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The Best Ways to Relieve Stress in Menopause

Try these great ways to relieve stress in menopause - stress relief tips to calm and relax you.

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Finding out how to relieve stress is important at all times of life, but never more so than during midlife, when the stressors can really pile on. Stress and menopause are a dangerous combination.

Women who are under menopause stress or are wondering how to deal with depression often find it especially hard to relax and chill out. When there's a never-ending stream of demands on your time, it can be difficult to prioritise downtime for yourself and you'll soon start to notice the symptoms of stress having a negative effect on your health.

Many women put themselves and their needs bottom of the pile, and put family, friends and job at the top. Maybe you recognise this tendency in yourself?

Remember though that it's not selfish to look after yourself by building stress relief techniques into your daily life, in fact it's essential to your health and wellbeing. If you want to avoid weight gain in menopause it's even more important, because stress and weight gain go hand in hand, and in midlife that excess body fat will congregate around your belly.

If you want to avoid putting on belly fat in menopause, then destress you must - and here are lots of very enticing stress relief tips for you to try.

Give yourself the precious gift of time

Reduce stress by bike riding near the ocean
ŠIstockphoto.com/Leland Beaumont

If this is the only one of the ways to relieve stress that you try, it will do you the power of good. Simply take a little time out from your regular routine every day, and do something that's just for you. It doesn't have to be a lot of time (although it's great if you can have the occasional day, weekend or even week away), but consistently allowing yourself time to relax and refresh body and spirit is a wonderful habit to develop.

  • Read a newspaper or magazine, do a crossword or a puzzle, read a book.
  • Try not to bring work home, or to work at weekends.
  • When you take time out at home, don't use it to catch up on the ironing, or sort the clean laundry. Leave those tasks aside for a while, and take a stroll around your garden instead, have a shower or bath, or call a good friend - anything that makes you feel good.

Nurture yourself

Taking good care of yourself makes excellent sense, and there are many ways you can do it. If you neglect your own needs, you'll soon find yourself running on empty, and that's not good for you, or for those you care about.

  • Have a massage Enjoying the healing power of touch is one of the most wonderful ways to relieve stress. A regular massage is good for body and mind alike.
  • Use do-it-yourself spa treatments Going to a spa is a fabulous destressing treat, but you can also get a lot of benefit from having regular pampering times at home, either by yourself or with friends. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure, enjoy a facemask or facial massage, soak your feet in a mineral bath - there are endless possibilities.
  • Pay attention to your appearance Wear colours that flatter and clothes that fit. Don't leave your favourite outfits in the wardrobe or your jewellery in its box. Wearing the items that make you feel and look good has an instant effect on boosting your mood and making you feel better. Same goes for having your hair cut and coloured into a flattering style, putting on make-up and giving yourself a delicious spritz of perfume.
  • Eat healthy and delicious foods Choose your menopause diet with care. Healthy, fresh foods, and appetising homemade dishes are good for your wellbeing and bring pleasure to your plate every day.
  • Get plenty of rest Use refreshing power naps during the day if you find them helpful. Go to bed at the same time every night, and aim for eight hours sleep - this will help you to avoid insomnia during menopause. Make your bedroom an inviting and comforting environment, and develop a restful bedtime routine that lets you unwind naturally before you settle to sleep.
  • Use exercise Including plenty of exercise in your life is one of the best ways to reduce stress, and exercise is also proven to help lift depression. Choose activities that you enjoy and try to include an aerobic exercise program and strength training exercises on a regular basis. Exercise is great for body and mind, so build it into your life every day.

Destress your mind

Calming the ever-chattering voice in your brain is one of the very best ways to relieve stress. By distracting and relaxing yourself using one of these stress-busting tips, you can soothe your mind and help to keep worries from spiralling out of control.

  • News break So much of what goes out on TV and radio news is sad and bad...and once you have caught up with world events, do you really need to hear the same items repeatedly? It can be especially useful to drop the late-night bulletin, which can prey on your mind when you are trying to sleep. Another of the favourite ways to relieve stress is to reset the radio alarm, so that instead of being woken on the hour with doom and gloom, you wake a minute or two later to pleasant music.
  • Guided imagery or visualisations These help lower stress by taking your on a journey in your imagination. You simply close your eyes, relax, and imagine yourself in a very relaxing setting, whether it's a beach, a woodland or a cosy fireside. You can use a pre-recorded CD, go to a relaxation class, or record your own guide.
  • Meditation Another powerful technique for relieving stress, meditation takes practice. Sit in a relaxed position where you can still be alert and won't fall asleep, such as cross-legged on a cushion. Close your eyes, or gaze on a simple object like a flower or pebble. Focus on your breath going in, and out. As you do so, gently push away any intrusive thoughts that come in, and always return to concentrating on your breath.
  • Mindfulness A useful strategy for becoming fully aware of the present moment, and allowing yourself to enjoy and appreciate what is happening in the here and now, rather than worrying about the past or the future. Mindfulness involves giving your full and dtailed attention to whatever you are doing at that moment so if you eating an apple for example, really look at the fruit, enjoy its colour, scent and texture. Instead of munching it quickly, without thinking, savour the juice and sweetness in your mouth, enjoying the crunch and the slight resistance of the skin.
  • Journalling Writing about your feelings and thoughts is another of the most useful ways to relieve stress. Simply putting your thoughts on to paper can help you to sort them out in your mind, and can bring worries down to size. Looking back over what you've written can also help put anxieties into proportion, as you see how problems have resolved themselves and even faded away over time. Writing about the pleasures in your life gives you another chance to enjoy them, and you can relieve those moments every time you read through your journal.
  • Declutter and tidy your surroundings Living in a messy environment can drag you down. Gradually rid yourself of unwanted possessions, and take five minutes to clear up your living area every night before you go to bed, so that you can start the next day in a tidier space.
  • Turn the TV off Don't keep the TV babbling away in the corner of the room. If you're not watching, switch off, and be selective about what you do watch. Don't keep a TV in your bedroom, as watching is too simulating to the brain just before you want to sleep.

