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Are Good Intentions Actually Good For Us?

Petra Coveney shares her thoughts and a poem on how to create healthy habits in the menopause.

The New Year has become synonymous with advertising pressure to become a 'New You.'

But research shows that negative associations with ourselves rarely result in positive life changes. In fact these self-berating slogans can be counterproductive and leave us feeling more negative about ourselves, more likely to engage in unhealthy thoughts and behaviours.

Thoughts really do create feelings and these emotional responses are inhabit our bodies causing a negative loop that actually prevents us from creating healthier habits.

What would happen if she flipped these negative nagging into positive encouragement? what if we changed the tone of our Inner Critic into our encouragement from our Best Friend.

What if we started each day by NOT writing a TO DO list of tasks we needed to achieve in the next 24 hours (including 'get more sleep!'). These lists are usually unrealistic and just fuel self approbation.

What if we stated each morning by listing one thing that we are grateful for, and one thing that brings us joy? Could we set a realistic commitment to including that one joyous thing in our day - today, not tomorrow or next weekend?

What if we lay in bed and enjoyed a physical body stretch, some gentle movements to mobilise your joints, muscles and spine, a little lying twist to stimulate your digestive juices, and then start your day. What if you then praised yourself for giving yourself 5 minutes to feel good? This small act of self loving cold be the start of creating a new healthy habit.

Doesn't that sound so much kinder and more enjoyable? More sustainable, not just for January...

In my Menopause Yoga classes this month, we have been using the theme of joy, loving kindness and healthy habits in our 60 minute morning practice. Sharing exercise including yoga is a great motivator and may stimulate the release of Oxytocin, our happy HUGGING hormone that helps us to feel safe, grounded and connected. Oxytocin declines in our menopause as a result of lower oestrogen that affects the production of this hormone in our brain. So if you are feeling low mood, or motivated, give yourself an Oxytocin hug every day, it's free and feels good.

Below is a poem I read in today's morning class. It's a message for everyone, but particularly people in the menopause who are often told by marketing and advertising that ageing and the way they look is not good enough. I hope the poem resonates with you:


She had set GOOD intentions many times in the past,

But somehow these GOOD intentions never seemed to last.

She made plans for a 'NEW YOU,'

Plans, to 'IMPROVE,'


desperate to change her body shape.

But these so called 'GOD INTENTIONS,'

just left her feeling BAD.

Instead of feeling 'BETTER,'

her 'NEW YOU' just felt sad.

These plans for self 'PERFECTION,'

just led to self 'REJECTION,.

So she started to reflect,

maybe she was already perfect.

Instead of seeking to be SMALLER, LIGHTER, LITHER LESS,

She let go of all the striving,

let go of all the stress.

She embraced herself with kindness,

loved her body and personality.

She nourished herself;f with people,

who supported her creativity.

She smiled and gave herself a HUG,

breathed in deeply...

Instead of seeking to be less, she felt WHOLENESS,

she felt FREE.

(By Petra Coveney with love to everyone in the menopause.)

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