Menopause can happen anytime from puberty up until late 50s. It can be triggered by all kinds of things including illness, medicine, surgery, genes or age. Each person will also be going through other challenges in life so it can be tough to know what exactly to attribute to hormones. Some may feel a sense of relief and for others this time in their life triggers grief. All this is to say no two menopauses are the same. This expanse of experience makes it tricky to talk about, so as a society, we generally don’t. There are lots of jokes about hot flushes because its well-trodden territory. In actuality there are closer to a hundred menopausal symptoms. Mentioning some of the ones off the beaten path can receive blank looks, even from others seemingly going through the same thing. This is why so
many of us end up isolated, grabbing a random supplement and putting our head down to wade through our watery geography. The effect of dealing with anything from dizziness, brain fog, memory loss, increased anxiety, changes in libido, mood swings, dryness, insomnia, joint pain, panic attacks and weird nerve disruption (and many other symptoms) can lead to personality disintegration which is basically not feeling like yourself.
So how do we uplift our uniqueness, reconnect with ourselves and support our body to deal with the stresses of menopause? A first step is to take time to honour what you and your body are dealing with, without comparing it to anyone else’s. Listening, slowing down and kindly acknowledging what you are holding, feeling, withstanding and navigating is powerful. It starts the process of reconnection and begins to calm the nervous system. When we are stressed we release adrenaline. This hormone is designed to desensitise us to help us run away from danger, not
stop and whine if we stub our toe. To reverse this effect, we can use our sense of touch to tune into what we are feeling. Allowing ourselves to become sensitive sends a message to the body, we are safe. With massage and yoga we can use awareness of sensation to bring about a deeper sense of safety and calm. When we relax we go into a parasympathetic response. This is literally the coolest response ever, this part of the nervous system takes blood flow from your extremities into the centre of the body to focus on your organs which is why we get colder when we chill
out. It’s common for a hot flush to come along just as we start to slow down but once we breathe through the hot hurdle we can get to the cool part. Once relaxed, our body does some of its most powerful repair work. The list of revitalising jobs it gets done is similar in length to the list of menopausal symptoms. When we deeply relax we can access the part of the nervous system we most need to offset the impact of menopause.
Communicating with your massage or yoga therapist can help keep you in the chill out space. Your uplifted uniqueness can guide you to let your therapist know if you’d prefer to them to stop during a hot flash or keep going. If you are feeling tired or panicky you can share so the session can be tailored to be more restorative. Relaxation can be one of most productive things we can do. As we reconnect and come back to ourselves, we may find our
view has changed. Back on dry land, gently rocking in a hammock, looking out to sea, lulled by the sound of the ocean and fanned by a cool breeze. Is it too much to throw a cocktail into this picture?
By Tatum De Roeck.
Tatum is a yoga therapist with a decade of experience in wellbeing and menopause. She’s had three different menopauses (weirdly that’s possible) and been post-menopausal for 10 years. You’ll find her teaching one-to-one sessions at The Massage Centre, in clients homes and online.