Meg Mathews: 5 things you can do yourself to relieve menopause symptoms

·5-min read
Meg's menopause crept up her, but there are over 34 symptoms - Jooney Woodward
Meg's menopause crept up her, but there are over 34 symptoms - Jooney Woodward

Since 2018, Meg Mathews has been one of the UK’s foremost menopause campaigners, determined to use her profile to end the stigma surrounding it. In her weekly column for Stella magazine, she reveals what she’s learnt. This week: 5 things you can do yourself to relieve menopause symptoms

There is an adage: ‘listen to your body when it whispers because you won't have to hear it scream.’ That sums up menopause to me – not every woman will experience symptoms, but others will have a terrible time. Either way, ignoring what’s happening can lead to your body screaming so loud you will be forced to listen.

My menopause crept up on me. There are 34 symptoms, ranging from hot flushes to crippling anxiety, dry mouth, foggy brain, insomnia, breast pain… I could go on. In particular, I suffered badly with anxiety and night sweats.

As I’ve mentioned before, HRT helped to balance my hormones but it’s not for everyone. These are the top five other things that helped me feel better on my menopause journey. I urge you to give them a try.

Grounding your feet

For me, this is a brilliant one. You can be anywhere – you don’t need a beach or a large garden. Find a local park or a patch of grass somewhere quiet and take off your shoes. It’s a way to connect to the earth, and without sounding too ‘out there’ this is a simple and free method that really helps me to manage my anxiety. Once you’ve taken your shoes off, visualise your feet planted firmly on the ground. Imagine you have roots from your feet connecting you to the earth, going deeper and deeper until you reach the earth’s core. Keep your eyes closed and as you hit lava, picture a light surrounding you and protecting you. Take some deep breaths here and enjoy the warm feeling of being held and feeling completely grounded.

Since I moved to Cornwall earlier this year, I haven’t worn shoes much at all. I have walked all around Newquay barefoot – the only shop with a shoe policy is the local supermarket! I’ve always walked barefoot. For me it's normal: I can walk over stones and pebbles and not feel any pain; growing up in Africa this was just what we did. I’ve even been known to walk barefoot in Primrose Hill to get my morning coffee. I encourage you to give it a go.

CBD oil

I take CBD oil every day. I use The M Blend (from £64.49 for 10ml). The strength is measured in percentages: a good place to start is 10 per cent and work your way up. I take 30 per cent and have three drops every morning and every evening under my tongue. It’s helped me massively with aching joints, anxiety and sleep. I started using the chocolate and mint flavoured CBD oil and loved it so much that I bought into the company.

Exercise

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: regular exercise has helped me get through the menopause and helped to protect my bones from osteoporosis.

It’s common to put on weight at the start of the menopause and feel sluggish. It’s not always easy to get the motivation together to exercise but my advice is to keep moving. This might be a daily walk, an online workout or a bike ride with your friend. I love dancing and start every day with music and a dance around my house.

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I also recommend that you invest in a good exercise mat. Introduce weights into your exercise regime. You don’t need to use heavy weights – start with two tins of beans and work your way up. Don’t rush out to buy heavy weights and injure yourself.

Some people find meditation really helps but I’ve learnt that I’m not good at it. I have tried so many times. That said, I did discover Kassandra on YouTube, who does short daily yoga and meditation classes with affirmations. I’ve enjoyed doing these in the past and 10 minutes seems very manageable.

Now that I’m living in Cornwall, my exercise routine includes gym workouts with weights and swimming in the sea whenever I can.

Drink more water

I know everybody says it, but the more water you drink the more hydrated your brain is. I find my foggy brain goes the more water I drink. I hate plastic bottles, so I was really happy to discover recently the Phox V2 water filter. It’s made with glass and has an eco-friendly refillable cartridge. It’s affordable and super easy to use – I fill it from the tap and it makes the water taste good.

Get a pet

We know that when you touch an animal your body releases oxytocin, the love hormone. A number of studies have shown that when dogs and humans interact with each other in a positive way (for example cuddling) both exhibit a surge in oxytocin, a hormone which has been linked to positive emotional states. I feel nothing but love for my dog Ziggy, he gives me a reason to get up every morning. We enjoy long beach walks, cuddles and lots of shared oxytocin. This has helped with my anxiety and general well-being. I completely love my daughter Anais, of course, but she doesn’t live at home!

I hope these recommendations help you to feel better. Don’t forget there is light at the end of the tunnel and it doesn’t go on for ever. Everyone needs different support and we all experience menopause in our own way. There are lots of resources available: speak to friends, family, your GP, your boss, your dog and get the support you need. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help when you need it.

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