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Lifestyle: You are Not Alone
by Joan McPhee, MH, WT
The years of menopausal change signal the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. Menopause heralds a metamorphosis (complete change at the cellular level), an end to our reproductive years, and a new wisdom. It is appropriate to turn away from caretaking during the process, and to focus on our own needs. Our journey will be much more rewarding if we pay attention to nourishing and tonifying our entire hormonal system, increasing intake of calcium-rich foods, taking time for solitude, relaxing, spending time with a journal, experimenting with foods, moving, dancing, walking and restoring depleted energy through meditation or energy therapies.
The general concepts of healing are especially appropriate during menopausedoing nothing, prayer, homeopathic remedies, crying, visualizations, herbal infusions, love, massage, supplementation, laughter, color, aromatherapy, healthy foods, exercise. We are never too old to need these things.
Anger is part of depression, and it can change our body chemistry in a negative way. To help dissolve anger or depression, try making a list of things you are angry about. Massage, floating in water (swimming pool or hot tub), or taking a relaxing bath, listening to a relaxation tape, doing slow deep breathing for several minutes, doing the yoga "corpse pose" all help us learn how to find inner stillness and quiet and peaceful mind.
The Bach remedies Wild Rose, Larch, Mustard, Gorse and Gentian taken together may help relieve apathy, resignation, despondency, inferiority, despair, hopelessness, discouragement, self-doubt and intense descending gloom. Homeopathic remedies for depression include Arum metallicum, Sepia and Calms Forte. Try sitting in sunlight for 15 minutes a day, or in the light of 6-8 regular fluorescent tubes (2,500 lux) for 30 minutes each day upon wakening. Sing the blues, dance them, or get massage therapy.
Aromatherapy is another way to lift depression. The antidepressant oils are as diverse as the ways in which depression manifests itself. It would be useless to use a very sedative oil when you feel abnormally fatigued or lethargic. On the other hand, if the depression takes on the form of restlessness, irritability and inability to sleep, such an oil may be exactly what is needed. Chamomile, clary sage, lavender, sandalwood and ylang ylang are oils that are both sedative and antidepressant, while bergamot, geranium, melissa and rose can help lift the mood without sedating. Where anxiety is associated with depression, neroli is one of the most valuable oils, and jasmine increases confidence both in ones self and in the likelihood of overcoming difficult circumstances.
Consider help if you are depressed more than two weeks. Susan Lark, MD has found in her practice that stress can be managed in four ways:
Some women may feel like they are on an emotional roller coaster as their hormone levels drop and readjust to a new lower level. In menopausal years the autonomic nervous system can cause emotional upsets as it regulates pulse rate, respiration, muscle tension, glandular function and circulation of the blood. Stress can cause a constant fight-or-flight state of readiness that very rapidly depletes emotional reserves.
Drugs, which are commonly handed out to people suffering emotional distress, merely mask symptoms and never address the causes of upsets. Very serious emotional problems may require strong medication occasionally, but many women are overmedicated. Self-help techniques may relieve their symptoms effectively, and without side effects. In The Menopause Self-Help Book, Dr. Susan Lark provides a list of national self-help groups and newsletters for mid-life women.
A friendly chat with a supportive friend (or anyone experiencing the same things) is sometimes the best emotional support we can find.
There are things you can do to boost self-confidence and contentment:
Repeating affirmations help challenge deeply held negative beliefs about our body things that we would like to change. It is a simple way to change negative and unhappy thoughts to positive thoughts of self-love and acceptance a technique of imaging your body the way you want it to be. Affirmations align your mind with your body, which is vital in determining your state of health.
In Getting Well Again Carl Simonton, a cancer radiation therapist, wrote about using this technique successfully with his patients to restore a strong immune system capable of fighting small, puny cancer (instead of the other way around).
Examples of a few affirmations might be:
Add a dozen more of your own. You dont have to memorize them . Just read them and believe.
Essential oils are fragrant, highly concentrated, volatile extracts from plants. They are found in the leaf, fruit, wood, root, seed and flower. Essential oils are part of the plant's own immune system with the plant producing more essence under stress. Containing the life force of the plant from which it comes, essential oils work in harmony with the body and give a sense of balance and well-being.
Since the use of essential oils, incense, and perfumes began, it has been believed that they could heal the body, alter moods, stir memories, arouse sexual desire and generally improve the quality of life.
Inhalation, application and baths are the principal methods used to encourage essential oils to enter the body. They are highly volatile, evaporating readily on exposure to air, and when inhaled may enter the body via the olfactory system. When diluted and applied externally, essential oil molecules can permeate the skin. They are noted for their antiseptic properties and their ability to restore balance to both body and mind.
How essential oils can be used in daily life:
For more on aromatherapy, visit our Aromatherapy for Menopause page.
There are other things that we can do to alleviate symptoms associated with menopause:
For more information about complementary / alternative medicine, click here and follow the links that interest you.
For more information about managing your menopause, see these topics on Project AWARE:
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