The thing with alleviating menopause symptoms, is that treating each problem as a separate issue, isn’t going to work very well. It could be hot sweats, weight gain, disturbed sleep, low energy, or many others I could mention.Trying to alleviate each symptom as they arise, can become a frustrating battle with yourself.
Way back in the early days of my menopause coaching, I was taught the ‘systems over symptoms’ approach by the remarkable Jessica Drummond in the US. This, combined with the knowledge I’d already gained from Burrell Education on their ‘peri to post menopause programme’ for health practitioners, both transformed the conversations and the experiences I was having with my clients.
I want to show you how you can harness this essential information and apply it, for yourself.
There are three essential elements for hormonal balance:
Adrenal gland health
Blood sugar management
What does this even mean?
In a nutshell, it means supporting the body systems which have the strongest effect on what the hormones are doing.
As the largest organ in your body, your liver is the ultimate multi-tasker. On its daily / nightly jobs list are several hundred essential functions. There’s a hormonal clean-up operation on that list which would be greatly beneficial in terms of how your menopause symptoms are making you feel.
The adrenal glands do what they say on the tin, release adrenaline (adrenal-ine) when you need to react quickly. But – there’s a bit more to it that is really worth understanding, because these teeny glands have a huge role to play in how you feel in any given moment.
Optimal blood sugar management isn’t just for diabetics, oh no. Getting this bit nailed, can be make or break for everything from weight gain to anxiety and sleep.
I’ve been talking about these three things since about 2016. It’s easy to overlook them because the reality is, the practical application of this triad doesn’t sound quite as convincing or as sciencey (as someone with a BSc and MSc I’m reckon I can say sciencey is a real word).
For example, ‘eat lots of vegetables, drink water, be sure to poo often, take time off to do fun things that light you up, have a regular bedtime routine’ See what I mean? It doesn’t sound as appealing as my triad on first glance, above.
So why do those three things underpin ALL my advice?
The liver is the main centre for oestrogen balance. Get this bit ‘right’ and you can reduce your symptoms dramatically. Particularly oestrogen dominance issues like weight gain, sore breasts, PMT, reduced libido, irritability, disturbed sleep.
The majority of the processes for making and clearing away oestrogen (oestradial, for most of your life) happens in the liver. Remember though, it’s not the liver’s only job.
Your body is so clever (hell bent on survival) that if you’re inadvertently giving your liver extra clearing up jobs to do (e.g. excessive sugar, alcohol), or you’re not getting enough rest and downtime to allow the hormonal processes to occur, you’re already sabotaging the system. The result is just as you’d guessed; increased severity of symptoms.
Adrenal Gland Health
You have two adrenal glands, one sitting on the top of each kidney. Think of walnuts and you’re not far off the size. Small things that pack a powerful punch.
Every time your brain decides you’re in a fight / flight / freeze situation (real or perceived), your adrenal glands get the message to release adrenaline, to help ‘keep you going’. At this point, body resources including the jobs of the liver, are diverted towards survival.
Hormonal balance is shifted away from ‘thrive’ and menopause symptoms are more likely to occur here. Once the situation calms down, adrenaline dissipates and all is well again.
Think of an exciting rollercoaster ride or running for the train. Your body is designed to cope well with this short, sharp stress (or not, depending on how much you hate rollercoasters haha).
This is fine, until the source of fight / flight / freeze becomes more than a temporary event. When it’s a continual occurrence e.g. stress at work, unresolved problems at home, continual alerts on your phone, no time for you to relax… it becomes a cortisol issue AND a menopause issue.
The more we ask the adrenal glands to release cortisol (I use the word ‘ask’ with some sarcasm), the more the body pours its hormone building and balancing resources into making stress hormones. Chronic cortisol competes with the calming and sleep promoting progesterone. It can feel like a jittery anxiousness and tiredness, at the same time.
This is the reasoning behind my advice around taking proper time off, winding down in the evenings with a short bedtime routine, sprinkling some self-care through the day, giving yourself five minutes to breath slowly and deeply, not relying on caffeine and sugary carbs to get through the day.
The other reason for taking care of your adrenal glands, is that they produce the DHEA hormone which is a precursor to oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Once the ovaries retire, this becomes even more important. Well worth looking after that little hormone factory.
