Author: Dr Juliet McGrattan

Tips for Peri-menopausal Anxiety

My last blog talked about how common anxiety is around the menopause and how women often don’t realise that hormonal changes can be the underlying cause for their anxious symptoms (you can read it here). Let’s move on to what we can do to relieve anxiety. What can you do when you’re feeling anxious? How can you calm your mind and stop anxiety overwhelming you? Here are my top tips for easing anxiety in the peri-menopause: Understand it. Read about it, listen to podcasts, talk to other women. The more you understand what’s going on in your body, the more informed you feel. This can really help you feel in control. Tackle it positively. Anxiety is a horrible feeling but there are things you can do to ease it. Approaching it with a positive mind set and a problem solving head, will help you through. Reduce anxiety-inducing drinks and food. Caffeine is known to produce the same jitteriness and increased heart rate as anxiety. Reducing or cutting out caffeine can help hugely if you’re someone …

Anxiety in the Peri-menopause

Anxiety is very common. In 2013 there were more than 8 million cases of anxiety in the UK and with the Covid-19 pandemic, there are certainly many more this year. Feeling anxious is really horrible and can lead to a lot of self doubt. Sometimes there is a trigger but more often than not, anxiety seems to come out of the blue. Many women find they feel anxious at certain times of their menstrual cycle and many women experience anxiety symptoms in the lead up to the menopause. So what is the link between hormones and anxiety and why is it that anxiety can be the first sign of the menopause? Let’s first remember that anxiety can be a good thing. A state of hyper alertness was designed to help us when we meet an enemy, to either stay and fight or to flee the scene (the fight or flight response). That can certainly help us to perform well when it matters, perhaps in an exam, interview or a tricky conversation. It’s only when that …

Giving up Caffeine – one year on

I gave up caffeine last summer. Caffeine can have all sorts of effects on the body, both positive and negative. It can increase your alertness, give you an energy boost and even help your sporting performance. On the other hand it can make your heart race, give you heartburn and irritate your bladder. It’s addictive and without it you can find yourself feeling irritable, drowsy and with a banging headache. Personally I decided to give it up because I was getting a few symptoms that I thought might be caffeine related and I felt drinking it had become a habit that I just didn’t need. Since I started working from home, going to the kettle had become my break from my desk and I’d slowly increased up to five or six cups of tea a day. I only drink coffee once or twice a week. How much caffeine there is in tea varies according to the type of tea and how long you have brewed it for but there are about 70mg of caffeine in …

Quick Question – Can I run with sciatica?

I’ve been asked whether it’s ok to run with sciatica several times recently, by different people so I thought I’d answer it in my #quickquestion series. Will running with sciatica make it worse? Could exercise make sciatica better? Should you just rest when you have sciatica? What’s on many runner’s minds is how long they will have to take off running with sciatica and whether sciatica means they might never run again. Understanding what sciatica is helps to answer all of these questions and more so let’s start there. What is sciatica? The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body. We have one on each side. It leaves the spinal cord in the lower back and travels through the buttock, down the back of the thigh and calf and underneath the foot. Any damage to or squashing of the nerve causes symptoms of pain, tingling, numbness and sometimes weakness in the area of the nerve below the point that it is compressed. So, if it is squashed behind the knee, the …

Why I Started Running

It’s fair to say that running changed my life. It’s not an over exaggeration. I went from someone who thought running wasn’t for her to someone who left her career to spend more time running, writing about running and helping others to find good health through running. I can honestly say when I started out, it was absolutely not my intention that any of that should happen. It wasn’t even on my radar. In trying to understand how to help other people to become active, I’ve been reflecting (as you know, I do a lot of this!) on why I started running twelve years ago. What was it that I was looking for? What did I need that I thought running could give me? And, in turn, how does that influence what I now say to people to encourage them to be active? I wanted to share it with you to see if you identify, if you are a runner or to see if it would encourage you if you were thinking about running. These …

Quick Question – How do I check my breasts?

