Menopause and mood
Menopause can affect our mood in a number of ways and often contributes to mood symptoms such as mood swings, low mood, irritability and anxiety. The main reason that menopause has such dramatic effects on our mood is due to falling oestrogen levels. Oestrogen is a hormone which is known to have beneficial effects on our mood and can act as a mild antidepressant, making us feel happier. During menopause, our oestrogen levels start to drop or fluctuate – this is a natural process however it can have some unfortunate side effects for our mood! Don’t worry though here I’ve provided my 5 top tips to help give you an instant mood boost on those days menopause has got you feeling low!
1) When you smile, the world smiles back
This may seem too obvious to state, but every time you smile, feel-good neurotransmitters – dopamine, endorphins and serotonin – are released. These neurotransmitters relax the body as well as lower blood pressure and heart rate. The serotonin also works as an antidepressant to help lift the mood.
Smiling is contagious. Research suggests that when we see a facial expression we often mimic it because we want to be able to understand it better.1 This unconscious process allows us to connect with other people’s emotional experiences.
Another study found that a smile which engages the mouth and moves the skin around the eyes has the ability to activate the brain patterns of positive emotions.2 Even if you don’t feel like smiling smile anyway! It will help you to shift those Monday blues!
2) Have an attitude of gratitude
Gratitude isn’t just about saying thank you; many believe that our basic definition of gratitude consists of two qualities. The first is appreciation: recognising that something is valuable to you, which doesn’t have any monetary worth. The second quality is that we recognise that the source of this goodness is outside of ourselves – an acknowledgement of other people in our lives.
Feeling grateful can help us improve our mental health. Leading researchers have conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being and have found that gratitude can increase happiness and help to reduce depression.3
Gratitude not only has positive effects on our mental health, but it can positively impact our physical health too. According to a 2012 study, grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and are more likely to take care of their health, exercise more often, and take other steps that contribute to further longevity of life.4
And, if you’re looking for a self-esteem boost, gratitude might just help you there too! Research has found that gratitude helps to reduce social comparisons and help us to appreciate rather than resent other people’s accomplishments.
Convinced that you should start practicing an attitude of gratitude? I thought you might be. One of the most effective ways to start incorporating more gratitude in your life is by starting a gratitude journal. Start your day by writing down 5 things that you are grateful for and if you struggle to think of 5 try 3. They don’t have to be big; little actions of gratitude count too. Once you feel like you can easily nail 5 things that you are grateful for try bumping that up to 10.
3) Get moving
Not only is exercising beneficial for your body, it is also good for your brain. When we exercise we release endorphins. Aerobic exercise is one of the best ways to release stress, whereas gentler exercise such as yoga, pilates or t’ai chi place emphasis on relaxation and breathing techniques.
The good news is you don’t have to exercise for hours at a time to reap the benefits of a natural mood boost, as just 30 minutes is enough. This doesn’t need to be one 30 minute slot either – it can be broken down into easy-to-manage 10 minute chunks.
What’s more, even if you’re super busy during the week one study found that those who manage to squeeze 1 or 2 exercise sessions in at the weekend experience almost as many health benefits as those who exercise more often.5 Some is better than none – even a little can go a long way!
4) Listen to music
Music has the incredible power of instantaneous mood change! Research has found that listening to music can lift your mood and lower anxiety. When we listen to music our body releases dopamine, our feel-good neurochemical which is released when we experience pleasure and reward.
The good news is that we don’t only need to listen to happy, upbeat music to feel good. Research has found that when we match our music to our feelings it can actually make us feel better.6 Ever listened to a sad song on repeat after a breakup? Well, it turns out this can actually induce positive emotions.
One study found that when listening to sad music people experienced more empathy because they felt connected to the sadness of the music. Listening to sad music is a great way to release emotions and let go. We can often feel more comfortable listening to music than talking about a problem with another person because we are less vulnerable listening than expressing.
5) Be optimistic – not pessimistic!
Research has found that a positive attitude not only makes you feel happier but it may actually make you live longer.7 Being more optimistic about life helps us to see more new opportunities, learn from difficult situations, and grow in our own personal development.
Being pessimistic is not so much fun to be around so you may find that a negative outlook is more likely to push people away or encourage them to respond to you in a negative manner. Having a more positive outlook about life will not only improve your own sense of happiness but it will also draw in happier experiences, people and opportunities.
How to be more optimistic:
• Look for solutions, not problems
• Have a glass half full rather than a glass half empty approach
• Give more compliments – to yourself as well as to others
• Write out a positive affirmation and stick it somewhere you will see it
Are there herbal remedies out there to help me?
I often get asked whether herbal remedies can help with low mood and the answer is an absolute resounding yes! For low mood I suggest A.Vogel’s Hyperiforce tablets which contain extracts of organically cultivated St John’s Wort herb. These tablets are licensed for the relief of mild anxiety and low mood based on long-standing traditional herbal use.
St John’s Wort, also known as Hypericum, are perfect for alleviating symptoms of low mood, but here at Jan de Vries we also believe in addressing the problem at the root of the cause. That’s where Menopause Support comes into action. Another of A.Vogel’s remedies Menopause Support is designed to support you throughout all stages of the menopause. These tablets contain soy isoflavones which help to mimic the actions of oestrogen in the body and can thus help to support our hormone levels as well as our mood.