Blood sugar management
Nope, not diabetes. Same hormones though. As we get older (not just related to menopause), you become less sensitive to insulin – the hormone which has a key role to play in managing the amount of sugar (or teeny tiny carbs, as they’ve been broken down into teeny tiny molecules).
This means, you naturally need more insulin to get the same response in the body. That’s ok, your body can work with that, it’s normal. But if you keep promoting the release of insulin beyond the normal and expected (snack between meals, fruit at every meal etc), it will lead to an increased tendency for anxiety, tiredness, weight gain, potentially sleep issues and hot sweats too.
If you’ve followed me for more than five minutes you’ll know my love of saying ‘protein and natural fats at every meal’. Well, this is a large part of the reasoning behind that advice.
Keeping blood sugar levels stable can mean a few changes in daily habits, but it really is worth it for the pay-off can be weight loss, improved moods, better sleep, improved focus and concentration, reduced hot flushes.
As with any cool sounding triad (the great pyramids, the fire triangle, the three bears.. any more, anyone??), each side relies on each other. It’s a dependent relationship. Taking action on one side, helps the others, doing something for all three, and you’re starting to feel better.
Once the three sides are in place, even if in a small way, we can start to make progress with the fun stuff – to find ‘you’ again.
As always, you choose where you start. I’ll encourage you from this page, or get in touch and I can help you a little more closely to speed up the process of feeling back to normal.
We’ve got very used to ‘doing’ health in the same way, along the lines of… you detect something isn’t quite right, you look for how to alleviate the problem.It’s the accepted way, to use a specific treatment for an ailment or problem. For example; you feel pain, so you take painkillers. Or you cut your finger, so you put a plaster on it. The problem or the pain is what you’re both feeling AND treating, and often in a very direct way.
Menopause though, doesn’t quite play by the same rules.
The hormonal changes of menopause can bring discomfort, irritation, aches and pains in lots of ways, which I’ve talked about previously in other blog posts, in emails and in my free community. But if you try to use that same principle to treat menopause symptoms, the way you’ve dealt with so many other sources of discomfort throughout your life, you may well find that you’re still trying to find the solution to it, many months on.
The problems of menopause, whether they are physical (e.g. disrupted sleep, low energy, dry skin) or mental (e.g. anxiety, brain fog, anger etc.) or both; cannot be entirely solved unless we go beyond the symptoms themselves.
Menopause symptoms are exactly that – they point towards a problem. And to really alleviate the issue, you’ll need to look further than the declining levels of sex steroid hormones. If you only treat the symptom e.g you look for something to improve your mood or your discomfort at a superficial level, you’ll also get temporary results.
Before we get on to discuss some helpful herbs for menopause, I want to be clear on what the purpose of it is…. to support what you’re already doing (or perhaps need to do). No judgement from me at all, we’ve all got things we need to work on, me included.
Herbs are extremely powerful, but without three key building blocks in place first, they’re unlikely to produce the effect you’re really looking for.
What are the three building blocks? These underpin every single piece of my advice, whether you read my blogs, join my free community, read my emails or become a client. It’s not something whimsical, this is science-based health advice for any woman over the age of 35 years (when hormones begin to prepare for this phase of your life).
Three essential elements for hormonal balance:
Adrenal gland health
Blood sugar regulation
What does this even mean?
In a nutshell, it means supporting the body systems which have the strongest effect on what the hormones are doing.You can wait for my next blog post for me to explain that – or you could have a private consultation where I’ll not only help you understand it but also help you to implement it for maximum effect. Just get in touch if you’d like to speed up the process.
When you’re taking these three things into account on a daily basis, your symptoms will reduce AND any herbs or supplements you do take are more likely to work.
What are ‘Helpful Herbs’?
These are plants which provide a supportive effect in the body. Remember, we’re not looking for something to treat the ailment directly. It’s more about supporting body systems which themselves regulate the presence / absence / severity of the symptoms. You’d be forgiven for thinking I’m going to list out herbs with weird sounding names from far-away countries (and an expensive label to match). But no, we’ll not start there. Because some of the really useful herbs are just ordinary plants, containing very useful compounds. Below are a few that you may have overlooked or may have misunderstood. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list.
Garlic, Parsley, Coriander.
They might not sound particularly special, but I really do encourage my clients to eat these. Let’s start with garlic.
