Midlife can be a troubling time for most of us, but there are things we can do to brighten our day and help us rediscover our smile.
Today we examine 8 different lifestyle habits that may help pick you back up.
The best thing to help shift you out of whatever kind of a rut you are in is movement.
Daily walking for wellness should be a priority. Try to find a local park or nature strip to walk in for the added mental and physical benefits that come with being in a green space.
If due to pain or immobility movement is difficult see if you can find a local pool and do your wellness walks in the water instead.
Build on to this whatever other kind of exercise lights you up. That could be dancing, swimming, tennis, golf, cycling, yoga, weights and the list goes on. Some find it easier to get back into the routine of exercise if they book a group of sessions, there is nothing like having a date and time in your schedule to help increase the likeliness of it actually happening.
My final thought on movement is if you really can’t exercise you need to get someone to manually move your body around for you. Your body needs to receive nutrition and clear out its waste products. Without movement, stagnation occurs, waste products don’t drain, pain and inflammation set in and your mood drops. Any kind of manual therapy is going to be helpful but if you can find a local lymphatic therapist this is where I would start. Actually, if you are experiencing any form of pain this is something you should consider.
These techniques are particularly helpful when your low moods are linked to stress. If you are new to mindfulness think of it as being fully present and focused at the moment. Some of the easier activities to start with include doing jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, adult colouring in and journaling. With journalling, it works best if you use a good old fashion pen and paper. There is no right or wrong way to journal, you can use it as a brain dump, a highlight reel from the day, a way of processing negative events, or documenting activities. I like to use mine as a sort of gratitude journal. I often start with 3 things that happened today that I’m grateful for. It's so important to try to foster a feeling of gratitude especially when life sucks.
Possibly the most well-known form of mindfulness is meditation. Meditation comes in many different shapes and forms with many finding guided meditation or progressive muscle relaxation meditation an easier form to start with. Breathwork also fits in here. I’m a big fan of Paced Respiration, simply because it has menopause-specific research using this technique. This technique involves breathing 6 breaths a minute, think of it as counting to 5 on the inhalation and out to the count of 5 as well. For more details on this technique and the research I mentioned go back and check out my article on Breathwork for menopause.
There is something magical about being in nature. The Japanese call it shinrin-yoku or forest bathing. Simply be in nature, embrace your senses and enjoy the colours, the smells, the sounds, and the tactile sensations. To get even more benefits take your shoes off and walk barefoot adding in the benefits of grounding at the same time. Grounding is also called earthing, it’s all about being in contact with mother earth, allowing for the direct transfer of energy from the ground into your body. It’s a scientifically researched, free and effective way to improve sleep, reduce pain, improve immunity, manage stress and lift your mood. If this is a new concept you might like to read The Health Benefits of Earthing where I explain it in more detail.
Then there is gardening, my sunflowers are out in bloom at the moment, they are the smallest sunflowers I’ve ever seen but they are mine and they bring me so much joy watching them bloom. It’s not just the satisfaction of watching your hard work come to life there are also the many benefits especially to your microbiome when you start digging in the dirt and getting your hands dirty.
These days we are surrounded by junk light. Many of us have heard about blue light by now, this is the light that emits from our television screens, computers and phones, it disrupts our circadian rhythm, trashes our sleep, zaps our energy, and ruins our mood. But junk light can also come from light bulbs especially LED and fluorescent lights. Its is not just blue light, it can also be green and violet light. If poor sleep, moods and energy are your main concerns listen up, you need to get early morning natural sunlight, ideally, about 20-30 minutes, if your location doesn’t allow for this consider investing in a red light or near-infrared light device. Look for safer light bulb options, as a general rule halogen or incandescent are better but these days more and more specialised light bulbs are hitting the market such as true light.
Is a really fun way to improve your mood. Think about a time when you sang your heart out like no one is listening, maybe it's when you are alone in your car and your favourite song comes on and you just can’t help but sing out loud. Do you remember how good that feels? If you don’t already have a sing-out-loud playlist, create it, and make sure you include songs from your youth. Songs that take you to happy times and happy places.
Music is a well-researched form of sound medicine, in my article on music and menopause I discussed the results of a music meditation on women in the menopausal transition. This study involved the women listening to music, sitting in a comfortable chair, with headphones on and just soaking up the music and the results were extraordinary. If you missed this article you have to go back and if you haven’t tried a music meditation yet do it today.
When was your last live concert, the buzz you get from an amazing event will stay with you for a long time, but it doesn’t even need to be a big concert, it can be a solo jam session at home if you are lucky enough to be able to play an instrument.
The creative women amongst us know that Art therapy is healing. It doesn’t matter your medium you could draw, photograph, quilt, paint, knit, sculpt, or sew, what matters is the act of creation. As we transition into menopause our brains change and we move into right-brain dominance - the creative side of our brain. It’s now that many of us rekindle or advance our interest in arts. My only caution here is to avoid the more toxic arts like lead lighting.
Have you heard of Marie Kondo? She is a Japanese tidying expert. There is a lot to be said about how your physical space affects your mental space. It’s hard to be optimistic and motivated in a cluttered environment. Her method is designed to help you clear out anything dragging your energy down and leave behind your personal possessions that spark joy for you.
Sometimes even just rearranging your furniture can brighten up your room and change its energy.
If you can afford to redecorate or add a splash of bright colour this can also help.
While we are here a deep clean is also warranted. You can’t deny how good it feels to live in a clean home. Unfortunately, our homes can be some of the most toxic places especially when it comes to air quality. You may not be aware that environmental toxins cause hormonal disruption, insomnia, fatigue, headaches, and mood swings. Open your window and let the fresh air in. Swap out any chemical cleaners for natural products. Ban perfumes and scented candles from your home. Stay on top of any mould issues. If your budget allows seriously consider investing in a quality air filter and if you wish to learn more, check out my Healthy Homes for Healthy Hormones program.
Are you a dog or a cat person? I’m a dog person. There is a lot to be said about pet therapy no matter what kind of animals you like. It’s possibly the best fit for loneliness, not only because they make beautiful companions but the welcome you get when you come home is priceless, the excitement and pure joy they experience when you step in the front door makes you feel seen, wanted, appreciated, and loved. It’s hard to stay sad with the love bomb they drop on you.
I hope you have found something useful in this list. The image attached to this article is my happy place. I am most filled with joy, peace and happiness when I'm swimming in my river, I hope you find your happy place too.