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.
Last week I was invited to go to the BBC5 Live studio in Manchester to join a discussion about menopause.
Yesterday I jumped on a train excited to be given another opportunity to share my message about menopause and the positive and negative impact it can have on a women.
Meg Matthews (Meg’s Menopause) was the guest editor and the show was brilliantly hosted by the lovely Nihal Arthanayake (who is now very educated about the menopause ;-))
The First hour was a discussion with Dr Louise Newson and Diane Danzebrink (http://menopausesupport.co.uk) with Professor Helen Stokes – Lampard, (pictured left) Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners.
The second hour was with Dr Newman, Meg, myself, Bridget (WI), Jayne Harrison (Menopause cafe) and Ola Fagbohun (menopause cafe). This was a more relaxed, on the sofa, setting where we discussed the menopause and how it affects women. We heard some sad (yet typical) stories about how women are suffering. One women told us how she had been suffering for 20 years, this was heart breaking and unnecessary). A few men contacted the show to say thank you for discussing it on the radio as they didn’t know how to help their wives.
I had so much more I wanted to say on the show! Dr Newman and Meg are very pro HRT but they were fairly dismissive of supplements and alternative therapies. I am also pro HRT as it saved my life but not all women can or want to use it. I felt it a little biased but then maybe i was just a bit sensitive to womans needs.
There wasn’t much discussion about nutrition and lifestyle changes to support women going through the transition.
I’m so pleased that the BBC are airing this topic so openly as the more we talk the more women will feel they can get help.
I spend a lot of time reading and writing about hormones and the menopause.
I read some great stuff and I read some rubbish!!
When I asked a group of women what are some of the myths they have heard this is the response I got.
~How to avoid the nightmare from hell known as menopause
~To HRT or not HRT? That is the menopause question
~There is nothing you can do if you don’t want to take HRT, you just need to get on with it!
~That it will be HORRIBLE!!!!
~You’ll gain weight and it only happens in your 50’s
~It’s over in your 50s
~You have to go on HRT
~It’s the nightmare from hell and only hard core hormonal help will save you!
~It’s no wonder women are terrified of it and ignore it at all costs!
I am filming some short ‘Menopause Myth Busting’ videos over the coming days to help you know the real deal on the change.
ps The plaster on my head is due to mole removal. I didnt want to procrastinate anymore about making the videos so you get me make up free and freshly scraped!
So I was contacted by Derek Raymond from Ladycare who asked me if I had ever used his product.
I’d heard of a magnet that women wore for PMS but not for menopause. To be honest I’d not paid it much notice.
A magnet, in your knickers?…..Hmmmm
So my intrigued was piqued (i like that word) and me being me went off for a bit of research.
According to Lady care research in a survey of 508 menopausal women.
There was a 50-67% reduction in Anxiety, Feelings of Doom, Sudden weight gain, Muscle tension, Mood swings, Marked fatigue, Vaginal dryness, Difficulty sleeping, Urinary incontinence, Breast tenderness/soreness
There was a 33% reduction in Hot flushes, Irritability, Loss of libido/sex drive, Inability to concentrate, Sore muscles, Lapses of memory
These improvements were noted after one month of wearing LadyCare and the benefits were even more significant after 3 months
Other observations were:
8.1% of women surveyed had had a hysterectomy. This did not seem to affect the response to LadyCare
19.1% of the group lost weight. Average weight loss was 14 pounds (6.4kg)
NO UNTOWARD EFFECTS WERE NOTED
Sounds too good to be true? Looking on forums and at reviews the response seems to be mixed. Some women love it and others don’t.
So how does it work?
“There are two divisions of the Automatic Nervous System (ANS), the Sympathetic Nervous system (SNS) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). Symptoms such as sweating and anxiety, which are commonly associated with menopause, are under the control of the Sympathetic division, which is our body’s fight-flight stress reactor system. For example, when we perceive a threat, this is the system that causes our heart to beat faster and our pupils to dilate to allow more light for enhanced visual acuity and faster reactions.
In contrast, the Parasympathetic division (PNS) is responsible for REST and DIGESTION. This is the body’s repair and regulatory system and it tends to have the opposite effect to the SNS. For example, the SNS speeds the heart rate while the PNS slows it down. The two systems work together to regulate all of our organ systems.”
Ah so now i get it. The ladycare magnet works by balancing the two systems. Fantastic!
In research they used heart rate variability monitors to test this. Their ANS excess was reduced while their PNS activity was increased, thereby generating a healthier, balanced state of equilibrium between the two parts of the ANS.
Reducing stress is a key part of how I help women with their menopause symptoms. It makes a HUGE difference to all women’s well-being but super important for menopausal women.
Ladycare have a product called Ladycare Plus which is 40% stronger and designed for women who feel the pressure of stress. I’ve been wearing this one for 6 weeks and I have noticed a difference. I defo felt calmer and reacted less to stress and pressure. It was more noticeable when I first started wearing it but maybe that’s because I have got used to it. I also realised a week ago that i need to wear it 24 hours to get the full benefits, I had been only wearing it during the day.
Because I’m on Bioindentical HRT I don’t have menopause symptoms any more apart from a bit of dryness (mucous membranes and skin) but I am under a lot of stress with the Nutrition course I’m on. I’m continuing to wear it for another few months all day everyday and see how I feel.
Magnet therapy isn’t a new thing.
Nikken have been using magnets for wellbeing for years and have a huge amount of research behind them
Let’s not forget that the Earth is one big magnetic energy field.
If you are suffering from stress, pms or menopause symptoms and want to try something natural then I would give it a go.
ps. WARNING: your crotch may get stuck to metal objects like shopping trolley (like mine did)!
pps. don’t put your phone, ipad or bank cards near a magnet!
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A message from Tanith
Founder, Mrs Menopause
Your forties are a time of change, I’m sure I read once that’s when the fun starts. The body changes and you cannot stop it. I want to help you accept it and embrace it…..cellulite, flabby bits and all!