Try Yoga’s Mindfulness for Maintaining Healthy Relationships During Menopause
Article At A Glance
The average age for women to divorce perfectly aligns with the average age of perimenopause starting in the early 40s. It’s no coincidence, and the research backs that up. In fact, this recent study found 7 out of 10 UK women blame menopause for their divorce. There are a number of reasons for this and solutions too.
Perimenopause is Earlier
You’re not alone if you associate menopause with your 50s. Most women do. Yet, according to Mount Sinai, perimenopause can begin for women in their late 30’s, but usually, it starts between ages 40-44. Think of perimenopause as the journey and menopause as sort of the destination, the date one year from your last period. The journey and its symptoms begin a lot sooner than most of us expect, catching us off guard. Every woman experiences the journey differently so some early symptoms can be mistaken for something else. Your periods may still be regular while emotional and psychological symptoms appear.
Perimenopause: Emotional Symptoms
According to the Australian Menopause Center, the following are very common signs of perimenopause:
- Lack of joy in life
- Poor communication
- More anxieties and fears than normal
- Inability to feel affectionate
- Sex becoming mechanical
- Difficulty achieving orgasm
- Brain fog
Many of these symptoms can create relationship problems, particularly if we’re not sure of the true nature or cause.
The Love Hormone, Mindfulness, and Healthy Relationships
When we are going through perimenopause, our estrogen levels, though still fluctuating, are trending down. The lowering of estrogen impacts every part of our bodies, from our brain function to other hormones. In particular, as estrogen levels drop, it takes oxytocin levels down with it. Oxytocin is commonly referred to as the ‘love hormone.’ it helps us to feel happiness, connection, affection, and love. Many women report changes in their feelings for their partner during perimenopause. They may feel they’ve fallen out of love or like they’ve lost any connection with their partner. Beyond the spark going out, the relationship can seem completely done, even though nothing really changed. The hormones may be the only thing that has changed, but it feels like the whole relationship is wrong.
Boosting the Love: Menopause and Healthy Relationships
Fortunately, there are plenty of simple and natural ways to boost your oxytocin and feelings of connection. If you suddenly think your partner is a jerk for no apparent reason, maybe try boosting your oxytocin before anything else. Harvard Health suggests the following to boost your love hormone:
- Exercise. Anything to get the blood moving and endorphins flowing.
- Music, especially when singing in a group. You don’t need to join a choir. You could just be going to a live concert and sing with the crowd or with a partner in your kitchen.
- Touch. This could be a hug, a massage (giving or receiving), cuddling, or making love (with a partner or solo).
- You can also get together with friends or family. It could be a coffee date, dinner party, or a walk with friends. Whatever helps you connect with loved ones in general, not just your significant other.
Yogic Mindfulness is Key For Healthy Relationships During Menopause
Of course, some of the symptoms of perimenopause may actually be caused by other things. Of course, it’s possible that your relationship does need to end. However, when confronted with overwhelming emotions, anxiety, or urges, it’s important to dig deep and seek the true cause before acting on impulse.
First, if you’re in your late 30’s or beyond, get educated about perimenopause. There are more and more resources becoming available. Research, read articles, and talk to a women’s health practitioner. Being aware of the possibilities will help a lot if the emotions surge.
Next, mindfulness practices can help you calmly figure out what’s the interplay of changing hormones and what’s other issues. You can try the following:
1. Yoga Practice Any Version Helps
Any version of yoga practice helps us connect with our body, mind, and spirit. Yoga also boosts blood flow and helps improve mood. Breathing in sync with other people can help our feelings of connection to others and boost endorphins.
2. Mindfulness yoga practice
- Try to focus on the breath and follow the breath as you naturally breathe in and out. Do this for about 2 minutes to let the breath settle and slow
- Imagine you are now lying on your back on the grass, watching clouds pass overhead.
- Bring attention to your thoughts. As each thought arises, imagine placing it on a cloud to pass by. You’re aware of the thoughts but not connected to them.
- Do this for 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Journal or Morning Pages
This practice comes from the book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s essentially a mind dump and can help clear lingering stress and anxiety.
- Ideally, this is done as soon as you wake up, but any time you can squeeze it in your day will work.
- With a pen or pencil, no typing, write 3-4 pages, write without taking the pen off the page, without pausing or thinking about it.
- Forget about spelling, punctuation, or tidiness; just write whatever pops into your head. Even if it’s just, ‘this is dumb; why am I doing this,’ just write three pages.
- Burn, throw out, or keep the pages when you’re finished. They are not for anyone to read. You don’t even have to reread them. They are finished when the third page is done.
- Repeat daily for as long as you like, and try a minimum of 21 days in a row.