BETWEEN the hot flushes and nightmarish brain fog, it can be difficult to step back and think about how your thoughts can affect your menopause.
It could make a real difference to how you experience symptoms though, says one life coach.
Menopause is no longer “some deep dark secret that no one can talk about”- in part thanks to The Sun's awareness raising Fabulous Menopause Matters campaign – says Transformational Change Coach Jessica Vassallo. “Cher said: ‘I didn't realise I was 40 until I turned 60,” – yes!
"We've got lives to get on with, we haven't got time to lock ourselves away in an attic somewhere apologetically.”
Jessica hopes to help women through debilitating perimenopause and menopause symptoms – like low self esteem and anxiety – through the power of mindset.
“When people change their mindset, it in turn helps change their habits, their behaviours, and their attitude in life,” she explains.
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She uses neuro-linguistic programming (changing negative thought patterns), positive psychology and talking therapy “to help people feel more empowered and change their life” – whether they’re overeating, struggling with anxiety, or dealing with menopause.
What is mindset?
“Mindset is the attitude that we choose,” says Jessica. “It's the idea of being able to be forward looking and not saying, ‘I can't,’ but saying, ‘How will I?’
She adds: “It’s about creating the life you want without lots of baggage holding you back.”
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Which first involves raising awareness of your habits and how you talk to yourself – meaning critical self-talk.
“By being aware of that negative voice we direct at ourselves, we have the choice to shut it up,” says Jessica.
“One of my clients calls it their ‘dirty parrot’ – they have to brush it off their shoulder, stop its squawking so they can focus positively on how they do want to think and therefore feel.
“It really helps people reset and go back out into the world and feel strong.”
How can mindset affect menopause?
The prospect of menopause affects people in different ways.
“Some woman will approach it with a ‘woohoo, my periods have stopped, I’m free, I'm liberated, the kids have left home, this is my time!’ attitude,” says Jessica.
“While for other people their world is completely rocked, they feel they have no purpose.”
She points out that the very origins of the word menopause is the idea of ‘stopping’ or that you should stop, along with your periods.
“It can rock their being and identity so they lose confidence. And that can play out in work and at home.”
Shifting a person’s mindset can help them “ride the wave” of menopause, “rather than being blown around in the storm” says Jessica.
She adds: “It's resetting so you can look towards your future more positively.”
Understanding the unconscious mind
You might think you have a handle on how you think and feel about menopause, but your unconscious mind might also be at play.
“Our unconscious mind does so much for us that we're not consciously aware of, like blinking and breathing. We just do it,” says Jessica.
“When we start to become aware of changes in our body, we add societal and genealogical meanings to that to inform our experience.
“But we are not our grandmothers or our mothers, we are women of our generation.
“I would love more women to know that they can consciously create a new menopause experience.”
Fabulous Menopause Matters
An estimated one in five of the UK’s population are currently experiencing it.
Yet the menopause is still whispered in hush tones like it’s something to be embarrassed about.
The stigma attached to the transition means women have been suffering in silence for centuries.
The Sun are determined to change that, launching the Fabulous Menopause Matters campaign to give the taboo a long-awaited kick, and get women the support they need.
The campaign has three aims:
- To make HRT free in England
- To get every workplace to have a menopause policy to provide support
- To bust taboos around the menopause
The campaign has been backed by a host of influential figures including Baroness Karren Brady CBE, celebrities Lisa Snowdon, Jane Moore, Michelle Heaton, Zoe Hardman, Saira Khan, Trisha Goddard, as well as Dr Louise Newson, Carolyn Harris MP, Jess Phillips MP, Caroline Nokes MP and Rachel Maclean MP.
Exclusive research commissioned by Fabulous, which surveyed 2,000 British women aged 45-65 who are going through or have been through the menopause, found that 49% of women suffered feelings of depression, while 7% felt suicidal while going through the menopause.
50% of respondents said there is not enough support out there for menopausal women, which is simply not good enough. It’s time to change that.
One way to do this is through hypnosis, says Jessica, and dissociation, which can help “ease symptoms of anxiety and hot flushes, so we can get on with our lives”.
She focuses on coaching the unconscious mind and “understanding that it believes it's helping us.
“However, it can get its wires crossed and operate from outdated information from our younger self, so we give it new information – like a system upgrade.”
Jessica says women must remember that in perimenopause and menopause “they can choose their way forward, they need to think about how their life will be now their children have left home and they might not be needed in that way, but we can redirect that purpose.”
She adds how important it is to have the information you need to make decisions about your health too: “To have enough knowledge and awareness to be able to see through all the confusion and be able to make a choice that feels right.”
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Whether that’s hormone replacement therapy (HRT), talking therapies, hypnosis and/or lifestyle changes.
You can download Jessica’s Menopause Toolkit from www.jessicavassallo.com.
What is the menopause and what age does it usually start?
Menopause is a natural part of ageing, which usually happens when a woman is between the age of 45 and 55.
In the UK, the average age for a woman to go through menopause is 51.
It occurs when oestrogen levels in the body start to decline.
During this time periods become less frequent or they can suddenly stop, and after menopause occurs women will be unable to become pregnant naturally.
Around one in 100 women experience menopause before the age of 40, and this is known as premature ovarian insufficiency or premature menopause.
Many celebrities have spoken out about their own experiences, including Lisa Snowdon, Davina McCall, Michelle Heaton and Zoe Hardman.
What are the symptoms?
Menopausal symptoms can start months or years before your periods stop, and can last until four years or longer after your last period.
- Hot flushes
- Changing or irregular periods
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Anxiety and loss of confidence
- Low mood, irritability and depression
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness or discomfort during sex
- Reduced libido (sex drive)
- Problems with concentration or memory
- Weight gain
- Bladder control
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