Part of the ‘alium’ family, garlic has a long and well-known history as a medicinal plant, due to anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Plus, the promotion of healthy cholesterol levels (absolutely crucial for any woman over 40 years), and assisting with cardiovascular health – due to promoting blood flow and lowering blood pressure.
Parsley and coriander – when used as fresh herbs – can be helpful in providing a tasty dose of anti-inflammatory compounds (inflammation increases as part of menopause), alongside the all important fibre. Both of which are crucial for liver health. They also provide energy-boosting B vitamins and heart healthy compounds to aid with cholesterol function (hormones are formed out of cholesterol).
Sage (Salvia officinalis) is another anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory herb, with extra benefits for assisting with blood sugar regulation and improving cognitive health. This makes it a popular choice for alleviating hot flushes and memory.
It’s definitely useful, but once again, taking this herb won’t override a bowl of granola or half a packet of hobnobs (sugar will exacerbate all menopause symptoms).
Cleavers (Galium aparine) are those sticky leaves and tendrils that we used to tease each other with as children. Or maybe still, as adults.
Apart from the comical stickiness of the plant, when used as a tincture it also has exceptional properties to aid with the lymphatic system and the kidneys. This herb is useful (as a cold tea) if you feel that menopause has increased your internal thermostat to a somewhat uncomfortable temperature. Not just for hot flushes, but general internal heat.
Nettle (Urtica dioica) has been used for centuries as pain relief and an anti-inflammatory and there are some potential benefits for managing blood sugar and blood pressure, too. Research has focused mainly on using this plant to steep fresh leaves, as nettle tea. As always, it would be best to consult with a herbalist before using yourself as a garden experiment.
Seabuckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) is a familiar sight to me at my beachside home, on the East coast of Scotland. This shrub is common throughout Europe, too. I’ve included it here because of it’s high vitamin C content, one of the highest plant sources known to woman!
Used as a juice or a tea, the berries are a great source of carotenoids, vit E and K, which provide powerful anti-oxidants and some cardiovascular benefits too. The presence of omega 7 also warrants a mention here, as one of the less-well known omegas with a beneficial role in helping to support moisture levels in the body. Vaginal dryness? Dry eyes? Seabuckthorn could well help.
Adaptogenic herbs are a broad class of herbs which have a supportive effect for the adrenal system, to help regulate stress hormones including cortisol.
They have a direct effect on the pituitary, hypothalamus and adrenal glands – to require less ‘work’ from the adrenals to produce the same effect in the body. The result is a feeling of reduced fatigue, stress and improved stamina, but as mentioned earlier, only when other practical actions are being taken in parallel. Remember, none of these herbs are miracle workers, you’ll still need to ‘address’ the issues at the core of your symptoms.
I wouldn’t want to rely on using adaptogens on a permanent basis, but there certainly have been times when I’ve used carefully selected herbs. I find them most useful when I have both physical and emotional stress e.g. managing an illness or depression, and also dealing with stressful situations. Or, when I’m in need of a helping hand for focusing at work or coping with fatigue.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is commonly used as a tea or a capsule. It has a calming action on the body, and can be quite soporific.
Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is another common one. It is doing a similar job to the Ashwagandha – to support the adrenal glands – but some women find it quite energising.
Maca root (Lepidium meyenii) is a Peruvian herb originally given as an aphrodisiac, so be warned this one can be strong! This one is not recommended if you have clinical or sub clinical thyroid issues.
Not all so-called ‘menopause herbs’ will be helpful for all women.
There are many other herbs we could talk about (e.g. Chaste tree berry / Vitex agnus-castus, black cohosh) but these are definitely best prescribed on a ‘case by case’ basis, rather than a ‘good for all’. There are important contraindications to consider, especially when prescribed medications are also being taken, as is often the case.
Plus, not all herbs will provide the same effect in all women. It’s dependent upon your own unique internal environment, not just the key foundations for hormonal balance as discussed further up the page.
For example, Chaste tree berry is often used in the hope that it will regulate menstrual cycles by stimulating the ovaries to produce oestrogen and progesterone. But if there are no follicles on the ovaries left to stimulate, this is a bit like pressing the doorbell when nobody’s actually at home. Pointless, and frustrating. The main message here is – consult a medical herbalist before self-prescribing your own herbs.
