-10 rounds. By focusing intently on your breath, you will distract your mind from worrying, and even better, you will help lower your heart rate and your stress levels.
Put your feet up: Literally, find a wall in the house where you can lie with your legs up for 10 – 20 minutes. Close the door to any distractions, tune into some gentle music, and even light one of your favorite candles. As well as calming the nervous system and easing muscle fatigue, this simple posture will help you regain your composure. Try to get as near to the wall as possible by using a bolster or blanket underneath your bottom. Enter the pose with your body side on to the wall and then swing your legs up. Ideally, your legs should be straight up; so experiment with the distance between your bottom and the wall until you find a position that works. If you can’t manage this, try raising your legs onto a chair, or lie on your bed and swing them up against the headboard.
Mindfulness: Just five minutes of mindfulness meditation will relax both your mind and body. Find a space where you won’t be disturbed. You don’t have to be seated, just comfortable. Now, close your eyes and relax. Take a few deep breaths and scan your body for any tension. Try to visualize the tension leaving your body and melting away as you send your breath there. It’s impossible to switch off your mind completely, so when thoughts do crop up, gently acknowledge them, let them go, and return to the present moment. Don’t get too focused on whether you’re doing it right. There is no right or wrong. If you can’t find a dedicated time or space, practice this whilst in traffic, walking the dog, or whilst waiting in line for groceries.
Embrace the opportunity: Obviously, the most important thing we can do is to stay safe and follow all advice about this virus. However, if your daily life is disrupted and you can no longer get to the gym, cinema, shopping mall, or to your favorite restaurant, why not capitalize on this situation and tackle some of the jobs that you never get around to doing? You could even make the most of doing something that you really enjoy or have promised yourself that you will always do; such as reading, playing your favorite musical instrument, or painting. After all, if you don’t do these things now with this extra time you have on your hands, when will you ever do them? Start writing that novel that you’ve promised yourself. De-clutter. Paint the kitchen.
Roll out your mat: Yoga is a great choice for helping your physical and mental state in times like these; for as well as being therapeutic for our nervous system, it helps alleviate some of the physical symptoms caused by rising stress levels. Yoga can help relax your whole body and certain postures can also have a deeply calming effect on the mind such as forward bends and inversions. Studies also show that yoga can help lower both your blood pressure and heart rate. In addition, it also helps release unwanted tension and emotions; leaving you feeling lighter and calmer.
So, when you next feel your anxiety levels rising, use any or all of these tools to help restore calmness. Even better, why not practice them on a daily basis? That way, you will respond to any challenges in your life from a more relaxed and calm place, rather than reacting with fear and anxiety. Remember, your response to all of this uncertainty and worry is the one thing that you CAN control. Try to stay firmly anchored in the present - it's all we have - and cut yourself some slack. These are unprecedented times and we can only take one day at a time.
If, on top of everything else, you are also going through menopause and would like to know how yoga can help, download a copy of my FREE e-book . This demonstrates a selection of yummy restorative yoga poses that help bring relief to menopausal symptoms.
You can also join our Facebook group Yoga for Peri/Menopause and enjoy free tips, advice, yoga sequences, classes and meet other like-minded women who are undergoing the same challenges.