Right Ways to Relax During Menopause
- Symptoms of Menopause
- Relaxation Techniques
- Side Effects
Menopause is the permanent end of a woman's period. It typically happens naturally but can occur prematurely due to specific medical treatments or diseases; premature menopause is perimenopause. During perimenopause, the time leading up to menopause, women produce fewer hormones, and the first symptom is typically a change in a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Menopause causes an imbalance in hormone levels and can cause stress, hot flashes, and fatigue. While there are over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help with symptom relief, relaxation techniques can be a helpful complementary treatment. This article reviews how to manage menopause symptoms with relaxation techniques and provides an overview of techniques you can try.
The word "women" is used here to refer to people who identify as women and have typical reproductive organs of a cisgender female. We recognize that some people who identify as women do not have the same anatomy as that depicted in this article.
Symptoms of Menopause
Common menopause symptoms include:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Trouble sleeping
These symptoms can cause significant discomfort—disrupting sleep and making everyday life difficult.
How Menopause Affects Mental Health
Menopausal women deal with an imbalance of hormones and body changes that make them more susceptible to mood swings, depression and anxiety.
The following relaxation techniques are exercises that decrease stress and tension.
Deep breathing exercise involve placing your hand on your belly while focusing your attention on the rise and fall of your breathing. Practice this daily, and soon you will be able to do it anytime you feel tense.
Boxed or square breathing is convenient because you can follow these steps anytime and anywhere:
- Breathe in through the nose for four (or two) seconds
- Hold your breath four (or two) seconds
- Breath out
- Repeat and visualize a square as you breathe
4-7-8 Breathing Technique
The following 4-7-8 technique steps help decrease the stress hormone corrisol.
- Breathe in through your nose for four seconds
- Hold your breath for seven seconds
- Breathe out through your mouth for eight seconds
The paced breathing technique involves controlled, deep breaths that slow your breathing as you concentrate on your diaphragm (area below the lungs):
- Breathe in slowly, feeling your chest move out, for five seconds
- Release your breath for five seconds
- Alternate steps for 15 minutes twice daily
- Perform for five minutes when having a hot flash
The following technique uses word repetition to help you relax:
- Pick a focus word
- Breathe naturally
- Repeat your focus word silently as you breathe out
- Practice 10 to 20 minutes once or twice a day
Autogenic training works by using internal suggestions to create a feeling of heaviness and warmth. To practice this technique, find a quiet spot and spend a few minutes deep breathing while quietly stating a positive affirmation.
The absence of positive thoughts can harm your well-being. The following are positive affirmations that can help change your mindset:
- I am calm, healthy, whole, and complete.
- I choose joy and peace.
- I let go of things I cannot control.
- This is a phase. Things will get better.
- I am safe and all my needs are met.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation involves systematically tensing and releasing your muscles. Start from your head and work down, taking deep breaths and being careful not to overly tense or cause pain.
The following focused meditation exercise helps you tune out the rest of the world and focus on yourself:
- Focus on the air moving in and out of your body
- Release the tension as you breathe out
- Visualize the incoming air as oxygen and energy
- If your mind wanders, focus on a sensation or object
Guided imagery involves visualizing objects, scenes, or events associated with calmness. Simply close your eyes and imagine something peaceful to you, such as a beach, mountain, sunset, or your favorite pet.
Complimentary Relaxation Practices
In addition, many women find these complementary relaxation practices helpful:
- Art therapy
- Music or dance
Benefits of Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques help decrease stress, muscle tension, heart rate, blood pressure, hot flashes, irritability, and fatigue. The 4-7-8 method also helps women fight food cravings, sleep better, and manage emotional responses.
Relaxation techniques are considered safe in otherwise healthy people. Some have reported anxiousness when slowing down to practice these techniques. Rarely certain techniques worsen epilepsy or anxiety.
For those with heart disease, talk to your healthcare providers before progressive muscle relaxation. Likewise, if you experience dizziness or hyperventilation, speak with your healthcare provider before practicing paced breathing.
Menopause is the permanent end of a woman’s menstrual cycle. It can cause stress, hot flashes, fatigue, mood swings, and more. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and the 4-7-8 method can help women relax and decrease muscle tension.
A Word From Verywell
Menopause can be an uncomfortable time in a woman's life. Relaxation techniques and positive affirmations are methods that can be used at home to decrease symptoms associated with menopause. However, you don’t have to do it alone. If symptoms worsen or persist, talk to your healthcare provider so they can help provide relief.