Cultivate happiness and enjoyment

Happiness doesn't just happen - there's plenty you can do to cultivate it. And the more routes to happiness you have in your life, the better able you'll be to keep stress under control. Remember that stress creates cortisol, the weight-gain hormone, so by lowering your stress levels, you're helping yourself to beat menopause weight gain as well.

  • Pursue hobbies and interests Whether your passion is horse riding, knitting, Scrabble or singing - make sure you do more of it. Find the activities that absorb you so well that you lose track of time. That state is called 'flow', and it is wonderful for knocking stress on the head and leaving you refreshed and revitalised.
  • Keep a pet If you're an animal lover, you'll know the power of pets to reduce your tension, make you smile and generally help you feel better about life. Whether you choose a strokeable cat to soothe your soul, or a lively dog who'll race you across the fields, having a pet in your life is a great destresser.
  • Have sex Making love with a trusted and cherished partner is one of life's great pleasures, yet it's also one of the first to be put aside when you're feeling exhausted with the daily round of life. Look for opportunities to share intimate times and enjoy the relaxed pleasure that comes from regular lovemaking.
  • Listen to music Choose music that uplifts you and raises your mood - and listen to it every day. Music is a superb mood-enhancer, so don't leave that CD collection gathering dust on the shelf, pick out your favourites and give them a listen today.
  • Have fun When was the last time you really had fun? If the answer is longer ago than a day or two, it's time to act. Fun makes you smile, boosts your spirits, and needn't be time-consuming or costly. Make a little list of the things that give you a buzz - sitting on the swing, having coffee with a friend, strumming your guitar or watching a feelgood film - and do one, every day.
  • Laughter Laughing is great therapy and helps to reduce tension and stress. There are even laughter workshops, if you want to have a chuckle with others. But just getting a giggle into your daily life can help. Try watching TV comedies, reading humorous columns in the paper, talking to friends who have a great sense of humour or simply keeping your eyes open for the funny side of life. Even a sticky posted alongside your computer monitor, reminding you to 'SMILE :-)'can do the trick.

Tap into your spirituality

Nurturing your spirit and soul can give you a deep-rooted sense of wellbeing that can underpin and help to stress-proof your daily life.

  • Get into the fresh air Go outside very day and take notice of your surroundings. See the colours of plants and flowers, get in touch with the changing seasons and attune yourself to beauty, wherever you find it.
  • Be close to water The sound of a running stream, a waterfall or waves on the beach, can calm the human spirit like no other sound. If you have water near to your home, be sure to spend time beside it frequently. A small water feature in your garden or indoors can bring the gentle sound of running water into your daily life.
  • Make your surroundings beautiful Create your home using colours you love, soft textures and comfortable furniture. Make your home, or at least one room in it, a sanctuary where you can shut the door on the cares of the world.
  • Practice gratitude Research into happiness has shown that some people can feel happier, and therefore less stressed, by taking a few moments each night to think of things that have made them grateful during the day.

Enhance your relationships

Good relationships with other people, from your partner and kids to colleagues, neighbours and friends, are key to lowering stress.

  • Discuss disagreements Try not to let rows reach explosion point by tackling problems before they get out of hand. Don't embark on difficult conversations late in the day - they'll wreck your sleep and won't be easily resolved while you're tired.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for support At work and at home, ask for help when you need it, don't soldier on with ever-growing resentment. Delegate and share chores and don't make yourself into a workhorse while everyone else sits around taking you for granted. The answer lies in your own hands, so learn how to ask for what you want and you'll find that others are often glad to support you.
  • Encourage youngsters to be more independent If you still have kids at home, encourage and teach them how to tidy their rooms, cook meals, use the washing machine and make their own lunches. They might moan about it, but you'll be equipping them with life skills and reducing the burden on yourself as well.
  • Steer clear of toxic people If you know people who always drag you down or demand too much, now's the time to extricate yourself from those relationships and start saying no. Spend time with people who boost your morale and make you feel good about life, and about yourself. Being with others who are living life well is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress as you go through the menopausal years and well beyond.

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