6 things you can do to deal with stress in menopause.
Stress, usually a short-lived experience, is your body’s reaction to an external event. When you feel stressed, your body is flooded with cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’ responsible for that ‘fight or flight’ response. Make no bones about it, menopause and the multitude of challenges that it throws at you, counts as a stressful event! You can take steps to help manage your response. Don’t let the stress devil bring you down.
Prior to peri-menopause oestrogen helps to control cortisol levels. When menopause strikes, oestrogen levels fluctuate wildly, leading to increased levels of cortisol meaning you’ll feel more stressed. Research shows that women often feel stressed or anxious just before a hot flush, so getting on top of stress may lead to fewer hot flushes!
Increased cortisol levels can cause heart disease, weight gain, raise blood pressure, impact on bone density and affect cognitive function. Endlessly feeling stressed may trigger anxiety disorders that can affect everyday life as the feeling of excessive and persistent worrying dominates your life.
What can you do to manage stress? There are degrees of stress and you’ll know where you are on the stress scale. For some, it’s going to involve more of a systematic and wholesale approach, but for others, just making small tweaks to lifestyle may pay off.
Phone a friend.
Find a friend that you can talk to about your stresses. Sharing worries and feelings can help to relieve some of your stresses and tensions. As the old adage goes, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.
Get your heart pumping!
Aerobic exercise helps to deal with stress by increasing heart rate and increasing oxygen circulation. Running, spinning, hiking, swimming and rowing are great aerobic workouts.
Keeping your hands busy, keeps your mind busy thus stopping it responding to stressful thoughts. Spend time doing something you enjoy: cooking, baking, knitting, sewing, DIY, whatever it is, enjoy!
Stretching relieves stress.
Stretching alleviates the muscle tension that accumulates with stress, as well as working on the nervous system to reduce the production of stress hormones. We couldn’t talk about beating stress without mentioning yoga, which combines mental focus, stretching and movement to make it a fabulous stress-reliever.
Go for a brisk walk.
Two reasons! Fast walking, a cardio-vascular exercise, releases the ‘good’ endorphins that trigger a positive reaction in the body. Secondly, Sspending time outdoors reduces stress. The greener the better. People who live in greener spaces have less cortisol, so even if it’s just your local park, take yourself out for a brisk 30-minute walk. Research shows it may have an impact on improving memory and attention span. Even better!
Talk to your GP.
Nip menopause stress in the bud. See what your doctor advises for you, based on your health history. You have options, don’t feel that you have to ‘put up with it’. If your doctor tells you that you need to get on with it, be assertive and ask to see another doctor.