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Autumn Anxiety, Aches & Pains

How can you reduce anxiety and the painful joint and muscle pains

The season of Autumn in the UK or 'Fall' in North America, is often accompanied by a flurry of colour. But it is also a season that marks the transition towards Winter.

In Menopause Yoga we associate autumnal loss of leaves with the hormonal changes in the perimenopause. At first the fiery display of burnt gold and russet red shimmer like the last heat of summer. There can be fiery feelings or irritability or menorage, alongside a grief of letting go.

But as this autumn season crosses over into early winter it can become wet and windy, dampening our spirits and tossing our emotions about in blustery storms. Like a leaf falling from the tree, we can feel uncertain, unanchored, not knowing where we will land. We may experience psychological symptoms such as anxiety, heart palpitations, overwhelm, which are vasomotor symptoms partly caused by low oestrogen. Progesterone is one of our calming hormones, so low or fluctuating levels may cause insomnia and day-time fatigue.

Other symptoms common at this later stage of perimenopause and early winter include joint and muscle aches which may also be caused by the fluctuations and then decline in oestrogen, which is an anti-inflammatory. Symptoms include frozen shoulder, lower back pain, and soreness in your other joints such as the SI, hips, knees, ankle and wrists.

Replacing the lost hormones with HRT can help reduce these symptoms but the unpredictability of these perimenopause fluctuations means that we also need to address other aspects of our lifestyle:

Here are some generalised guidance drawing on western nutritional science, Ayurveda and Menopause Yoga. Always seek advice from a medical or nutritional specialist.

In Ayurveda the symptoms of anxiety, worry , insomnia and fatigue are associated with an imbalance in the Vata dosha.

  • Start your day with gentle somatic movement and twists to aide digestion, lubricate your synovial joints and keep you warm and flexible. Cold damp weather can affect your joint and muscle pain.

  • After showering, or bath, massage your skin with a natural oil and add a few drops of essential oil, such as geranium or begamot. The sensation of touch can both warm your skin and stimulate the nerve endings. Rubbing the soles of your feet can also feel grounding.

  • Set an intention for your day ahead. Keep it simple and something you can remind yourself if plans go awry. Scroll below for a mantra I use whenever I feel anxious.

  • Plan you day and meals ahead - routine helps to calm anxiety.

  • Avoid over scheduling your day - less is best to avoid Overwhelm and fatigue. Focussing on one task and doing it well will reward you more than multi-tasking.

  • Eat warm, cooked foods that include photo oestrogen such as lentils and pulses, green leaf and seasonal vegetables natural to your climate. Turmeric and cardamon are warming spices that may also help to alleviate joint pain.

  • Ashwaganda and Shatavari are both Ayurvedic remedies that you can either include in your meals as a powder or a capsule taken with water.

  • Seek these vitamins in the foods you eat, but if your meals are not providing sufficient vitamins and minerals, consider taking these supplement: Magnesium, B complex vitamins, and vitamins C, D, and K.

In Menopause Yoga we practice a Vata grounding class that includes gentle slow, movement to lubricate into the joints and ease muscle pains, followed by grounding poses such as standing and easter forward folds, inversions with the legs raised to slow the heart rate, and meditation and breathing techniques to calm your mind.

Combined together, this practice helps too improve vagal nerve tone and help us drop into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is believed to be the reason why we feel calmer, more grounded and rested. If you practice these then techniques at night, it can prepare you for a good night of sleep.

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