Hi ho, hi ho….

Posted by on Feb 16, 2009 in Meditation/mindfulness therapy, menopause, work | 3 comments

It’s off the work we go.

I’ve seen this joke a zillion times. And I’m not amused.

But seriously. A study reported in ‘Ahead of Print’ edition of the journal Menopause suggests that a majority of menopausal women report daily physical or emotional symptoms that significantly affect their daily personal, professional and social lives.

Researchers surveyed 961 members of the National Association of Female Executives about their knowledge and understanding of hormone replacement therapy. The participants were divided into subgroups based on whether or not they were pre-, peri-, menopausal or post-menopausal.

Among study participants, 88% reported personal experiences with menopause, 95% had physical symptoms and 79% had emotional symptoms. Some 40% said that these symptoms caused problems in at least one area of their lives. More than a third of women who used HRT to treat symptoms cited the health concerns as a reason for discontinuing.

Undoubtedly, individualized care is critical to improving quality of life for women in or around menopause. Indeed, the researchers cite this in their conclusion. But when it comes to our professional lives, how can we improve our daily experiences when hormones are wreaking additional havoc on daily stressors and challenges?

I would like to suggest that integrative therapies may offer a path to salvation. For example, pace respiration or meditative breathing can easily be done at your desk or even on a park bench during a lunch break.  A 1995 article in Menopause found a decline in the number of hot flashes and average skin temperature among women who practiced breathing exercises.

Paced respiration involves deliberate inhalation and exhalation of air.

  • Sit comfortably
  • Inhale for 5 seconds through your diaphragm (the goal is to fill your diaphragm, not your upper lung area), pushing your diaphragm out
  • Exhale for 5 seconds, pulling your diaphragm in and up
  • Repeat several times

Another technique is known as “counting breath:”

  • Sit in a comfortable position with your spine as straight as possible
  • Count your inhalations and exhalations. When you inhale for the first time, think “one.” When you exhale, think “one.” Next, think “two,” and so on. Continue until you reach 10
  • If you have time, start over again and do another set of 10
  • The ultimate goal is to 5 sets

Meditation takes time and practice so try not to beat yourself up if your mind wanders while doing either of these exercises. The primary goal is to focus on your breathing and to calm your inner and outer fire.

Any other practices that work for you? I’d love to hear!

Read More