Have Fears About Menopause? According To New Research, This Can Really Help Reduce Symptoms

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Hot flashes, irritability, anxiety, night sweats, low libido, and depression are just a few of the many symptoms associated with menopause. Most of us have at least one friend or family member who has struggled with the side effects of this massive hormonal shift. If you're a woman, it's normal to feel some anxiety about this time in your life.

But is there anything you can do about it? Can you reduce the discomfort you experience with diet and lifestyle changes? According to a new Mayo Clinic study—published in Climacteric: The Journal of the International Menopause Society—yes. Their research showed that mindfulness can help reduce symptoms of menopause, especially for women who are under higher amounts of perceived stress.

Many of us are already familiar with mindfulness, which is the practice of focusing on the present and using tools like meditation and breathing exercises to anchor yourself in the moment. Previous research has already shown that having a mindfulness practice can help reduce stress and improve quality of life, but this study goes a step further and shows how it can help women with specific symptoms in a specific era in their life.

The study collected dates from 1,744 women ages 40 to 65 and found that women with higher mindfulness scores experienced fewer menopausal symptoms. Interestingly, more mindful women did not have fewer hot flashes or night sweats, but they did have significantly less irritability, depression, and anxiety. This suggests that mindfulness might change not the number of symptoms you experience but your ability to cope with them.

So what does this really mean? According to the study's lead author Richa Sood, M.D., "These findings suggest that mindfulness may be a promising tool to help women reduce menopausal symptoms and overall stress."

Luckily, mindfulness is something that can be cultivated (for free!) through meditation, journaling, yoga, breathing exercises or other practices. If you're not sure where to start, try this simple 60-second breathing exercise or just sit still and observe your thoughts. "The goal during mindful moments is not to empty the mind but to become an observer of the mind's activity while being kind to oneself. The second step is to create a pause. Take a deep breath, and observe one's own space, thoughts and emotions non-judgmentally. The resulting calm helps lower stress," explained Dr. Sood.

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