Anxiety is one of the most common symptoms associated with perimenopause yet so many of us miss the connection. Or, if it is recognized, we are simply sent away with anti-depressants and told to get on with it.
Anxiety rears its ugly head at this stage of life due to an imbalance and fluctuation of estrogen progesterone in the body. It’s thought that these changes may influence neurotransmitters in the brain. The drop in estrogen levels in particular can also lead to hot flashes that disturb sleep, which can then lead to anxiety and mood swings.
The symptoms of anxiety may vary from one woman to the next but largely they are rooted in fear, worry, stress and tension. These are all perfectly normal feelings but not when they begin to dominate our thought patterns and affect our daily life.
Finding work challenging, not wanting leave the house or socialize, the fear of travelling, the inability to make changes, second guessing the future, re-examining the past, always fearing the worst, feeling redundant as a parent and not being able to recognize ourselves are all typical feelings of anxiety during perimenopause.
Perimenopausal anxiety can also be exacerbated as it comes at a time when we are struggling with other symptoms too; lack of sleep, weight gain, brain fog, joint aches and pains, and hot flashes to name but a few. However, it can also coincide with other stressful events such as divorce, the loss of loved ones, adjusting to an empty nest, and caring for elderly parents.
So, how does yoga help?
If you’ve never been exposed to yoga before, you may be quite skeptical of it, and that’s ok – I was too. At its simplest level, yoga combines physical movement (poses) with controlled breathing and relaxation to improve our mental wellbeing.
Above all else, yoga helps us to stay cool, calm, and collected – especially Restorative yoga – as it is intentionally designed to release tension, increase relaxation, and focus on the present. By tapping into our parasympathetic nervous system through controlled breathing, we can bring calm and stillness when the rest of the world is spinning; enabling us to relax and reduce anxiety.
On a physical level, movement of the body also helps us to release negative emotions such as fear, anger, trauma and guilt that our bodies can hold on to for years. Through yoga, we can release these unwanted tensions and emotions, leaving us feeling lighter and calmer.
What about meditation?
Meditation is also beneficial in perimenopause as it helps us to slow down the mind and become more aware of our breath. Over time, it enables us to become an observer of our thought patterns and to identify and silence our inner critic which can be a major cause of much of our negative thinking. When practiced consistently, building self-awareness and cultivating positivity helps to lower our stress and anxiety levels.
Sadly, there’s no magic wand to make anxiety vanish but by introducing a regular yoga and meditation practice, we can begin to relax our bodies and calm our minds so that we are better able to manage perimenopause. Moreover, it can bring the joy of reconnecting and rediscovering ourselves.
If you are struggling with anxiety in perimenopause and would like to know how yoga can help, click here to obtain a copy of my FREE e-book . This demonstrates a selection of Restorative yoga poses that bring relief to anxiety, overwhelm stress and fatigue.
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.