When most people think of the kinds of symptoms that happen during menopause, they think of the physical things: You stop getting your period regularly, you have hot flashes, that sort of thing. But what you may not realize is that your mental health can also take a hit. For multiple reasons—you aren’t sleeping as well, your hormones are fluctuating, you have mixed feelings about the stage of life you’re in—many women experience depression, anxiety, and irritability during menopause. But you aren’t stuck feeling cranky or blue for the next few years—there are things you can do to lift your spirits:
1. Stay active. Working out can help relieve symptoms by boosting endorphins, which are chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. It also gives you something else to focus on, helping to break you out of your funk.
2. Eat happy foods. Pass on the processed stuff and try to follow a Mediterranean diet—research shows that can have the best impact on mood. That means eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, olive oil, and fish. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon and avocado, are also good for lifting spirits.
3. Be social. Having high-quality relationships can help protect against depression. That’s why it can help to grab coffee with friends or call your sister for a chat.
4. Prioritize your mental health. Relaxation techniques can help with depression and anxiety, according to research. Meditate, do yoga, or try breathing exercises if you notice your stress levels rising.
5. Keep a gratitude journal. A few days a week, take out a notebook and jot down a few things that make you feel grateful. Maybe it’s a partner who always does the dishes, your extra cuddly dog, or a warm spring day.
7. Volunteer in your community. Spend a morning at the local soup kitchen or team up with neighbors to pick up trash on your street. Research shows volunteering can help with depression and improve quality of life.
If you feel like your depression or anxiety is getting worse or affecting your daily life or relationships, reach out to a doctor for help.
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