Medical Disclaimer Please note: Do not use these herbs without first consulting a medical practitioner particularly if you are on medication for blood pressure, blood thinners, have sub-clinical or clinical diagnoses, if pregnant or breast-feeding. If these herbs are new to you, please try a small amount due to the risk of allergic reactions.
Need extra support, to understand how to alleviate menopause symptoms?
You know that feeling in the morning, when you’d rather have complete silence until the morning coffee has had a chance to kick in? Or have you ever found the car keys in the fridge? Felt paranoid at work, or doubting yourself?
You’re not alone. Many women feel this during menopause. It’s not just an issue of low energy and lack of sleep, it can be compounded by brain fog, too. A cotton-wool cloud of uncertainty and indecision is often a bitter appetiser for another common menopause symptom; anxiety.
I’ve had many women tell me it’s these somewhat invisible symptoms, which are the hardest to deal with. As a busy woman with a lot on your plate, it can be tricky to know what’s attributable to menopause, or a full diary and a demanding family. Some clients have confided their fears to me, saying; “I was scared it might be early dementia” (there is an easy way to know the difference between this and menopause, I’ll tell you later). First, let me reassure you that although brain fog, anxiety are other cognitive issues are extremely common, there are many things you’re able to do, to help yourself.
Why are brain fog and forgetfulness a symptom of menopause?
Foggy head, forgetting what you were going to say, questioning yourself, words on the tip of your tongue, losing focus, unable to concentrate. Then worrying about how it’s affecting day to day life, fighting through the day and hoping it will improve somehow. Brain fog and anxiety can be debilitating.
It’s a ‘perfect storm scenario’, starting with hormonal changes in peri-menopause which affect sleep patterns, energy, memory and brain efficiency. Oestrogen, progesterone, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) aren’t just about fertility and menopause, they’re the original multi-taskers of the body. These hormones also have a role in cognitive health, and some women’s brains are affected by the menopausal fluctuations more keenly than others.
Oestrogen is often the hormone that gets the limelight here and for good reason. As a neuro-protective hormone, it serves to give protection to nerves and brain circuitry against degeneration. Also consider that oestrogen assists with building new neural connections, for learning and memory. And you can start to see how reduced concentration of circulating oestrogen can be felt at brain fog.
Why do I feel more anxious?
Anxiety is a repercussion of your whole body being on ‘full alert’ for disaster, waiting for the tiger to leap out at you. No tiger? Oh yes there is. It’s called email alerts from work, phone reminders about what you still need to do, messages from the family, and the list goes on.
Your natural stress management system (the adrenal glands) are doing their best to manage the levels of cortisol and adrenaline as a response to all this potential threat (real or perceived). And your adrenals are also a key player in hormonal balance, for the production of hormones which promote calmness and sleep.
When you get tired, have trouble sleeping (e.g hot sweats, snoring partners, ruminating, waking up early and not getting back to sleep), wake up groggy-eyed and then drink coffee… we all know it’s a temporary plaster on a problem at that moment. But unfortunately, there is a cost.
Stimulants like caffeine ask the adrenal glands to do even more work for you, releasing more stress hormones, maintaining the need to stay on ‘high alert’. The more busy these glands are, the more likely you are to feel anxious. Many clients have told me how much better they feel, for drinking more water and less coffee, even though they were convinced they needed the coffee! And whilst we’re talking about tiredness, let’s just mention it’s not always caused by a physical tiredness – it can also be a feeling of being ‘tired of’ the situation you’re in. I know of many 40+ women who can relate to that feeling.
How do you know if it’s menopause, or dementia?
The correct term for the foggy head feeling, or being a bit forgetful, is MCI (mild cognitive impairment). For women in menopause, it is temporary. Dementia is characterised by an increasing disorientation, difficulty in communication and basic life skills like cooking, dressing. Or forgetting how to carry out everyday tasks that you’re usually competent in, like driving the car for example.
It is important to note that MCI is not the same as dementia but there are some overlaps, and there are many things we can all be doing as preventative measures against the risks of it becoming a problem now, or in later life. If you are looking for further reading here, a good reference would be the book ‘Why isn’t my brain working?’ by Datis Kharrazian.
