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Notes from midlife

This is how gratitude can improve your menopause symptoms

Feeling grateful is more than a nice feeling. The more you feel grateful, the luckier you feel and the happier you are. The science is clear: you’re less stressed and your outlook, more positive and healthier, too.  Since the menopause can be such a challenging time for midlife women, I’m all for saying ‘yes’ to anything that stands a decent chance of improving the symptoms of perimenopause. So, could practising gratitude improve your menopause symptoms? I think so. Why not give it a go.


gratitude journal

Let me explain how gratitude works and how you can tap into it. We’ll start with a little explanation of what gratitude is so we’re on the same page. Gratitude comes from the Latin word gratus, which means "thankful” or “pleasing." It’s a complex emotion that involves a combination of cognitive, emotional, and behavioural processes. At its core, it involves recognising and acknowledging the good things in your life and feeling a sense of appreciation and thankfulness for them.


The Oxford English Dictionary has this to say: “[It’s] the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness; a warm feeling of goodwill towards a benefactor.”  


“What you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it. Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life.” OPRAH WINFREY

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” ECKHART TOLLE


Wondering to what extent gratitude can help improve symptoms of your menopause?

There is growing evidence that practicing gratitude can have a positive impact on physical health. Here are just 10 way gratitude will benefit you in menopause.


  1. Better Sleep. A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research found that individuals who wrote down things they were grateful for before bed reported better sleep quality and felt more refreshed in the morning. Do you struggle with lack of sleep in perimenopause? This could be a missing piece!

  2. In other interesting sleep news, The Journal of Psychosomatic Research found people slept better and deeper when they practised gratitude – so count your blessings and not sheep!  

  3. Improved heart health. In a study published in the journal Spirituality in Clinical Practice, researchers found that gratitude was associated with better heart health. The study found that people who expressed gratitude had lower levels of inflammation and improved heart rate variability, which is a marker of better cardiac health. This is a big win for women as after menopause, the risk of cardiac events shoots up as you no longer have the heart protection that oestrogen used to give you.

  4. Reduced pain. In a study published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing, researchers found that practicing gratitude helped reduce chronic pain. Those who kept a daily gratitude journal reported lower levels of pain and were more likely to engage in healthyhabits like exercise and stretching, which further benefited their health. I find this especially interesting, and I reckon there is so much we do not know about the emotional and mental aspects of chronic pain.

  5. Better relationships. When you practise gratitude, you are a better person to be around, and this has an impact on how others relate to you. I speak to so many women in the menopause years that are irritated with life and the people around them, even those they hold near and dear. The combo of lack of sleep, potentially lower mood, and anxiety that perimenopause can bring, and small wonder the small things can feel BIG and annoying.

  6. Lowers blood pressure. In a study published in the Journal of Health Psychology, researchers found people who practiced gratitude had lower blood pressure levels than those who did not. The study found those who expressed gratitude had lower levels of stress and anxiety, which are known to contribute to high blood pressure. Often women aren’t aware they have high blood pressure as it’s not something that is regularly tested. Yet another good reason to give gratitude and whirl at this stage of your life.

  7. Lowers HbA1c (a blood sugar marker). If you’re a woman, being grateful can also lower your HbA1c markers, which is one indicator of diabetes. Specifically, studies show being grateful to God, but we can take a guess it doesn’t really matter what you are grateful for. The same reduction was not noted in men, but it has also been seen in adolescent type 1 diabetics. So, bully for us gals. It’s also interesting because, in menopause, our HbA1c can creep up a little as oestrogen plays a big part in how our body deals with carbs.

  8. Helps you reframe situations. Want to reframe negative experiences in a more positive light? By focusing on things you're thankful for, you can shift your perspective and find a sense of meaning or purpose in difficult situations. Innerpeace, anyone? Priceless.

  9. Gratitude generates positive emotions like joy, contentment, and happiness. These emotions can have a range of benefits, including improved mood, increased resilience, and reduced stress. That is certainly on my post-menopause wish list.

  10. Improves social connections. Gratitude strengthens social connections and builds positive relationships with others. When you give love and appreciation, you’re more likely to receive it back. I didn't just make that up.

 

So, now you know that gratitude is a good thing, I know you’ll want to try it for yourself. Here’s how.

  • Keep a gratitude journal. Set aside a few minutes each day to write down three things you're grateful for. This could be anything from the people in your life to the simple pleasures of daily life. By focusing on the good things in your life, you can start to build a more positive outlook. There are tonnes of journals you could buy. Frankly, you just need a blank notebook, but I do like a bit of lovely stationery and this one is my favourite at the moment - https://amzn.to/49QPBPd


Gratitude journal

  • Make a point as you go about your daily business of acknowledging to good stuff. It won’t take you extra time – you’re doing the stuff anyway. Remark on it to yourself.

  • I learnt something great from the author of Thank and Grow Rich, Pam Grout (https://amzn.to/3QTNp0C) and it is this: before you have even swung your legs out of bed in the morning, tell yourself that something amazing is going to happen. You don’t know what, but it’s going to be great. Suddenly you shift your outlook. It’s genuinely like magic. The whole book was a game changer for me. I started with the audiobook and now additionally have the real-life book. I valued it so much that I used to gift a copy to clients.


  • Express gratitude to others. Take the time to thank the people in your life who have made a positive impact on you. This could be a friend who has been there for you during a tough time, a co-worker who helped you out on a project, or a family member who has supported you in some way. By expressing your gratitude, you can strengthen your relationships and build a sense of connection with others.

  • Practice mindfulness. Gratitude and mindfulness go hand in hand. Take a few minutes each day to simply focus on the present moment and appreciate the world around you. This could be as simple as taking a walk outside and noticing the beauty of nature or savouring a cup of tea and enjoying the taste and aroma.

  • Create a gratitude jar. Get a jar or container and write down things you're grateful for on small pieces of paper. Whenever you're feeling down or need a reminder of the good things in your life, you can reach into the jar and read through the notes. Any old large coffee jar or Kilner jar will do for this job.


Gratitude jar

  • Start a gratitude challenge with friends or family. Invite others to join you in practicing gratitude. You can set a goal of writing down three things you're grateful for each day for a certain period of time, and then come together to share your experiences and reflections. This is a really sweet thing to do but I appreciate it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Some of us like to just to this stuff on the quiet…

 

If this is new to you, I want to say 5 very important things.

1.    It is not difficult to do per se and it can be hugely rewarding.

2.    When you try something new and want it to become a habit, it will take up a little more headspace to start with. That’s just the way of things. Any time your brain has to work to do something new, that is the process. So, yes, it is a habit that takes time and effort to cultivate but the benefits are enormous.

3.    Perhaps because there is a teeny bit of effort, and it’s not difficult and it is also free, it is super easy to underestimate what you will get back.

4.    Sometimes the results can be subtle. They will always be worth it.

5.    Start small and be consistent, and over time you may find that it becomes easier to focus on the positive things in your life.



 


Dial down stress & reap the benefits of gratitude and self-care the easy way

If you're looking for a lovely way to get involved wtih gratitude, sleep better and find your happy place without it taking a tonne of your time, my programme The Self Care Fix is what you need. It's like getting your hands on the cheat codes. A steal at £59 - click the button to lean more.

 




 

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