Tears rolling down my face has actually been quite a frequent occurrence for me especially at the beginning of my perimenopause journey when I had no real idea why or how to better balance my constantly fluctuating emotions. Tears rolling down my face has also happened frequently during this COVID-19 pandemic, and all the stress this time of great uncertainty, change, overwhelm and constant stress. Perhaps you have reacted in the same way? But this weekend the tears rolling down my face were the release of happy emotions from laughing so much. Having just spent this weekend taking time out, and for the first time in months honestly closing the laptop on work, having a very dear friend come and stay for a few days, and sharing funny stories reminiscing over past adventures. We laughed so hard that our stomachs ached and tears flowed freely. And wow! How amazing I felt with so much laughter! And so this weekend has made me return again to the deep appreciation of why we need to be able to laugh through our menopause journeys.
April is Stress Awareness month in the U.K. and it’s super important to highlight stress because it exacerbates all of our menopause symptoms , and how to ‘build’ a calmer you. And my very first post on Instagram in April was inviting us all to remember how good it feels to laugh and why it’s essential to sprinkle (or even better drop by the bucket load) laughter into our lives – and especially during our menopause journeys.
The potential effect of stress on our menopause symptoms is importance to understand: midlife for women is often a highly stressful time, with many major life events coinciding with one another, such as parental death, children leaving home, and divorce . And on top of that, going through menopause can itself be a stressful event, as it marks a transition to a new phase of life, with many women talking to me about a sense of loss accompanying the end of their fertility.
When we experience stress, the body becomes primed for attack (our ‘fight, flight or freeze response), and the adrenal glands choose to produce cortisol and adrenaline over the production of oestrogen and progesterone. This is bad news for us menopausal women, as we need these hormones for our health and emotional well-being. This seesaw balance between the sex and stress hormones becomes more sensitive during the menopause when the adrenal glands have to produce oestrone to replace the dramatic fall in oestradiol produced in the ovaries.
And let’s remember oestrogen is not just a sex hormone, but that women need oestrogen to support the function of almost every part of the body, including our brain.
A good sense of humour can’t cure all of the things that stress us out, but there is a good amount of evidence about the positive things laughter can do for us. In one study, Dr. Mary Bennett, at Indiana State University, measured the chemical reactions that took place in healthy women who laughed at funny films and a group that watched a tourism film. She found that those who laughed had their immune system boosted.
“the use of humour to stimulate laughter could be an effective
complementary therapy to decrease stress..”
And not only do we know that during our menopause transitions we feel more stressed but there are many of us who also experience increasing feelings of low mood and depression. Did you know that laughter can help us there too! Studies show that ‘laugher therapy’ is successful even in combatting clinical depression.
Now if that’s not enough to convince you to try and add more laughter to your days during menopause then let me tell you about how a good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load and reduce your feelings of stress, it actually causes physical changes in our body. Laughter can:
Not convinced yet, then let me tell you that laughter isn’t just a quick pick-me-up, though. It’s also good for you over the long term. Laughter may:
Adding a few more chuckles into your routine is easier than you think. Here are five ways to get started:
1. Watch something funny
Whether it’s a favourite TV show, a stand-up comedy special or silly cat videos, make time to enjoy something you find humorous.
You can even make a ritual out of it — make a snack and curl up into your favourite comfy spot a few times a week.
2. Share a joke
Whether it’s a groan-worthy joke or a series of bad puns, share a few jokes to brighten your day and someone’s day. Or, if you’re the one in need of some laughs, ask a loved one to regale you with a few funnies.
3. Hang out with a pet
Our furry, feathered and scaly pals are great at delivering laughs. Chase your companion as they scamper around the house, break out the laser pointer or play with their favourite toy.
4. Chat with a friend
The next time you find yourself in need of a few guffaws, consider reaching out to a pal who cracks you up. You might swap funny pictures or remember a comical moment you shared. Whether through a video call or a few light-hearted text messages, connecting with a friend can add more laughter to your life.
5. Try laughter yoga
Consider trying laughter yoga. In laughter yoga, people practice laughter as a group. Laughter is forced at first, but it can soon turn into spontaneous laughter.
Did you find this blog helpful? If you’re looking for more resources to support you to have a positive menopause journey please read my blog “Why yoga is so good for us during perimenopause and menopause?”. Wanting to find emotional balance during your menopause transition in a one-to-one with me – set up a discovery call and let’s have a chat.