Worry is such a pointless occupation, we all know that. And yet sometimes when hormone levels start to fluctuate some of us are beset by anxiety that seems to come from nowhere.
Anxiety caused me untold angst during my own perimenopause. It didn't matter how much my head reassured me that all was well, something nagged away inside my brain, telling me it was a lie. I walked around with a vague feeling of dread which sat in the pit of my stomach like a heavy stone.
I would wake up in the morning and was immediately assailed by a horrible sense of impending doom. To try to counter it, I would lie in bed and think about each of my four children. "He's doing x with y and is going to go to z," I would think, "so I know he's ok." "I'm seeing her at lunch, so I can check she's ok..." It was endless.
To be fair, our family were dealing with some serious difficulties at the time. Weirdly, I seemed to be able to cope with the big, obvious stuff. It was the little things...
It comes round, so fast.
One minute, you're learning how to be a parent, how to keep this tiny, delicate human being thrust into your care alive. You help them learn to walk, talk, function. Navigate milestones like first teeth, potty training, first day at school.
Before you know it, you're helping with homework, freezing your bits off at the edge of a [insert appropriate ball-game here] pitch, washing dirty kit, learning the offside rule.
Then there are hormones to contend with, slammed doors, broken hearts, exams...
Until, finally, the day comes when they fly the nest.
It's a happy day, right? After all, isn't this what we wanted? Happy, confident, independent children? We're pleased for them, proud.
1. Recognise your Feelings
So what is this hollow feeling in the pit of the stomach? Why do our eyes smart with tears on the drive home? Why does walking into that quiet, empty house for the first time without them make your stomach turn over?
If someone you care about is in the throes of a bout of depression it can be really difficult to know how to support them. I've been clinically depressed and I've supported people who are depressed, so I have experience of this horrible condition from both sides as both carer and cared for.
I've been talking to fellow sufferers and, drawing on their experience and my own, here are my tips on how to support someone who is depressed:
I'm fine, thanks. That's what we say, isn't it, when asked how are you? I'm fine, thanks. But what if you're not? What if you are sinking, struggling, not fine at all?
I live a fairly public life insofar as I have written about myself on blogs and in books, I show up regularly on Facebook live videos, on Youtube and, now, on the new Midlife Movement Podcast. Most people know me as optimistic, generally happy, always smiling.
If you follow my output regularly, though, you will know that I have had my battles with anxiety and depression throughout my life at various points. I always know when I'm starting to "slide".
There are warning signs that I dare not ignore. These include:
Introducing Vivienne Joy, Queen of helping people "get out of their own way" and achieve incredible mindset shifts in life and business. I am delighted that Vivienne agreed to be one of the expert contributors in the Membership and her course, called "7 Steps to Stress Less", is both thought provoking and transformative.
Viv talked to me during Launch Week about her work and why she wanted to be involved with The Midlife Movement. You can find out more about Vivienne and her work here: She Enjoys Business Movement.
Talking about stress, I had a funny old day recently.
I was supposed to be going to London to a meet-up with an organisation I belong to called Project Positive Change, so I got all dressed up (ok, I admit it - that means I brushed my hair...) and went down to the station.
Catching a train and finding places I don't know when I have to be somewhere at a set time are, for me, a couple of those silly, irrational stresses we can all have, so I suppose I was probably a...
So many women tell me they lost their confidence as they approached menopause. For some it's a sudden omg, stop in their tracks moment, often accompanied by a panic attack. For others it's a gradual wearing down, a slowly dawning realisation that everything they had been certain of before suddenly isn't so certain any more.
Sometimes, there seems to be no apparent reason for this loss of confidence. Anxiety, depression, a feeling of being lost can come out of nowhere. So what can cause this loss of confidence and what can we do we do to arrest it? How do we get our mojo back?
1. Physical appearance. Slowing metabolism often results in weight gain, especially around the middle. Facially, we lose collagen and start to notice a softening in the jawline, wrinkles, eye bags - if we feel we don't recognise ourselves in the mirror any more it can knock confidence.
How well do you breathe?
If you're anything like me, day to day you breathe from the chest as you rush about "doing" stuff. Yoga Teacher, Teacher Trainer and Midlife Movement Coach, Dawn Wright, talked to me live about the importance of taking a moment to breathe properly.
Dawn has a wonderful course in the Midlife Movement Membership with four nourishing breathing practices that will make a real difference to your life. Members have full access to all the courses and resources in the Membership. You can have a taster "breathing pause" here, at 10:44.
Before I sat down to write this blog post, I made a cup of tea, fed the birds, ran a bath, had a cup of tea, checked the news, had a cup of tea, caught up with my Facebook feed…
Procrastination is not only the thief of time (a phrase coined by English poet, Edward Young), it is also a prime self sabotaging mechanism. You know you need to write that report/make that phone call/pay that bill, but somehow you just can’t bring yourself to get on and actually do it!
What do we mean when we talk about “Self Sabotage”? Any behaviour that gets in the way of achieving our goals, or does us harm, such as:
Unhelpful habits keep us trapped in inertia, ultimately damaging our self esteem as well as our prospects in life. We are, it seems, all too prone to shooting ourselves in the foot when it comes to...
"I'll be there for you, if you'll be there for me too…” The Rembrandts
Go on - admit it: you started singing the theme tune to Friends, the sitcom, when you read the title of this blog post! Or maybe it was just me...? One of the great things about long standing, like-minded friends is that you don't have to explain your cultural references.
Following on from my previous blog post where we talked about the need to be heard, a member of The Midlife Movement free Facebook Group, Annette, commented:
“‘Girls night”’, and so forth, is not just about getting out with friends. It’s about being heard. My bestie lives 900 miles away and we talk daily. Don’t know how I’d function without our conversations."
The need for female friends is real whether or not we are in happy relationships or sociable workplaces. There is something about female camaraderie that both soothes the soul and bolsters our resolve. Good female friends...
or 20,000 words a day
She knew she had a problem. Not a small, everyday problem of the kind that others would say, I know what you mean, but an enormous, insidious, dangerous problem that was growing larger by the day.
“Did you know,” she said to her daughter, “that women on average use 20,000 words a day, whereas men only need 7,000?”
“Not every thought that pops into your head has to come out of your mouth, Mum,” her daughter replied through a mouthful of toast, eyes on her magazine.
“If I spoke all my thoughts aloud, I’d never stop talking,” she protested, swallowing back her next words as she caught a withering glance.
“Just think before you speak, Mum. We don’t all need to share your every observation.”
She knew she wasn’t using her daily 20,000 word allowance. She knew because she was constantly biting off the ends of her sentences, or,...