Menopause can affect us in so many different ways, but it doesn’t need to be a disempowering experience. The hormonal changes are inevitable but the transition can be smoothed when we take into consideration the environment in which the hormones are sitting in… you. You see, menopause symptoms – cognitive symptoms included – don’t present themselves solely because of hormone decline. Hormones aren’t released into a vacuum, they’re secreted into your body. With many other factors and variables at play, many of which, you’re able to do something about.
What can you really do, about mild cognitive impairement?
Whilst many women in my facebook community ask me for quick tips and remedies for this and other menopausal symptoms, I always seek to empower with the knowledge of ‘body systems over symptoms’, rather than encourage a pick n mix approach to supplements and the like. Targeted supplements can be useful, but not until you’ve first built the foundations for overall hormonal balance. It’s not at all as laborious as it sounds, as I’ll explain below.
There has also been much discussion elsewhere on the use of hormone therapy (HRT, bioidenticals), as a way to preserve our cognitive health. Recommended reading includes ‘Oestrogen Matters’ (written by Dr A. Bluming and C. Tarvis). However, there is no substitute for nourishing the brain (and body; it’s all attached) with the specifics of appropriate food, movement, and all that I’ve listed below. Lisa Mosconi made reference to this in her popular TED talk (well worth watching if you haven’t already) and her books are valuable sources of advice, too.
Brain fog and anxiety – what can I do to help myself, today?
Exercise Poor vascular health leads to reduced blood flow to the brain. In order to prevent hormonal changes from taking the upper hand, daily movement really is a non-negotiable.
It doesn’t mean you need to join a gym and take up a new sport, however. Many of my clients use the daily dog walk as part of their de-stress and exercise time. As a former Personal Trainer, I’ve an unlimited supply of ideas to add in a few bodyweight exercises, without it feeling like an extra chore to fit into the day. This study talks about the benefits of exercise and movement, for protecting our cognitive health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27562941
Food As a woman in menopause or even post-menopause, general ‘healthy eating’ advice is no longer specific enough for you! Don’t panic, it’s not all about wheatgrass and weird organic vegetables you can’t get hold of. It’s simple really. First things first, how much water are you drinking? If it’s less than 1.5 – 2 litres, then I definitely recommend increasing your intake – whilst gradually reducing any stimulants. Small, manageable changes are definitely more beneficial here.
Food choices to support the brain include vegetables – more so than fruit (particularly green leafy vegetables), oily fish, beans, nuts, seeds, berries, poultry, olive oil. You also need a source of protein and natural fat with every meal. For example eggs, salmon, lean meat, pulses. Food choices shown to increase the risks for brain fog and anxiety include sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and simple carbohydrates like bread, cereal, granola, pasta.
Use it, or lose it! Your brain will adapt and respond well, if you give it the chance. Brain health is dependent upon nutrition but equally so on stimulus. There really is potential for neurogenesis (generating new brain cells) even at menopause – you can teach an old dog new tricks! We’re talking about picking up an old hobby, learning a new instrument or a language, 5 minute ‘brain-training’ games, interaction with nature. Also, fulfilling and stimulating conversation, being part of a community, feeling heard and understood.
Sleep and Rest Sleep is a busy time for the brain to process and run its clearing systems, so that you’re able to function properly the following day. It goes without saying that a poor night’s sleep results in reduced focus and productivity, with further impacts on food choices (which then compound the issue).
I encourage all my clients to ‘book end’ their day, to have a regular routine (even a few minutes) which essentially helps you to power-up and then power-down at the start and end of the day. Please get in touch if you’re struggling with sleep, I have many strategies I can share with you in a consultation. Rest and time to recharge yourself is equally important, as it allows the brain to flip the switch into ‘thrive’ mode rather than fight/flight/freeze.
Detox Not a dodgy diet, but a reference to detoxing yourself of unhelpful behaviours, beliefs, patterns, thoughts that are holding you back. Now is the time to practise self-compassion over self-criticism. To build hormonally helpful habits with baby-steps. And to listen to your gut instinct about what really matters to you.
Stress and worry don’t remain simply as a thought, they seep out into the brain and affect the body physically and mentally. There are so many things on our list of ‘controlables’ but what could you let go of? What could you accept as ‘out of your hands’? Keep this in mind; small and consistent will always beat bold and chaotic.
