This week has felt like a throwback to 2020 for many in our community.
The significance of Christmas, the permission it gives us to seek out light and joy, might feel a little threatened right now. As the individuals often responsible for managing expectations, for facilitating the space for celebration to happen, our brains can quickly go into overdrive.
- Should we be attending office parties?
- Should we be assuming a large family gathering this year?
- Will we be able to travel to loved ones?
Because we’ve been here before, fear can come quickly. Anxiety ricochets from the shadows. But, it is worth reminding ourselves that it is the very fact that we HAVE been here before, that can give us the confidence that we will navigate this phase too. We have the experience within us to find the right way through.
One of the most valuable lessons I've learned through perimenopause is that the route to joy isn’t in the planning, it is what is happening right now. And there is much we can do to access pleasure, and soothe our minds.
Here are a few of the practices I’ve incorporated into my routine. Much comes from the rare privilege I have of listening to the amazing team of experts that surround our business and guide our community, as well as the stories you share around the tools that work for you in times of stress.
1. Wear Your Happy: Last December, we were delighted to host the fabulous Karen Arthur, founder of Wear Your Happy and bespoke clothing house REDDSKIN, and also a phenomenal advocate for menopause awareness, inclusivity and diversity.
Karen’s own menopause journey led her to discovering the joy and comfort in clothing and fabrics.
As women, we are restrained by so many rules around what we are ‘allowed’ to wear. From the age it is no longer appropriate to wear something above the knee, to what our body shape demands. And then, as we enter menopause, we’re hit with the sense that society no longer really wants us to be visible anyway. The brands we shopped with before, feel closed to us. We can’t see - in media, in the streets - enough women rocking ageing with style. So, we shift to safe. And, with that, we fade a little.
Karen’s philosophy is simple and powerful. Clothes have the ability to lift our moods. They carry stories. And dressing should be about dressing for those moods and for our own personal pleasure. This isn’t about buying new stuff. But about shopping in our wardrobe. Finding the items that lift us. Rethinking what we put together. Choosing items because they bring joy. And injecting play back into how we show up to the world, everyday!
To find out more about Karen’s own menopause journey, head to our journal HERE. And to check out her work, head to her website.
2. Gratitude as a tool to realise contentment: The 5 minute journal is a simple aid to help you focus on ‘now’. You don’t need a special book to write into (although there are many beautiful ones out there!), just a series of prompts that can help you both reflect upon and appreciate what might otherwise be missed.
The concept is simple and based on robust research into journaling as a tool to enhance self-awareness by helping us detect and track patterns of behavior, thoughts, and feelings. The focus with this set of prompts is around appreciation and building a sense of agency, which can be incredibly valuable when we’re feeling unsettled. Take 5 minutes in the morning, and 5 minutes at the end of the day to answer the following:
In the morning:
3 things I am grateful for
What would make today great?
...then at the end of the day, return to the journal and answer:
3 things that made today special
What would have made today even better?
3. Fear-setting as a tool to soothe a troubled mind; It doesn’t help to push fear to the back of our minds. Because our minds are trained to solve problems. If you leave fear in the wings, your mind will carve out time to return to it. Which is why this exercise is so powerful. Developed by entrepreneur, author and world-famous life-hacker, Timm Ferriss, it allows your brain to go where it wants to go - and by doing so, enables you to decide how you’d deal with it.
“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”
Seneca the Younger
The technique is simple. And I’ve refined it over the years to make it more relevant to near-term life decisions.
Make 3 columns on a piece of paper. And label them: DEFINE, PREVENT, REPAIR.
Write down everything that is worrying you in the first column. Use column two to outline what you could do to prevent this scenario from occurring.
In column 3, write out what you could do to repair the situation if you did nothing (or could do nothing) to stop it from happening.
Take a step back and evaluate the impact of everything you’ve listed. What would be the benefit of taking action now. And what is the potential impact of doing nothing and waiting to ‘repair’?
In nearly every instance I’ve used this exercise, my mind has been settled by recognising where I have agency to control the things that worry me, and recognising I can also plan to respond to the eventualities that may occur but I can’t mitigate against now.
This weekend, I plan to take stock of Christmas with my first mince pie! To find the joy that can be present in how we approach our day and the small delights that occur everywhere, and to allow myself to map my worries.
Together, we’ve got this.
With love Rebekah and the MPowder Team.
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