How do you do a breast self-examination? What should you look for when checking your breasts? What do you do if you find a breast lump? It can feel a little overwhelming so don’t worry if you don’t know where to start. With some simple tips and advice you’ll soon grow in confidence. Thank you for all the comments and shares of my previous blog – How often should I examine my breasts? I explained it was all about being generally breast aware rather than having a set time to do an examination but that routine and reminders can help to avoid the months flying past without you doing a check. A helpful comment from a reader pointed out that the wonderful charity CoppaFeel do a text reminder service so you’ll get sent a monthly message to remind you. No let’s learn how to examine ourselves. First up … Remember that every woman is different and so is every breast. Breasts are made of fatty tissue and fat is lumpy so at first you might …

Quick Question – How often should I examine my breasts?

I was examining my breasts the other day and suddenly realised that I couldn’t remember the last time I had done it. Then I felt worried that if I found a lump it could have been there for several months. There’s nothing like the fear of breast cancer to invoke anxiety. Thankfully all was well but it served as a reminder to me of the importance of this quick, simple home check that we can all do. So, how often should you check your breasts? Should you examine yourself every time you get in the shower, once a month or is a quick feel every now and then when you remember enough? Cancer Research UK states, ‘When diagnosed at its earliest stage, almost all (98%) people with breast cancer will survive their disease for five years or more, compared with around 1 in 4 (26%) people when the disease is diagnosed at the latest stage.’ However, not all breast cancers can be detected by breast self-examination. Other methods such as breast screening through mammography are …

New IGTV Channel

Twitter has long been my favourite social media channel. It’s played a fundamental role in my change of career. So many connections, opportunities and even the job advert for the post I took as a PHE Physical Activity Clinical Champion have all come from Twitter. Real life friendships have resulted too which is wonderful. I never really ‘got’ Instagram. I posted pictures there, browsed and liked a few things but it was more of a personal photo album for me than anything else. I just didn’t have the time for the crafted posts that filled my feed and seemed to get the most attention, I always felt I might as well have written a blog. Over time however I’ve grown to love Instagram, I’ve found an increasing amount of support, pleasure and diversity. I understand it better and so I’m taking the plunge and embarking on a new challenge. I’ve launched an Instagram TV Channel. I’ve called the channel Active Health because that just really seems to sum up what my work is about. I …

Loving the Long Runs

Running is a funny old thing isn’t it?! Sometimes you can’t get enough of it and then there are periods where you just can’t seem to motivate yourself to even get out of the door. I’m particularly prone to this see-sawing when it comes to long runs. I started lockdown only doing short runs but I’m doing lots of long ones now and really enjoying them. I began thinking and analysing (as I’m prone to do!) what it is at the moment that means I’m already planning my next long run even though my legs are still sore from yesterday’s one. For me personally, a long run is anything over 10k (around 6 miles). I think the distance is irrelevant because in the past, my long one would have been anything over 5k. It just depends where you are in your running journey. Any run where the focus is on pushing distance rather than pace or speed counts as your long run in my mind. Here’s what I’ve come up with as the factors that …

Quick Question – How do I know if I’m peri-menopausal?

This time last year BBC Breakfast ran their brilliant menopause coverage which increased awareness, educated and informed the public on this important topic. I made a contribution and visited the sofa to talk to Louise Minchin about exercise and the menopause and I wrote a blog to enlarge on the subject too. It definitely started conversations but one year on are we still talking about it? Do we feel more knowledgeable? It’s important that the conversation continues. Women still have many questions and concerns. How do I know if I’m peri-menopausal? How can you tell if you’re in the menopause? These are questions I hear all the time so let me answer them in my #quickquestion series. Terminology First up, a quick reminder of what the terms mean. You reach the menopause when you haven’t had a period for 12 months, the average age for this to happen, in the UK, is age 51. When you are heading towards the menopause but not there yet it’s called the peri-menopause (peri means around or surrounding) and …