Act, Don't React! A Mindful Lifestyle Change Program for Menopause
Menopause and the years leading up to menopause can be a difficult time for many women. For many women, the body (and mind) that they've grown accustomed to seems to be in rebellion. Sudden we=eight gain, brain fog, memory loss, and sleep issues are suddenly an issue, and what worked in the past is no longer effective.
The Act, Don’t React program is designed to encourage women who are undergoing or who have completed menopause to make lifestyle changes that proactively improve their health and wellness. The goal of the program is to take the time to get to know this new mind and body - figure out what it needs and how it works, so that you can remain vital at home and at work. Once we are aware of how to listen to this new body, we can choose to respond in a way that supports and empowers us.
In the Act, Don’t React program, a group of 4 - 8 participants meet weekly for 2.5 hours over 6 weeks for experiential learning of the following:
- Barriers to mindfulness
- Mindful eating
- Mindful exercise
- Anti-inflammatory foods
- Mindful food shopping and preparation
Mindfulness concepts are introduced in a safe, supportive, group atmosphere, with plenty of time for personal reflection and group discussion. Each session will begin with a breathing exercise designed to reduce stress and improve focus. Homework is provided each week to aid participants in practicing mindfulness techniques at home. Time is set aside during each session to discuss thoughts, observations and questions generated by the previous week’s homework.
Approximately 10 years before a woman stops menstruating, her body begins to make less estrogen and progesterone, causing many of the symptoms associated with menopause such as hot flashes, headaches, forgetfulness, inability to concentrate, irritability, depression, insomnia and vaginal dryness (Murray & Pizzorno, 2012). Additionally, women may experience psychological stress from changing life patterns such as divorce, children leaving home and widowhood (The North American Menopause Society, n.d.).
In addition to regulating the menstrual cycle, estrogen and progesterone provide a number of protective functions for the heart, blood vessels and bone. After menopause a woman is at increased risk for atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, hypertension, type 2 diabetes , osteoporosis (Nelms, Sucher, Lacey, & Roth, 2010), urinary tract and vaginal infections, Hepatitis C and gum disease (The North American Menopause Society, n.d.). Most of these conditions are inflammatory in nature, and can be addressed by eating foods that help reduce inflammation (anti-inflammatory foods), reducing weight, increasing physical activity and reducing stress (“Metabolic Syndrome - Dr. Weil’s Condition Care Guide,” n.d.).
Murray, M. T., & Pizzorno, J. (2012). The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine Third Edition (3 edition). New York: Atria Books.
Nelms, M., Sucher, K. P., Lacey, K., & Roth, S. L. (2010). Nutrition Therapy and Pathophysiology ( ’002 edition). Cengage Learning.
The North American Menopause Society. (n.d.). Menopause Information, About Menopause. Retrieved December 9, 2015, from http://www.menopause.org/for-women