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Waves

Health and well-being jigsaw puzzle

Updated: Jun 13


Jigsaw puzzle


I believe health and well-being is a jigsaw puzzle which consists of many pieces. I recommend assessing your jigsaw puzzle at any point in life however I believe this is especially important for women in the menopausal transition. I have followed this approach and found it helpful.


I suggest taking time to honestly look at the various jigsaw puzzle pieces (described below) then choose one (or two) piece(s) with highest potential gain that you are willing to work on. You may recognise a piece that you are not in a position to tackle at this moment - alcohol is a common piece in my experience that is identified. Congratulate yourself for this insight and set aside until you are ready to approach this piece.


I am a perfectionist by nature however in my life aiming for perfection has sometimes led to disappointment and restricted my growth therefore instead my aim is to develop a jigsaw puzzle piece with conscientiousness, curiosity, gratitude, kindness and patience incorporating that piece into my daily life. Personally (and in my experience of helping others) I have found this often leads to physical and/ or psychological benefits which encourages the individual to work on other pieces. When the time is right the jigsaw puzzle can be re-assessed and another piece can be chosen. These are some of the pieces I have identified - can you think of anymore?


  • Hormones (for those who cannot or don't want to start HRT take comfort that this is only one piece in the jigsaw puzzle)

  • How we breathe matters. Symptoms that can be related to breathing inefficiently are: if you are struggling to maintain nasal breathing whilst awake, asleep and moving, have noisy breathing whilst sleeping, excessive breathlessness during movement and/ or feeling anxious. I promote the aware, assess, action approach.

  • Sleep: click for information on sleep hygiene. One cause of fragmented sleep is discussed here

  • What we eat - Dr Chatterjee & The Doctor's Kitchen offer great advice.

  • When we eat

  • What we drink (dose and timing of caffeine, sugary drinks, drinks containing sweeteners, alcohol - Emma Gilmour's website has lots of information on changing the relationship with alcohol)

  • Circadian (24-hour) rhythm

  • Strength training (muscle mass decreases approximately 3–8% per decade after the age of 30 and this rate of decline is even higher after the age of 60. Very important for reducing falls, osteoporosis and dementia. Click to read Jane Wake's excellent blog)

  • Movement

  • Stretching activities

  • Stress

  • Sensuality (reduces risk of heart attack & stroke in addition to improving flexibility in the autonomic nervous system and can be developed with or without a sexual partner. Neuropsychologist Donald Hebb famously said that “Cells that fire together, wire together” which describes the concept of neuroplasticity. The genital nerve pathway gets weaker if it isn't used. Genitourinary syndrome of the menopause can be treated. Samantha Evans is an ex-NHS nurse who provides lots of great advice as @samtalkssex on Instagram)

  • Moving efficiently

  • Spirituality

  • Sense of purpose - read, watch, attend events that fit with your core values

  • Connection with others

  • Creative activities (in this context I mean an activity that we find hard but we are willing to improve. Significant positive changes occur in the brain as a consequence)

  • Calming activities: such as being in nature, meditation, yoga, calming music, mindfulness etc strengthens the Vagus nerve which helps control excess inflammation, blood pressure and a vast array of crucial bodily functions.

  • Getting comfortable with feeling uncomfortable

  • Deliberate cold exposure (releases positive neurotransmitters, utilises white fat, improves healthy brown fat, blood glucose control and immune system)

  • Deliberate heat exposure

  • Kindness (to self and others)

  • Gratitude (this has been very powerful for me and I have shared my knowledge in a free Brain & Body Boost Challenge)

  • Playfulness


In my perimenopause I started by addressing my hormones (by commencing HRT) and how I was breathing as I had become a perimenopausal snorer. The improvement I felt led me to work on others pieces that either I had less to gain or I was actively avoiding (e.g. strength training). Over a number of years I have developed lots of pieces in my jigsaw puzzle.


What pieces have you worked on and which are you considering working on?


If you would like to explore this approach further I collaborated with Louise Harris (holistic well-being coach) in a 90 minute webinar discussing the many pieces of the perimenopause & menopause jigsaw puzzle. Click here to purchase the recording.


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2 Comments


Thank you for reading my blog and your kind words 🙏 Enjoy exploring a puzzle piece with conscientiousness, curiosity, gratitude, kindness and patience to yourself 😊

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Hi Louise, a great blog post! I am looking forward to exploring this post further by accessing the links and thinking about my jigsaw puzzle pieces even further. 🤩

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