Being aware of the present moment may reduce certain symptoms.
Some women breeze through menopause, barely registering a physical or emotional complaint. For others, menopause can be a truly challenging time, when symptoms such as night sweats, hot flashes and increased irritability become pronounced and interfere with daily life. A new study from the Mayo Clinic offers hope for the estimated 6,000 women who reach menopause each day in the U.S.—and best of all, the solution is drug-free and readily learned.
According to research published in Climacteric: The Journal of the International Menopause Society, increased mindfulness may be linked with having fewer symptoms of menopause. In the past, mindfulness has been shown in research to reduce stress and improve the quality of life for people who practice it. This new study showed that being mindful is especially useful for coping with three menopause symptoms: anxiety, depression and irritability.
Researchers worked with a data set of 1,744 women, ages 40 to 65, who had been at the Mayo Clinic’s Women’s Health Clinic in 2015 and 2016. Study participants used a questionnaire to record how severe or mild their menopausal symptoms were, as well as to report their levels of stress and mindfulness.
“We found that midlife women with higher mindfulness scores experienced fewer menopausal symptoms,” wrote the study’s lead author, Richa Sood, M.D. Sood is a general internist and women’s health specialist at the Mayo Clinic. “These findings suggest that mindfulness may be a promising tool to help women reduce menopausal symptoms and overall stress.” Higher mindfulness was not associated with lowering hot flashes and night sweats, but, was linked with lower scores for irritability, depression and anxiety.
While more studies need to be done, doctors can consider discussing mindfulness as a potential treatment option for menopausal women, Dr. Sood reported in the study. Dr. Sood pointed out that mindfulness can be learned. The first step is “to become aware that our minds are on autopilot most of the time. The goal during mindful moments is not to empty the mind, but to become an observer of the mind's activity while being kind to oneself. The second step is to create a pause. Take a deep breath, and observe one's own space, thoughts and emotions nonjudgmentally. The resulting calm helps lower stress.”
Sounds like excellent advice, no matter what life changes a body is going through.