7 Reasons Why Reducing Stress is Key to Good Health — Before, During and After Menopause
Why is managing our response or reaction to stress, and where possible reducing stress, important in improving our perimenopause experience?
Some of the key symptoms of perimenopause and menopause include anxiety, depression, mood swings, worsening PMS, and feelings of overwhelm. Often, as women in our 40s and 50s, we find ourselves getting increasingly frustrated with our apparent inability to cope with what should surely be normal living… We may take our frustrations out on our family, friends, employees or clients, with dire consequences for our marriages and partnerships, work relationships and, at the end of the day, our income. We may find that menopause is not talked of; at the very best, only the obvious symptoms of hot flashes, sweats and insomnia are discussed. For some women, menopause is a phase of life that is little understood, and when working in an often male-dominated profession, we daren’t suggest or imply that it may be impacting our work performance.
Many women in our 40s and 50s are at the pinnacle of our profession in our own right. We are supporting any partner, dealing with the roller coaster ride of our kids’ teenage years, or even experiencing the empty nest syndrome, while still working hard to support our children through college. When my son left home for drama school, even though it was only a 6-month course and I have a younger daughter, I began to feel the bereft longing that so many women have been through ahead of me. I am lucky enough to have a husband, but wondered at my own mother’s stoical courage when the youngest of her 4, my younger brother, finally left home. We often feel misunderstood and taken for granted (although of course, this era is not unique in that respect), and feel that we are juggling too many plates. We may be wondering what is next for us, looking for a new phase in our career, or we may have mixed feelings about our own retirement.
Often, we are feeling the strain of caring for an ageing parent (or several, including the in-laws). My own mother is now in a care home with multiple health conditions – including memory loss. My father has his own issues. Indeed, over the last 2 years, it feels as though my parents have taken up more time, worry and attention than my own 2 youngsters (now aged 21 and 17)! With everything going on in our lives, when it comes to menopause, many women simply don’t have the time or energy left over to take care of themselves physically.
Instead, we can take the opportunity to take a step back from our busy lives and review what our vision is for our future.
Have a think for a moment – what do you want to have achieved when you reach the other end of your life, in 40 years or so?
How would you like to spend a week with like-minded women learning natural ways to manage menopause, reflecting and planning, in a mutually supportive, nurturing environment? My Joyful Sexy Menopause Retreats might just be what you are looking for!
Why Stress Reduction?
Reducing stress, and improving your response to stress, may:
- Reduce the chances of undergoing early menopause.
- Help with sleeping issues.
- Assist with managing anxious moments and/or panic attacks.
- Reduce the frequency of memory loss and brain fog.
- Reduces the possibility of heart palpitation symptoms.
- Reduce the need for hormone therapy.
- Increase the likelihood of an overall reduction in severity of all menopausal symptoms.
Women are probably more familiar with the concept that intense stress can lead to missed menstrual periods — they would be shocked to learn that heavy amounts of stress might also actually lead to early menopause. Although there is not enough data to say that stress alone can bring on early menopause, stress, along with smoking, poor diet and heavy drinking does seem to play a role in bringing on early menopause. In addition, it’s no secret that, along with menopause, comes sleeping challenges. Many women will experience night sweats and/or experience sensitivity to temperature changes during the night and even during the day. If stress is an issue, it only adds to these problems.
Menopausal symptoms can include anxious moments and/or panic attacks. Heavy stress often plays a significant role in these types of issues as well. Some women will also experience short-term memory issues, which we may shrug of humourously as “senior moments” as a symptom of menopause. Adding stress to the mix just increases the likelihood of these types of experiences. Heart palpitations are a common symptom of both menopause and stress. Increased stress levels only leads to the potential for more bothersome palpitations.
In general, intense stress leads to virtually all menopausal symptoms to increase in their intensity, leading one to feel they need help from prescription hormones. However, some of the traditional prescription hormones to relieve bothersome symptoms have questionable side effects.
Stress Relieving Techniques
Fortunately, menopause is truly a phase of life and does not last forever. Women who are struggling more than others during this phase, need to consider whether the level of stress in their lives could be a significant factor in the variety and intensity of their menopausal symptoms. For those women who suspect that stress is an issue, they need to understand that just like pregnancy, they might need a little TLC throughout their menopausal years. It is time to get help with household chores, running errands and taking care of elderly parents – tim efor teenagers & youngsters as well as partners and friends to step in. If possible, some women might consider switching to part-time work or downsizing to ease their stress burden, while others will start to delegate more effectively. Of course, eating properly, getting regular exercise and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption and smoking will help as well. By making a few thoughtful changes to one’s lifestyle, women can reduce their stress levels, which in turn will help them get through menopause a little easier.
Questions about before, during or after menopause? Contact us.