Journal / Phenomenal Women

What do our midlife minds need right now to thrive?

6 Sep, 2021

As many of you know, research is a big part of what we do at MPowder. And around 28% of new customers help us by tracking their symptoms weekly for the first month on our powders. This insight allows us to learn more about the impact our recipes have on the most persistent menopause symptoms. It allows us to proactively intervene with our health concierge service if we can see them struggling. And it ensures our range is measurable - something sadly lacking in much of the supplement space.

6 Sep, 2021

Whenever our data shows a member of our community is struggling, I get in touch directly. And in the last 2 months, the common thread across all the conversations I’ve had has been around the loss of joy - and an ambivalence about returning to the connections, the people and life we had, even though we feel worn down and low.

As life shifts again, we’re feeling uncertain.

The acclaimed psychotherapist and author Esther Perel has reflected on the purpose of rules and what happens when they disappear.

On the impact of lockdown, she writes;

‘A rule is a complex set of things that organises you. That gives you a sense of how to behave, what to do, how to think, how to relate to people. When you don't have any of that—you are a partner, a parent, a lover, a employee, a manager—and it's all happening at the same table in the same sweatpants, it becomes like a fog. You start to experience a type of lethargy. You start to lose the pleasure of what you do.’

Esther Perel, Psychotherapist.

So, what can we do to help ourselves return to the world feeling well? How do we nurture joy?

Ester’s response? To create a card game called 'Where Should We Begin? A Game of Stories'. Filled with thought-provoking prompts like, 'I’ve always wondered if it’s normal to… and 'The last promise I broke was…’, it’s meant to rebuild connections by getting people to tell stories that they might otherwise hide behind pleasantries, particularly now, when we’re all less socially confident.

Stories connect us to people. But they are also an important element of how we connect to ourselves. 

Perel writes, 'I ask questions in my practice where people are invited to rewrite their stories so that they don't stay stuck there, because the story is connected to your core beliefs.’

When we look at menopause as a lifestage, much of how we experience it is influenced by the stories we’ve been told and the ones we’ve subconsciously absorbed - as a result of society’s messaging.

It’s important to take time to look at those narratives - and to establish whether they serve or hinder us. It’s also important to take time to create habits and practices that nourish rather than punish. As we return to the routines that September inevitably brings, think about the rhythm of your day. How can you carve out time just for you? And how can you carve out time to invite in joy?

I always find September a good time to reset - and in resetting, explore what it is that I want to find ways to have more of...particularly the opportunity to feel more joy. And this often happens as a by-product of increased self care and self awareness. And the practice of intention setting.

Intention setting is a short positive statement of intent that is inspired by your wish to heal, change or enhance an aspect of your life. Intention setting is not something you can think yourself into – it is an embodied practice.

Setting intentions is a practice that invites you to take time to connect with your body to notice where you are called towards.

Sometimes this act of really listening - deeply - to ourselves also involves noticing things you desire, that you may have dismissed in the past.

So, this weekend, perhaps take a little time to undertake the following enquiry, shared with our community in our Fireside session with the wonderful Henny Flynn and Gabriella Espinosa earlier this year:

Find a quiet space, choose a comfortable seated position with your feet making contact with the ground. Engage in gentle movement or stretching slowly, before coming into stillness. Then:

Place your hands on your heart or belly centre.
Take 5 rounds of slow deep breathing – inhaling softly and exhaling slowly through the nostrils.

Consider the following enquiries:

  • What is something I want to explore or deepen?
  • What do I need more of in my life, in my work or in my relationships?
  • What is my heart’s deepest desire?
  • How do I want to feel in this next stage of my life?....

Notice how these words land in your body and which parts of your body lighten-up the most? How does your heart feel when you respond with the enquiry?....

  • Come up with a word or phrase – an affirmation that signifies what you are intending and repeat it softly to yourself.
  • Write down the affirmation on a piece of paper, hold it in your hands and as you gaze down at the words notice the sensations or feelings that arise for you.
  • Breathing life into your intentions requires practice. Place the affirmation in an area that you spend time in every morning (the bathroom mirror...the fridge in the kitchen), letting it serve as a daily reminder of your intention.

And, if you looking at additional methods believed to enhance joy in the everyday, consider too:

Social interactions: from the incidental to the deep, increase happiness and joy by up to 17% according to research by Harvard

Service: gifting back - time, action, skills - to a cause, community or friend is good for us. We now know that giving activates the same parts of the brain that are stimulated by food and sex. Experiments show that altruism is hardwired in the brain—and it's pleasurable. Helping others may just be the secret to living a life that is not only happier but also healthier, wealthier, more productive, and meaningful.

Movement: Exercise increases endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline and endocannabinoid -- these are all brain chemicals associated with feeling happy, feeling confident, feeling capable, feeling less anxiety and stress and even less physical pain.

Food: The gut+mind connection is real. And we’re learning more about the role of the gut in how we feel, all the time. In menopause, taking care of our gut is particularly important. Our stomachs naturally produce less acid during this time, which can impact its delicate balance - and result in changes that can be seen in new food sensitivities, stomach conditions like bloating, IBS - and changes to our mood.

But, perhaps the most important practice to put in place is patience. With yourself. With others. As the rules reset, it may be bumpy. Take it slow. And take good care.

With love, Rebekah

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