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Talking about the menopause: symptoms, support and the role of exercise
Talking about the menopause: symptoms, support and the role of exercise

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7 Reducing and managing stress

Everyone experiences and responds to stress differently and stress can come from different sources for each individual. What you find stressful will be hardly noticeable to someone else, and vice versa. And what helps you to relieve your stress will not work for someone else. So when it comes to reducing and managing your stress, there is no one-size-fits-all, however, there are some common approaches that can be helpful. You will be learning more about these in this section.

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In deciding what might work best for you, try to ‘feel into it’. Look for those suggestions that attract you or make you feel good, without trying to rationalise it and without over-thinking.

Calming down your life

In menopause, it’s time to give your body, your mind, and your soul a break. And you can do this in small ways, but they are small ways that can add up to a big difference. We live in a world of constant busyness where time is always short and never enough, where we are bombarded all day long by ‘input’ to our bodies and minds – buy this, do that, look at this, listen to this, be better, and so on.

In reducing stress and the impact of it on our bodies, drawing boundaries can be fundamental. There are many things we can do to reduce what gets inside us and causes stress.

  1. Stop scrolling on your phone. When you scroll, you are asking your brain to process potentially hundreds of snippets of random and incomplete information in different forms (still image, moving image, sound, words). This is extremely stressful. The information highway will continue on without you, and when you take the exit, you might realise it wasn’t the road that was going where you want to go anyway.
  2. Prioritise. Overwhelm affects so many in our modern world and is a strong stressor. If you can’t do everything, identify what is important to you and do only that. If you like, at the end of each day, write down the three things (no more than three) that you will do tomorrow. When you get up in the morning, focus on those three things.
  3. If you can, walk every day, preferably in nature. 20–30 minutes is good. Being outside, walking and breathing the air in green areas, among trees or near water has been shown to be very effective at reducing stress.
  4. Find ways of reducing the number of things that you do. Could you do your shopping online rather than spending an hour or more at the supermarket?
  5. Exercise with intensity several times a week. You will be looking at exercise in detail in Session 4. For now, though, try to add in 3–5 sessions per week of 20 minutes of exercise that makes you a bit sweaty and out of breath.
  6. Schedule time – an hour – every day just for you. This might be time to rest or to do something that you find relaxing. Commit to it by writing it in your diary or daily schedule, and don’t skip it just because you’re busy or somebody else wants something from you. Time spent for yourself will pay dividends in terms of how you show up in your own life for the things that matter to you, with the effects manifesting in your health, your function and your ability to be your best for others.