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Perimenopause and Stress: Go with the Flow and Be Inspired
What does it mean to be inspired? According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary inspire is defined as the following:
1 a : to influence, move, or guide by divine or supernatural inspiration b : to exert an animating, enlivening, or exalting influence on <was particularly inspired by the Romanticists> c : to spur on : impel, motivate <threats don't necessarily inspire people to work> d : affect <seeing the old room again inspired him with nostalgia> 2 a archaic : to breathe or blow into or upon b archaic : to infuse (as life) by breathing 3 a : to communicate to an agent supernaturally b : to draw forth or bring out <thoughts inspired by a visit to the cathedral>
So what does this have to do with perimenopause? Many of you reading this are feeling less than inspired at this time. But you are looking for answers about this new time in your life.Some women look at this time as losing their youth, vitality, etc. Your body begins to change, skin changes, hot flashes start, periods change and it becomes harder to control moods. Many women going through perimenopause begin to experience stress and anxiety. Some even develop panic attacks.
This change in mood can be partly in response to changing hormone levels. One indicator of the probability of developing mood or stress disorders in perimenopause is the presence of PMS or the more severe version Pre Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). These disorders are often the butt of many jokes, but for the woman experiencing PMS, it's not funny. Many women don't seek help because they may be embarrassed or feel it is just normal. Now that you are entering the perimenopause phase, you do not have the resources to help you cope with worsening mood fluctuations or even panic attacks.
You have an idea of what you would like to be or feel right now. Unfortunately, you feel like it's just not in your reach NOW. Do you remember window shopping? I used to do it all the time. I thought to myself, "I wish I could have these things, but....". I put this in context of my life as well. "I can't work at that job, I wouldn't be able to do that...". I always had a reason for not being able to have what I wanted, too much money, too good for me, etc. Over time, I began thinking, "Why can't I?"
We have been programmed to believe certain things about ourselves. We have been told that menopause is a time that women become less womanly. We are told that we will experience hot flashes, mood swings and have less pleasure in sex. Have you noticed that not all women experience this? Perhaps they had female role models that did not experience perimenopause and menopause as a decline in their female-ness. Maybe they thought of themselves as healthy, vibrant individuals already, so when perimenopause happened they did not experience the physical and emotional symptoms that many women do. Women are programmed to believe if they aren't thin and fit, they are not worthy. They spend money and time on diets that don't work, plastic surgery, and exercise equipment they don't use. These examples are meant to show how the mind plays a large role in defining who we think we are.
If you think you can or you think you can't, you are right. The words of Henry Ford ring very true. If you believe that you are powerless against perimenopause, then you will be. If you believe that pain, mood swings and irregular periods are something you must suffer, then you will. I have heard many women say "What can I do?, I don't have the time, money, resources.". Do these statements sound familiar?
One important psychological theory to help explain this is Beck's Cognitive Theory. This theory asserts people with mood disturbances experience similar thought distortions. These distortions occur with overly negative or unpleasant thoughts about themselves, the world or experiences around them and poor hope for the future.
Generally, thoughts tends to be processed incorrectly leading to more self defeating thoughts. In simpler words, when a person has less than happy thoughts about themselves, feel their life situation is less than they had hoped and they feel stuck where they are, it becomes very tough for this person to get out of this rut.
The most important thing to help yourself is to recognize what is happening in your own head. Identify your self defeating thoughts and work to change them. Picture in your wildest dreams what it is you want to see in your life. Remember the window shopping earlier? This is window shopping for your life. Begin to think of how you want to feel instead of how you don't want to feel. For example, if you say "I wish I didn't feel so tired and achy all the time." you are focusing your energies on feeling tired and achy. Change your thoughts to say "I intend to be energized and feel good." Then begin to pay attention to things in your life that point you in the direction to feel that way. Your thoughts need to be constantly monitored so they do not go back to focusing on what you do not want. You will be shocked at how much of your time is spent focusing on the wrong things. It's ok, we all have our moments of doubt, but quickly realize the thought and refocus to what you do want to see for yourself. Follow the guidance coming into your life and act on it. Regardless of what reasons your mind is trying to tell you, you are too busy, it will take too much energy, etc. Of course don't go out and spend all your money on herbal remedies, crazy diet fads, but look for sound guidance. You are your own inspiration. Nobody can take credit for your thoughts or your feelings but you. If you are upset over something happening in your life, those upset feelings are yours, you own them. Don't let other people live rent free in your brain. It's easy to place the blame for how we feel, our health and our life situations on other people, but in reality our experience is our own. Take the time to change how you think and believe about yourself and see if you feel better. It takes a lot more energy to resist than to go with the flow!