I’m hoping it’s becoming more well known that anxiety can be a symptom of menopause.
Susannah Constantine, who shot to fame with the Trinny & Susannah TV show and known more recently for her new career as a writer and author, spoke openly and honestly about her anxiety.
She wrote about it in her monthly column for Femail in the Daily Mail newspaper.
Susannah came to me for diet, fitness and lifestyle advice and support when her anxiety got worse with the menopause.
In her article I shared some tips for women to help them reduce their symptoms which I’ve shared below.
Please do go and read the full article “It’s time for me to confess: my life’s been crippled by anxiety” here.
What helps anxiety? No coffee after lunch and a magnesium soak.
Tanith Lee, aka Mrs Menopause, is a nutritional therapist and fitness trainer who specialises in women’s health in mid-life. These are her top five tips for beating menopause anxiety.
- Magnesium is known as Mother Nature’s relaxant because of its calming properties for both body and mind. But many women in midlife tend to be magnesium depleted because their busy lives mean they often aren’t eating properly.
This is an easy one to fix by eating more leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, seafood, dark chocolate and wholegrains. There are also magnesium supplements available, including a spray for the skin.
A good way to reduce anxiety is with an Epsom salts bath or foot bath. This has a doubly calming effect — while you’re absorbing magnesium in the salts through the skin, you’re also reaping the soothing benefits of a warm bath.
- Many of us love caffeinated drinks as they give a great boost, but they’re also likely to exacerbate feelings of anxiety for several reasons. Caffeine can have a negative impact on good quality sleep, has been known to trigger hot flushes and cause palpitations.
It can also mask tiredness meaning we’re more likely to keep going and put ourselves under pressure when we should be relaxing, which can also lead to anxiety. My advice is to cut out caffeine altogether or vastly reduce your intake.
If you must drink caffeine, stop at lunchtime as one cup of coffee can stay in the system as long as six hours.
Try green tea instead. You’ll get a mild caffeine boost, but it also contains a compound called L-theanine, which has calming properties.
- Breathing — most of us breathe from high up in the chest, which isn’t optimal for staying calm and in control. On the other hand, breathing properly can reduce feelings of anxiety instantly.
At times when you’re feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope, try ‘square breathing’. Breathe in through the nose for a count of four, hold for a count of four, breath out through the mouth for a count of four and then hold for a count of four. Repeat until you feel calmer.
- Increasingly, links are being made between gut health and the brain. Some studies have even drawn a link between gut health and anxiety.
But during the peri-menopause many women find their gut works less well and they start suffering from IBS symptoms such as bloating or constipation. One reason is that fluctuating levels of oestrogen can compromise how well the gut is able to move on food.
At the same time, stress and anxiety can also impact on digestion. It’s a circular problem. Pay attention to diet, ensuring it’s rich in a variety of nutritious foods. These should include plenty of fibre such as fruit and vegetables, protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. And it’s worth taking a probiotic supplement.
- It’s well known that exercise stimulates ‘feel good’ endorphins and I cannot stress enough the benefits of keeping the body moving as a way to combat anxiety.
For a start, while you are exercising it’s impossible to think of anything else so it helps break the cycle of anxiety, and then afterwards you reap the benefits of serotonin, which creates a feeling of wellbeing.
Exercising to the point of getting sweaty is ideal, but even a walk at lunchtime will bring benefits. Exercise can also help with feelings of negative body image — just knowing you are taking action can make you feel better and more positive.
by Tanith Lee