Simple Ways To Find Peace of Mind During Perimenopause

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New research has revealed that 9 in 10 women admit they have suffered mental health issues at the beginning of their perimenopause transition.

The study, by menopause health specialists Health & Her, showed than 8 in 10 (86%) of the perimenopausal women surveyed reported low energy, lack of motivation, anxiety, low mood, depression, anger spikes and feelings of worthlessness.

More than a third (37%) haven’t sought any help for the changes, with 80% revealing that they haven’t even talked to their partner about the symptoms and feelings they are going through.

Dr Rebeccah Tomlinson, menopause specialist GP at Health & Her and registered member of the British Menopause Society, is encouraging women to talk about these psychological challenges that come with the perimenopause.

“Some of the most challenging menopause symptoms are the ones you can’t see,” said Dr Tomlinson. “Perimenopause itself is rarely discussed, let alone the mental health symptoms that come with it.

“Perimenopause is characterised by highly variable fluctuations in oestrogen. Oestrogen impacts brain structure, connectivity, energy metabolism and amyloid-beta deposition. These fluctuations have been directly related to heightened feelings of depression, anxiety and stress,” she adds.

“In fact, brain imaging studies have demonstrated that women undergo the largest structural changes in the brain during perimenopause, and there is also some evidence that lowering oestrogen levels may be linked to lowering levels of serotonin, a very important chemical in the brain that is closely linked with our mood and emotions.

“The most important thing to remember is that you aren’t alone and there are many ways in which you can help manage the changes.”

Dr Tomlinson shares some tips on how to manage perimenopause and find peace of mind

Talk: Talk to other women, and those around you, about how you are feeling. Hearing different experiences is very helpful for normalising what you’re going through and stopping you feeling isolated.  If you’re mental health symptoms are severe and making it hard for you to get out of bed, or do regular tasks then seek professional help. A GP can offer suitable treatments to help you feel like yourself again.

Look after yourself: Boosting your mood can help you cope better with feeling of stress and anxiety. Plan activities that help you unwind and feel more positive. Try a relaxing bath with your favourite oils and beauty products, take a day off to do just what you want to do, spend the whole day with a close friend, or go for a massage or facial.

If you’re pressed for time, try taking just half an hour to have a cup of tea and read a book, or listen to your favourite podcast or music.

Regular bedtime routine:  On average, at least 1 in 2 women have difficulty falling asleep, or waking up during the night, throughout the menopausal transition. Try maintaining regular wake up times especially over the weekends. Cut down on stimulants like coffee and alcohol and try to get active during the day to improve quality of sleep, or try a supplement such as Health & Her Sleep+ Multi-Nutrient Supplement, £19.99 for 30 capsules.

Be selfish: Take time to care for yourself and recover. This means putting yourself and your needs first. This might not come naturally so if you’re used to taking caring of others before yourself, make a conscious effort to reverse this pattern. Try to think about the advice you would give to a friend or perhaps how you would look after a child, and apply that to yourself instead.

Be mindful: Mindfulness, very simply put, is awareness. Knowing what is happening mentally, emotionally and physically in each moment, and then making choices in how you respond, rather than being at the mercy of quick reactions.

Take a few moments to stop, breathe and allow everything to settle. By doing this, you engage the calming parasympathetic nervous system, slowing your heart rate and easing muscle tension.

Consider counselling: Counselling gives you the chance to talk about how you are feeling in a safe space and get a different perspective on what’s happening to you. The counsellor will also be able to help you understand the biological changes that are happening to you, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by them.

Dr Rebecca Tomlinson

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Felicity Donohoe