Menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life, marking the end of her reproductive years. While it signifies a significant milestone, the transition can bring various physical, emotional, and psychological changes. One common aspect that women experience during menopause is stress. Menopause-related stress can arise from hormonal fluctuations, physical symptoms, societal expectations, and personal challenges. We explore the causes and effects of menopause stress and provide practical strategies for managing it effectively.
Understanding Menopause Stress
Menopause is accompanied by a decline in estrogen and progesterone levels, which can disrupt the delicate hormonal balance in a woman’s body. These hormonal fluctuations can lead to physical symptoms such as insomnia, night sweats, hot flashes, fatigue, and weight gain. These symptoms, coupled with the awareness of aging and changes in body image, can contribute to heightened stress levels.
Menopause coincides with various life events, such as children leaving home, caring for aging parents, or career transitions, which can further exacerbate stress. Furthermore, cultural and societal expectations regarding femininity, youthfulness, and productivity can create additional pressure on women going through menopause.
Effects of Menopause Stress
Menopause stress can profoundly impact a woman’s physical and emotional well-being. Persistent stress can lead to a range of health problems, including an increased risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and cognitive decline. Moreover, the hormonal imbalances associated with menopause can contribute to mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and depression.
Chronic stress can also disrupt sleep patterns, impair concentration and memory, and diminish overall quality of life. Additionally, it can strain relationships with family, friends, and colleagues, as the emotional rollercoaster of menopause can affect interpersonal interactions. Recognizing the effects of menopause stress is crucial to take proactive measures to manage and alleviate it.
Strategies for Managing Menopause Stress
- Seek Support: Sharing experiences with other women going through menopause can provide a sense of validation and understanding. Joining support groups, whether in-person or online, can create a supportive network where women can exchange tips, advice, and emotional support.
- Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep are fundamental in managing menopause stress. Physical activities like yoga, meditation, or tai chi can support lower stress levels and promote relaxation. A nutritious diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins can support overall well-being. Prioritizing adequate sleep is essential for maintaining hormonal balance and promoting emotional resilience.
- Practice Stress Reduction Techniques: Employ techniques like deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation. These practices can help calm the mind, reduce anxiety, and promote inner peace. Engaging in hobbies, creative pursuits, or listening to calming music can also serve as effective stress management techniques.
- Communicate and Educate: Discussing menopause with loved ones, friends, and colleagues can foster understanding and support. Educate those around you about menopause, its impact, and the potential stress it can generate. Encouraging open conversations can create a supportive environment and minimize any potential stigma associated with menopause.
- Consult a Healthcare Professional: If menopause symptoms and stress overwhelm you, seeking professional help is crucial. A healthcare provider can assess the individual’s needs and offer tailored treatment options, including hormone replacement therapy, counseling, or alternative therapies.
Menopause is a natural stage in a woman’s life but can also be accompanied by significant stress. Understanding the causes and effects of menopause stress is vital for managing its impact on physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. By adopting a holistic approach that combines self-care, support networks, stress reduction techniques, and professional guidance, women can navigate the menopausal journey with resilience and empower themselves to embrace this transformative phase with grace and confidence.
Here we discuss this with Monigho Griffin, a menopause coach, to get her thoughts on this topic.
Self Diagnosis in Perimenopause
NourishDoc: Your personal story while going through peri-menopause
Menopause Coach Monigho: I self-diagnosed with dementia and started worrying about my life choices. I wasn’t sleeping. As the need to audit explained, I decided I wanted to be the support I needed to inform and educate women to prepare for perimenopause. Menopause is all about our hormones.
We must have the symptoms because the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, what they refer to us as sex hormones, are declining. And so when they are in decline, like a seesaw, they’re in decline, which means the other hormones like cortisol goes up. And as we know, cortisol is a stress hormone. Now, so we lose this balance because of the decline of hormones. So that is what is physically happening in our body. We need coping mechanisms to react to stress so that we’re not getting ourselves stressed over something that is not a reality.
Stress Relief Tools
NourishDoc: What tools do you recommend to de-stress
Menopause Coach Monigho: Inflammation and education help because we know what we deal with. We have to be kinder to ourselves, too, not to, and, like this negative self-talk, I stopped being I need to be perfect in everything. I started saying that, if it’s good enough, you know, to do things to a good enough standard. Looking at life after perimenopause post menopause was also encouraging. What helped me with that is when I’m feeling a bit low, to minimize the stress, as Sue said, was to look at all the thank you to have like a record a file of all like, thank you cards, or, you know, our head of product business and appreciate ourselves.
NourishDoc: Tips for women to avoid stress and not be harsh on them
Menopause Coach Monigho: Okay, so what I would give would be lifestyle changes. So, for example, you know, are you a snacker because, like, like sugar, when, when we’re stressed, our sugar levels drop. So, healthy eating will help prevent us from feeling stressed and not, you know, like nobody. So just, rather than a snack, eat, like fruit and vegetables, like just something healthy.
Also, do an activity that makes you happy. Sometimes we’re going through perimenopause, you just want to leave, you know, you just want to be you’re on your own but just remember the sort of things that you should do that made you happy and try and do that, just ensure that you have sufficient sleep. Find somebody you can talk to because, as they say, a shared problem is a problem. Even if you can’t explain what is going on in your body because of menopause, just explaining how you feel will help to relieve stress.
What exactly is Perimenopause?
NourishDoc: Talk to us about what exactly it is Perimenopause.
Menopause coach Monigho: Menopause is the end of periods. Now, in the UK, the average age of menopause is 54. However, perimenopause starts, on average, at 45. And they start with irregular periods, hot flashes, night sweats, low mood, thinning hair, loneliness, heart palpitations, and 34 different symptoms. So all of these symptoms can happen. They can last until ten years; as I said, it’s like 45, but the average age is 45. And these are all the different symptoms we’d go through due to the decline of estrogen and progesterone.
So in the body, we know hormones are very powerful. If you’ve got teenagers, remember your own, what it felt to be a teenager, how it felt going through the hormones going through puberty rather than so that is, so perimenopause is all the different symptoms that we normally associate with menopause. So what I like to say is that paradigm of perimenopause is the journey to menopause, and menopause is a destination.