Tools for when the Cogs starts TurningNov 13, 2023
Cognitive behavioural therapy may not be the first thing that springs to minds when we consider tackling menopause symptoms, but it can be helpful for a range of problems, including anxiety & stress, low mood, hot flushes & night sweats, sleep problems & even fatigue.
As such, & as you may have already surmised, its benefits aren't just limited to menopause, but can improve wellbeing in general for the vast majority of us.
You know that stress can ramp up a range of symptoms, drive negative thought patterns and behaviours. CBT can help nip the unhelpful thoughts in the bud, reducing the effect of the symptom, and stopping the cycle of repeat symptoms and negative coping strategies.
CBT can help us remember that anxiety and anxious or depressive thoughts are not facts, but just one view of a situation. It can help us become more detached from the effects of fight or flight and consider whether a threat really exists, what we would say to a loved one in such a situation, & whether we have managed through similar experiences before. It can give us a reset on valuing our own qualities & competencies.
CBT helps with flushes as being stressed means that our 'flushing threshold' is much lower, so anything we can do to reduce stress is helpful. Any kind of controlled, deep breathing technique is positive here &, again, it helps you detach from whatever is making you stressed.
Changing our thought patterns is also a CBT tool that stops flushes & sweats from increasing. These symptoms can be exacerbated by feelings & thoughts of embarrassment, everyone noticing, concerns of how we look, being out of control, how tired we're going to be the next day.
Instead of those thought spirals, it helps instead to consider that we're coping, one flush at a time; that this time will pass; & that you've managed following disturbed sleep before, & know you can cope.
Do whatever action you need to cool off. Remember that you DO notice your flushes more than other people, & how likely are they to view you negatively anyway?
At nighttime, notice any negative thoughts about fatigue or not being able to get back to sleep, but don't engage with them. Cool off. Dry off. Keep doing your deep breathing. Get back into bed & follow a relaxation exercise.
I'm not a CBT practitioner, but if you'd like to know more, please reach out to my friend, mental health practitioner, Paula Dunlop. You can find out more here.
You could also take a look at Dee Stockman's 'Sleep is Magic' course.
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