Anxiety in MenopauseOctober 17, 2021
“Get yourself grounded and you can navigate even the stormiest roads in peace.”
– Steve Goodier –
Anxiety: ‘a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.’ (Oxford languages)
By definition, anxiety is worrying about something you don’t even know IF is going to happen. Something you don’t yet know. Something that is uncertain. Something you may or may not have influence or control over.
The feeling of anxiousness is within us all. It is a familiar feeling.
Anxiety, as a feeling, is actually good. Now, bear with me for a moment! I’m not saying that feeling anxious all the time and allowing it to ruin your lives is a good thing. What I am saying is that feeling anxious – at a healthy level – has very important functions! It is there to keep us alert, to keep us safe and protected from potential threats. It is there to help us succeed by keeping us on our toes, improving our performance.
Let’s look at what actually happens when anxiety takes over or even turns into panic.
When anxiety hits, you are not present. You are either anxious or worrying about the past, or about the future; allowing your thoughts to rush around in your head 100mph! Thinking of the unthinkable, worst-case scenarios, making links and connections between things that have very little or no link between them. Your heart starts beating super-fast, breathing becomes fast and shallow, you might even start sweating or shaking…
And at this point you feel that all is lost. You have no control over the situation. And this is when the downward spiral of feeling anxious starts and doesn’t seem to want to stop. Your thoughts fly away with you, like a flock of uncontrollable birds…
What can I do to manage the symptoms of anxiety and panic? – I hear you ask…
There are many different approaches that could work. Here are my 3 TOP TIPS for quick and effective ways to take control:
1. Take control of your mind:
And the easiest way to do it is to use your five senses in a grounding exercise:
Name 5 things you can see
Name 4 things you can hear
Name 3 things you can feel (physically)
Name 2 things you can smell
Name 1 things you can taste
And keep repeating it until you feel that sense of calm, peaceful ‘groundedness’ that helps you regulate your breathing and ease your body and mind.
Once you acheived that, it will be so much easier to gain perspective, see things with clarity and wisdom.
You can bring yourself back to the here and now. You can ground yourself so you are present.
2. Take control of your breath:
There is a very simple and effective exercise, called Box-breathing. This technique gives you a structure and task to occupy your conscious mind, and bring you back to the ‘here and now’ while you focus on your breathing.
(If you suffer from shortness of breath, feel free to start with 2-3 seconds breathing and holding, and slowly build up to 4. You can even use a stopwatch or the second arm of your watch to have something to focus your conscious mind on.)
And as you are repeating the cycle, just notice how your breathing is slowing down, how much easier it becomes to follow the cycle.
Your conscious mind is occupied, calm, and relaxed, so your subconscious mind can help you to come up with the solution you need.
3. Reconnect with your body
You can do this by a simple mindfulness exercise, called the Body scan.
It is used to tame your anxiety by simply checking in with your body. With curiosity about what is happening. Not to change, label or alter anything. Just simply checking in to see what is happening by bringing your attention to each part of your body.
It has 5 main components:
Notice the position of your body. (Sitting or lying down.) Notice how your body feels on the chair or on the bed and feel the weight of your body and the connection of your body and what you are sitting or lying on.
Check in with your mind. And notice what you are feeling or what you are thinking. Not with judgement, only noticing how you are. Notice those thoughts come and go. And as they come, you can even imagine to wave to them: “Thank you for coming, I’ll deal with you later. You can go now…’
Then bring your attention to your breathing. Again, with the attitude of curiosity. Just checking in to see, feel or hear what’s happening. No judgement, no need to change or alter anything. Just notice the breath as it’s happening. Notice the sensations in your body. And allow yourself to just be.
Scan down and then back up:
Now bring your attention to the top of your head, all the way down to the bottom of your feet:
Top of your head, side of your face, eyebrows, eyes, nose, cheeks, lips, jaw, chin, down your neck and shoulders, arms, elbows, fore-arms, wrists, fingertips… down your torso, shoulder blades, chest…. All the way down to the bottom of your feet, noticing every single part of your body, one after the other… No need to do anything else, just bring your attention to each body part and notice the bodily sensations you may have.
And once you reach the bottom of your feet, scan upwards. And this time feel how your body parts are connected to each other as you go all the way up to the top of your head.
Just notice. Just be.
And feel how you become more connected with your body.
Then bring your attention to your breath again, noticing how it is different from how it was…
When you are ready, introduce little movements in your body and open your eyes. Welcome back to the here and now.
All these three techniques are very effective, especially when any type of anxiety is caught at an early stage; as, or even before it starts building up. And they are also effective when you are already feeling anxious. They may just take a little longer to help you settle.
In the worst cases, when the anxiety or panic attacks have been recurring and present for longer, I would always recommend seeing a specialist about it. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Hypnotherapy or Mindfulness (amongst other things) can all help with long standing anxiety issues; either as a stand-alone solution, or as part of a more complex intervention process. It will always depend on and be determined by each individual case.
If you would like to discuss your situation and explore how you can take control over your own mind and body, book in a complementary consultation with me here: