How to cope with anxiety during menopause
Author: Magnus Wood
In this article, I focus on three things you can do to help cope with, and even master your anxiety.
Understand when you are anxious
Anxiety has a timeline. We can feel anxious because of our thoughts of what has happened in the past, or what might happen in the future, as well as being anxious about the present.
Accept the past, what has happened or didn’t happen, and refuse to be held an anxious prisoner of it today. The past is done. Over. It is how you choose to remember it; which may have nothing to do with what actually happened. The past has shaped who you are but it doesn’t have to shape you forever. You are creating a new past every moment of every day. When today is done it will be the past. Out of reach and with the potential to cause you no anxiety – if you make that choice.
Of course the future is unknown but there is no reason to waste emotion and energy hoping and living in the future. Hope and fear are the same – they are both the enemy of the present moment. Hope makes us worry that things won’t turn out the way we want them to; which makes us anxious. Fear of the worst that will happen in the future paralyses us in the present because of the anxiety it creates.
How present are you in what is going on right now? How often do you talk to people, simultaneously feeling anxious about what might be happening elsewhere or thinking about the next thing you have to do? Immerse yourself in the present moment. Lose your thoughts in what you are doing at that time and you will start to feel much calmer.
Understand what is in your Circle of Control
There are things around us we can manage and change – like our attitudes, our health, wealth, and happiness. This is our Circle of Control. Around that is another circle of things we can have an affect on – such as how people feel when they interact with us. This is our Circle of Influence. Then around that, is everything else. The couple arguing on the train this morning. The scooter that nearly hit you. These are things outside of our control.
Bad things happen. Some things we can stop happening, or deal with if they do. Some things we can speak up about, and use our influence to try and change the outcome. And some things we can do nothing about. So there is no point feeling anxious about them. No point fretting about what we can’t change.
Instead, when you are feeling anxious about something over which you have little or no control, remind yourself of this; today I have the creativity and energy to change what I can change, and the strength to deal with what I can’t.
Be very clear with yourself about what is and isn’t within your Circle of Control. Then do something about what you can control and change.
Understand that thoughts become things
How you see the world is your world. If you think people at work are out to get you, your anxiety will kick in and then you will start acting differently towards them which in turn will make them act differently towards you. If you think you can’t do something, your anxiety will increase and you will probably end up not being able to do it.
Thoughts are what we say to ourselves. Our words become our beliefs. Our beliefs shape what we do. So our beliefs become our actions. Our actions get fixed because we don’t like to change much, so our actions become our habits. And our habits become the reality of our life. Turns out “just one more cake” is never the end. A bloater cake monster is.
So, when you become anxious, you start acting in ways that don’t work for you. And then you become a bloated cake monster, or whatever your version of that is.
Understand that most things you are anxious about will either: never happen, not be as bad as you think it is going to be, will certainly be different to your anxious imaginings, and could actually turn out way, way better.