Lifestyle Changes for Menopause
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Lifestyle: You are Not Alone

Handling Anger, Depression and Stress
Emotional Support
Loving yourself and Affirmations
Aromatherapy
Other things you can do

THE TRANSITION

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 menopause–doing 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.

HANDLING ANGER, DEPRESSION AND STRESS

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 one’s 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:

  1.  Going to a qualified professional for counseling.
  2.  Restructuring your environment to make it less stressful.
  3.  Learning relaxation and stress-reduction techniques.
  4.  Eating a low-stress diet and exercising.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

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.

LOVING YOURSELF AND AFFIRMATIONS

There are things you can do to boost self-confidence and contentment:

  Create a lifestyle that nurtures you and gives you pleasure.  
  Surround yourself at work and home with pictures, plants, color and music that appeals.  
  Work more slowly when your energy begins to drag  
  Get a pet, or form new bonds with women’s support groups and friends.  
  Read inspirational books.  
  Learn to ‘be still’ and relax. Let go of a sense of urgency.  
  Meditate.  
  Resolve difficult intimate relationships and assess your own needs.  
  Repeat affirmations.  

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:

  Menopause is a healthy and happy time for me.  
  I love my body as it goes through menopause.  
  My body becomes healthier each day.  
  My hormones are perfectly balanced and regulated.  
  My bones and joints are strong and healthy.  
  I love my body.  
  I eat the foods that keep my body strong and healthy.  

Add a dozen more of your own. You don’t have to memorize them…. Just read them and believe.

AROMATHERAPY

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:

Aromatic diffuser used for environmental fragrancing
Bath mix essential oil with an emulsifier, a handful of liquid soap, or milk, then put in water
Massage add essential oils to canola, sweet almond, sesame, grapeseed and/or safflower oils
Compresses add essential oils to an emulsifier first, then mix in water
Direct inhalation put drops in hot water, cover head with towel, and inhale
Inhalation put a few drops on a cotton ball or a tissue, and inhale; OR put a couple of drops in your palm, rub your palms together, and hold the hands cupped over the nose, inhaling deeply for a few minutes
Facial sauna prepare direct inhalation and allow steam to penetrate skin
Household cleaning put a few drops of lemon, citronella, tea tree or eucalyptus in your cleaning solution. Your house will smell of a refreshing forest and you will benefit by inhaling the oils all day long.

For more on aromatherapy, visit our Aromatherapy for Menopause page.

OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO

There are other things that we can do to alleviate symptoms associated with menopause:

  •  Massage therapy
  •  Acupressure massage
  •  Neurovascular and neurolymphatic massage
  •  Acupuncture
  •  Hypnotherapy
  •  Hydrotherapy
  •  Sound therapy
  •  Light therapy

For more information about complementary / alternative medicine, click here and follow the links that interest you.

REFERENCES:

Davis, Patricia. Aromatherapy: An A-Z: The Most Comprehensive Guide to Aromatherapy Ever Published. Random House UK; Revised edition (October 4, 2005). ISBN-13: 978-0091906610
Lark, Susan M. The Menopause Self Help Book. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts, 1990. ISBN 0-89087-592-8
Lark, Susan M. Women's Health Companion Self-Help Nutrition Guide and Cookbook. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts, 1995, paperback 1996. ISBN 0-89087-733-5
Price, Shirley. Aromatherapy for Common Ailments. Fireside, Simon & Schuster Inc., Gaia Books Ltd., London, 1991, ISBN 0-671-73134-3. 
Scholes, Michael. Aromatherapy - Answers to the Most Commonly Asked Questions. Aromatherapy Seminars, Aromapress Intl., 1993.

 

For more information about managing your menopause, see these topics on Project AWARE:

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Updated 09/29/2010