How can I manage my Menopause Anxiety?

Many women in the Peri Menopause or Menopause find themselves struggling with anxiety, perhaps for the first time in their lives.

Anxiety can have a huge impact. It makes everything more difficult, and it can really prevent us from enjoying life or finding pleasure in things that might previously have brought us great joy.

I struggled with anxiety during the perimenopause, and it was definitely one of my most challenging, and disruptive symptoms.

I am therefore passionate about trying to help women to reduce or manage anxiety in the Menopause, and I am keen to share what I learn along the way.

Many women struggling with anxiety tend to make things worse by berating themselves for not being able to ‘snap out of it’. However, approaching anxiety with self- criticism is clearly neither helpful or productive, but it is often a never-ending loop that many women find themselves in, leaving them desperate to ‘sort themselves out’

Managing our own anxiety can be extremely challenging when we are in the stress response. However I really resonate when I hear women saying they want to ‘sort themselves out’. After all, we are the ones living day to day, hour to hour with this often continuous over- thinking anxious brain, which is why I feel so strongly about helping women to help themselves!

So, why are ‘thinking solutions’ not always the most helpful?

It has become clear to me that trying to manage my over- thinking, anxious brain using the brain is futile because the stress response causes parts of the brain involved with logical thinking to shut down. Chronic (long term stress) causes the left frontal cortex responsible for maintaining positive emotion shuts down, whilst the right pre frontal cortex increases levels of negative, threat filled emotions.

So, what else can WE do to help ourselves?

In her brilliant book ‘Awakening the Child Heart’, Carla Hannaford explains,

Research is showing that the best way to change your minds and physiology is through taking action.’

I have to say that I wholeheartedly concur.

There are many actions we can take to reduce our manage anxiety and a very powerful way is by consciously slowing down and lengthening our breathing as I have explained in previous blogs. I myself practice and share various breathwork techniques, and even trained as a breath work coach to deepen my knowledge because I have witnessed just how powerful simple breath work practices can have on our physiology.

However, I have also recently started to practice and share heart focused breathing practices, and Carla Hannaford’s  wonderful book explains beautifully just why these and other heart focused practices are so powerful, so I am keen to share what I have learnt.

 What are heart focused practices?

Heart focused practices can be described as any activities that help to bring our hearts back into a coherent state. Coherence can be described as:

‘An ordered, consistent harmonious functioning within any system, as with the physical, biochemical, systems of our bodies.’

‘A coherent heart rate variability is observed when a person experienced feelings of appreciation, or a playful, harmonious environment, was engrossed in joyful work, or learning, or meditated,’

Simple pleasures have the power to bring us back into coherence, whilst our modern day, ‘hurried society’, lacking in these simple pleasures only leads to stress and incoherence,

Carla therefore urges us all to re- engage with ‘the joy of interactive activities, like unstructured play, explorations in nature, singing, dancing, drawing, creating, reading, or being read to.’

Why is heart coherence so significant in managing stress and anxiety?

Achieving heart coherence has huge significance for managing stress and anxiety because the heart and the brain are in constant communication. The coherence of the brain is determined by the coherence of the heart, so by focusing our attention away from the brain and instead focusing on activities that increase the coherence of the heart, we will be directly bringing the brain back into a coherent state.

So what might heart focused action look like


  • Take a few slow, conscious heart focused breaths, or be guided by a heart focused breathing technique of your choice
  • Offer yourself kindness and compassion and approach your anxiety with awareness and acceptance


It is important to start to recognise when the anxiety strikes, but instead of getting lost ruminating in your negative, anxious thoughts,…

Simply notice them, e.g. ‘Here they come again….’


Anxiety is horrible so it is important to offer yourself a HUGE DOSE of self-compassion by speaking kindly to yourself like you would a good friend…

‘This is so  hard…., difficult……, scary……., ….overwhelming (you fill in the blanks) right now, but

‘I am OK. Everything will be Ok. I am Loved and I am safe.’ ‘

Noticing and acknowledging our anxieties is crucial because when we face them rather than resisting them they start to lose their grip, or power over us.

Choose Heart focused ACTION!

Change your focus of attention


  • Your body: stretch your arms, your fingers, or your toes, walk, run or dance
  • Your eyes: look up to see the beauty of the love and nature all around you. Move your focus to the flowers, the sky, the trees, the birds outside your window
  • Your mouth, to sing, laugh, express your love and gratitude
  • Your hand to touch- give yourself or someone a hug, or simply put your hand on your heart


  • To the kind words of others
  • To the beautiful sounds of nature: the bird song, or the crashing waves on the beach
  • To music that lifts you, brings back wonderful memories, or comforts you,
  • To your heart and do something creative that brings you joy, something for someone else, or simply connect with someone that makes your heart sing.

Simply moving your focus of attention away from your thoughts to ANYTHING that connects you with your heart has the power to bring your heart and your brain back into coherence.

Hope and inspiration.

What is so wonderful to learn is that we are naturally wired to return back to a coherent state, and I am reminded of this daily as I  witness a dear friend living with a devastating life limiting condition. She clearly experiences anxiety beyond anything many of us can even begin to imagine. However, I never fail to be inspired by how she copes with her challenges on a daily basis, and it has become so very clear to me that she is choosing to live from her heart every single day. Living and loving from her heart has become her absolute superpower. The love and appreciation she shares with everyone she holds dear makes my heart burst, and her ability to continue to find pleasure in the simple sounds and sights of nature, in reading, and in spending time with her precious family and friends is truly inspiring.

So if you are struggling with stress and anxiety I would urge you now to treat yourself with love and compassion and to start focusing on your heart.

Please also be assured that anxiety is not your ‘fault’. It is very common. Worrying about things that are out of our control or threaten our sense of safety is part of  human nature.  We are hard-wired to keep ourselves safe.

It is also important to recognise that we will often face stresses in our life. This is why it is crucial to build resilience and develop coping strategies that will enable us to navigate life’s inevitable ups and downs.

The irony hasn’t escaped me that I continue to push myself out of my comfort zone into anxiety provoking situations on a regular basis with all the various events I do despite having struggled with anxiety throughout my whole adult working life. However, I truly believe that is because my choices and actions now very much come from the heart. I recently found myself cooking for 31 people at my monthly supper club because my dear friend and wonderful chef Lexi was away. As the familiar butterflies returned, I shared my nervous feelings with another dear friend who was offering to help on the night.  Her initial response to cooking for such a large group was ‘gosh’ but it was quickly followed by ‘Don’t worry, it’s all about love anyway!’ If ever there was anything I needed to hear in that moment, that was it, and it has stayed with me ever since.

If we choose to focus our attention away from our head and into our hearts we can start to bring our hearts and heads back into a coherence, and then anything is possible.

If you would like any support to putting any of these practices into action I would be delighted to help you. If you would like any information on my 6 week ‘Find the Pause in the Menopause’ program please do get in touch. My next group program is starting on 28th February but if you prefer it is also available as a 1:1 coaching program.

If you are interested in finding out more please get in touch or feel free to book a gifted 1:1 session here.

In the meantime, thankyou for reading.

Wishing you a happy and heartfelt week ahead,

Harriet x

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