To summarise – What definitely helps with cognitive ability in menopause?
Hobbies and brain training games Sleep routines Regular down-time and time off Meditation and breathwork Anti-inflammatory foods Three meals a day without snacks Community, love and support Touch (for the benefits of oxytocin) Movement and exercise to stimulate blood flow Less sugar (to discourage the insulin-rollercoaster) Less multi-tasking Having animals in the home Being in nature and in tune with seasonal and diurnal patterns Hormone therapy where appropriate and as a personal/medical choice Take action before you notice symptoms!
Need more help and advice, or a further question about menopause symptoms?
Some days it feels to me like the whole world is shifting on its axis. And at times I’m both scrabbling to keep up, and very much content with doing things my way.
I mean, apart from the obvious global shifts that have happened in the last 12 months, my period cycle has changed. I noticed some uncomfortable self-consciousness creeping in a little, and the ways in which I settle myself is far removed from how things used to be.
My energy feels different just lately. Not good or bad, just different. I look at photos from barely five years ago and I’m genuinely shocked to see how much my face has changed.
But the windows still need to be cleaned. My parents still piss me off sometimes, and I still don’t know how to change the clock in my car. I often catch my thoughts, and it feels like I’ve never changed (do you ever stop feeling 23, on the inside?!)
And yet, I feel shifts within myself, on my axis, about who I am. And who I want to be. It’s deep and at times uncomfortable and yet I welcome it in, in so many ways. I have conversations about this with my mentors and I feel very grateful to have such beautiful people in my life to share it with.
I talk about it with clients and we find similarities in feelings, of deep desires resurfacing, of wanting more for ourselves. I encourage it because this is the real ‘deep work’ that your body is nudging you to do.
It’s no longer just about ‘loss and decline’ of hormones, it becomes all about what’s to gain from the process of turning inwards. Not in a ‘woe is me’ kind of way, but in a compassionate and supportive ‘what can I learn from this?’ kind of way.
I genuinely love it.
It’s so much more than hot flushes and wonky periods. It’s even more than the sugar binges, the tears, the rollercoaster of hormones.
I have skills and strategies to help you with those things, to gain practical knowledge to help yourself, but my true calling is in helping you nurture yourself, in a way that goes beyond the surface level.
It’s like a feeling of getting back to yourself, an unwavering acceptance and confidence, a way of nurturing what’s truly in your heart.
When we talk more about those deeper things, we also find that the hormones and emotions, the weight gain and tiredness, are naturally smoothed out too, because they’re all contained within a unique package… you.
I’d love to help you more with all this. When you’re ready, get in touch by using the contact details below
Nurturing my adventurous spirit to increase resilience in menopause.
I feel it in my soul, even on the dull rainy days. It’s not just about ‘getting a bit of fresh air’. Not for me, and I doubt for you either.
Being in nature lifts me up in a different way than an afternoon on the sofa (which I also love to do at weekends). It speaks to my adventurous side, and cultivates a source of strength that I don’t think I’ve fully leveraged, yet.
Of course, there’s the practical element of ticking another job off the list. Like taking the dog for a walk. Posting a letter. Or just getting the steps in.
But there’s another layer to it, which I’m noticing as more and more essential to not only me but for every 40+ woman I speak with. Women who feel a bit lost, on the inside. Feeling the hormonal shifts and not always liking who they’re becoming.
I’ve been at that place too; not feeling comfortable in my own skin. Wanting to either go back, or press the fast-forward. Either way, not enjoying who I am. Never quite feeling content with myself, never really feeling enough. I still have to be careful even now, that I actively reject the compulsion for comparionitis.
When I look ahead now, towards my upcoming peri-menopausal years, I know there’s a part of me that’s been waiting in the wings, that I know will help me through. I’m making the effort to take on peri-menopause as an adventure, thinking of myself as an endurance athlete going all-in, for life. I’m not referring to myself as an athlete in terms of exercise – I mean, my approach to life is about taking on the long-game, not a sprint. Not a quick fix. I know it all sounds a bit whimsical but give me a minute and you might understand where I’m coming from. It might just help you, too.
Being outdoors gives me perspective, a different kind of outlook that helps me to make decisions – from what to have for lunch, to what I want the next 12 months of my life to be about. It’s not just about feeling the sun (or the rain!) on my face, it’s not always about slowing down and breathing deeper, either.
