Perimenopause and Stress: How Pilates Can Help You Find Balance and Relief
With April coming to a close, it means that Stress Awareness Month will be coming to an end. Stress is a common issue that so many of us face in our daily lives. Whether it's due to work pressures, family responsibilities, or other life challenges, stress can have a negative impact on both physical and mental health. And these can often come to a crescendo at the time of perimenopause. Joy!
And, perhaps unsurprisingly, as with many things, the way that women experience stress compared to men does differ. Whilst a common experience for both genders, research suggests that women may be more likely to experience certain types of stressors and to respond to stress differently.
Hormonal changes: Women experience hormonal fluctuations throughout their menstrual cycle, during pregnancy and menopause, and in response to stress. These changes can affect mood and increase the likelihood of experiencing stress-related symptoms such as anxiety and depression.
Social pressures: Women may experience stress related to social pressures such as societal expectations around appearance, career success, and caregiving responsibilities. These pressures can be particularly challenging for women who are trying to balance multiple roles and responsibilities, as well as the hormonal changes that are happening.
Coping strategies: Women may use different coping strategies to manage stress than men. For example, women may be more likely to seek social support and are more likely to engage in things such as talking about their feelings with friends or family whereas men may be more likely to engage in problem-focused coping strategies such as trying to solve the source of their stress.
Physiological response: Research suggests that women may have a different physiological response to stress than men. Women may experience a greater activation of the "tend and befriend" response, which involves seeking social support and caring for others, while men may experience a greater activation of the "fight or flight" response.
Fortunately, there are many ways to manage stress, and one effective option is through practicing Pilates.
Pilates is a form of exercise that is focused on developing core strength, flexibility, and coordination through controlled movements. However, Pilates is not just a physical workout - it can also have powerful effects on reducing stress and improving mental well-being.
Here are some reasons why stressed women should consider adding Pilates to their wellness routine:
Mind-body connection: Pilates involves a deep focus on breathing and proper alignment, which can help to cultivate a mind-body connection. This means that you become more aware of your body and your breath, and this increased awareness can help to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation.
Low-impact exercise: Pilates is a low-impact form of exercise, which means that it is gentle on the joints and can be suitable for people with injuries or chronic pain. This can be especially helpful for women who are experiencing stress-related physical symptoms, such as tension headaches or muscle stiffness.
Core strength: Pilates is known for its emphasis on developing core strength, which can have benefits beyond just physical fitness. A strong core can help to improve posture, reduce back pain, and provide a sense of stability and support. This can be especially helpful for women who are juggling multiple responsibilities and need to feel grounded and centered.
Mindfulness: Pilates requires a focused and mindful approach, which means that it can be a helpful tool for reducing stress and promoting relaxation. The practice encourages you to be present in the moment and to let go of distracting thoughts and worries, which can be a powerful antidote to stress.
Community: Pilates can be practiced in a group setting, whether that is online or in person which can provide a sense of community and support. This can be especially helpful for women who are feeling isolated or overwhelmed by their stressors.
Pilates really is a powerful tool for managing stress and improving overall physical and mental well-being. By focusing on the mind-body connection, cultivating core strength, and practicing mindfulness, we can find a sense of calm and relaxation that can help to navigate life's challenges.
It is not uncommon for my clients to come to a class experiencing a large amount of tension in their body, with tight necks and shoulders who feel lighter, more relaxed and freer in body and mind after a class. And for me, that brings a huge sense of satisfaction and happiness, as well as a reminder that I need to give myself the space to do the same and experience the relief Pilates brings.
If you would like to explore adding Pilates into your life, Raise Pilates offers Pilates in Kingston and Surbiton, and online classes, in groups and one to ones. Drop me a message to arrange a free consultation and we can get the healing power of Pilates into your life!