It's that time of year when we come together with our loved ones and celebrate gratitude. Sometimes, with the daily struggle of menopause and midlife It can feel overwhelming to find a place for thanks, but research shows that women who do take the time to be thankful are healthier and happier for it.
Menopause is a natural phase in a woman's life, typically occurring in her late 40s or early 50s, when her reproductive system gradually ceases to function. It is a time marked by significant hormonal changes, which can lead to various physical and emotional symptoms, such as hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep disturbances. Practicing gratitude during the menopausal transition can be a valuable tool for coping with these changes and promoting overall well-being.
How does a focus on gratitude impact mental health? Research shows that it can reduce stress and improve physical and mental health.
Many studies over the past decade have found that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed. This positive shift in mindset can be particularly beneficial during the menopausal transition when hormonal changes can contribute to mood swings and increased stress.
In a study, one group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation (source: Harvard Health).
There's a growing body of research on the benefits of gratitude. Studies have found that giving thanks and counting blessings can help people sleep better, lower stress, and improve interpersonal relationships. These benefits can be particularly valuable during menopause when sleep disturbances and mood swings are common (source: NPR).
A large study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University showed that thankfulness predicted a significantly lower risk of major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, phobia, nicotine dependence, alcohol dependence, and drug abuse. This suggests that incorporating gratitude into your daily routine during menopause can have a positive impact on your mental health (source: NAMI).
Experiments have shown that people who partake in the "three good things" exercise, which prompts individuals to think of three good moments or things that happened that day, see considerable improvements in depression and overall happiness, sometimes in as little as a couple of weeks. This practice can be particularly helpful during the emotional ups and downs of menopause (source: Time).
Incorporating gratitude practices into your daily life during menopause can be a powerful tool for managing stress, improving emotional well-being, and enhancing your overall mental health. These practices can help you navigate the challenges of this life transition with a positive outlook and a greater sense of resilience. Remember that menopause is a unique and individual experience, and finding strategies that work for you, including gratitude, can make the journey more manageable and fulfilling.