Sometimes I’ll find my mind racing with ideas when inspiration hits. Or I’ll step away from my desk in frustration, and surprise myself with a surge of confidence when I come to it later. Clarity comes to me with a backdrop of big skies. Decisions feel easier to make, and I’m somehow more willing to trust my own mind. Have you ever felt that?
I could talk to you about the hormonal benefits of being in nature; for managing stress hormones, improving my cortisol curve for better energy and sleep, encouraging calming progesterone to have it’s say. The benefits of oxytocin from the connection to myself and others. The ‘getting away from it all’ even just for a few minutes, as decompression from screen time and my dopamine filled brain.
Whilst I love all the science behind it, sometimes intuition and personal experience feels a stronger pull. Even if n=1, when you’re the ‘one’, then how you feel is every bit as valid as any science report. It’s more than simple common sense, being outdoors gives a deeper feeling of nourishing myself from the inside out.
Going further with this idea of adventure, and looking to my clients past and present… I see that every single one who came to me under a cloud of anxiety, low confidence, emotional outbursts at home and work… they all felt better, mental health symptoms lifted, physical problems were alleviated, by cultivating this feeling of adventure.
It isn’t always outdoors, but it is always about rediscovering and then exploiting your own boldness, my clients (and me!) often surprising themselves with it. Like trying out a new hobby, or joining a new fitness class. Saying no more often. And feeling more in control of what happens, when they say yes. It almost always snowballs and the results are often huge.
Trusting themselves more, small decisions create new experiences. The elusive mojo returns, there is renewed energy, a sense of purpose reinvigorated, more hope and faith. I often feel like I’m speaking to an entirely different woman from just a few weeks before.
For me, I’m encouraging my own adventures in a similar way (not all of them outdoors); to explore new friendships, grow my own herbs, learn a new piece on the piano, go back to a childhood hobby, weekday picnics, walk barefoot, wild swimming.
No matter how small, these new experiences feel exciting to me, they give me focus outside of my problems and struggles. Not in a way to distract myself from my worries, but to encourage more from myself, to inspire myself and to be inspired by others and things around me. It feels so warm and welcoming to recognise these glowing embers inside me.
Doing something adventurous, even if to someone else it sounds laughable, it feels to me like the antidote to anxious thoughts and middle of the night ruminations. It directs my thoughts, pushes at my own boundaries and reminds me that I’ve much more to give, much more to feel.
I want to continue feeding this part of me that feels so attuned to the natural world around me, it feels such an important observation of myself.
Have you ever stopped or slowed down, to think deeply about yourself like this?
What did you find?
If you’ve not yet joined my free facebook community – Menopause Done Naturally – then all you need to do is click the button below. It’s available to all women who are seeking some basic advice about how to navigate the menopause in a natural way.
1.) Forget the horror stories and what you remember your mum / aunt / sister, going through. It’s different for every woman, and you have much more control than you’re often led to believe.
2.) Start to put some time aside each week for fun, me-time and mini-adventure. This might be a walk with a podcast, a cup of tea on the beach / garden, prepping veg and dancing in the kitchen every Sunday, or something more daring. It doesn’t matter, as long as it feels like effortless fun to you and is FOR YOU.
3.) Upgrade your meals Vegetables are a priority now. Eating for your hormones doesn’t need to be complicated – and you don’t need to be vegan – but you do need to put more veg on your plate, than anything else.
4.) Detox (your head) like a mofo. When you notice your thoughts and internal / external conversations are less than helpful – do what you can to change them. Don’t buy into everything your head comes up with.
5.) Accept that you have a choice. You can do this on your own, or you can get some help (whatever that means to you). ‘Put up and get on with it’ is as dry and outdated for your health, as eating weetabix and low fat yoghurt.
6.) Start to get savvy on what hormones are really all about. I mean, beyond the horror stories, the symptoms and beyond the messy periods. You could even buy the Womanual, instead of trying to navigate the eleventy billion hits you get from Dr Google.
I’m giving you this advice, not just because I’m qualified to give it, not just because I’ve SEEN it help my clients, but also, because this first line above, describes ME.
I only ever give advice that I myself would be willing to follow, and advice that will actually make a difference.