Managing Stress at Menopause Before It Manages You! PDF Print
Thursday, 30 November 2006 12:31
Article Index
0.1. Types of Stress
0.2. Coping with Stress

Do you feel like menopause is causing you to be frustrated, overwhelmed, nervous, sad, anxious, panicky, shaky or crazy? Do you feel like pulling your hair out and can’t even deal with the slightest amount of stress? Before your emotional rollercoaster ride becomes out of control, take a few deep breaths and read this section to gain a little perspective.

You're not going crazy. The physiological, psychological and social changes that may be experienced at menopause are extremely stressful.

0.1. Types of Stress

There may be many other changes going on in your life besides the hormonal ones. The life you have worked so hard at achieving is now changing. The kids are growing up. They may be going off to college or leaving home. You may be thinking about retirement or changing careers. Your husband is going through a midlife crisis. Divorce rates are rising. Any combination of these factors can contribute to your stress.

Stress is simply the body's reaction to a challenge or threat. It is a term that is used to describe hundreds of problems in our lives. The term represents problems or conflicts that are painful or troubling to us. The causes of stress can be short-term or long-term and can arise for a variety of reasons. Everyone has stress but there are ways to prevent or subside it.

Unfortunately, stress can contribute to many health problems. For some people, it can cause cardiovascular disease, increase blood pressure, increase cholesterol and other cardiac risk factors.

When you feel stressed, your body is flooded with chemicals called "stress hormones" such as adrenaline or epinephrine that may cause your heart to start beating faster; muscles become tense; and breathing becomes rapid.

There may also be an increase in perspiration. Another hormone called cortisol is also increased as a normal coping mechanism by your body to respond to stress. Over an extended period of stress, these stress hormones that are initially protective, can become detrimental, wearing out your body, mind and spirit.

There are different coping strategies which may help restore a sense of well-being and reduce stress, but the main source of our problems may linger. Many times, comprehending the root of stress requires a certain amount of self-awareness and self-empowerment in order to prevent them from constantly reoccurring.

0.2. Coping with Stress

Physiological Stress

  • Keep a journal of your menopausal symptoms and share it with your healthcare provider. Menopause can mimic the symptoms of chronic stress (and of course it is a stress itself).
  • Communicate with your healthcare provider about menopause, both your physical and emotional concerns. Do not forget to communicate with all of your healthcare providers that you are becoming menopausal and update them about any new treatment taken.
  • Educate yourself about the effects of hormonal changes in your body.
  • Talk with your partner and family members openly about what is happening to you.
  • Develop a plan to manage the physiological changes you are experiencing.
  • Be pro-active when it comes to hot flashes and night sweats. Dress in layers. Keep the temperature cool in your room when sleeping.
  • Identify foods that commonly trigger hot flashes like alcohol, spicy foods, caffeine, chocolate and foods high in fat.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Take care of your bladder. Drink lots of water. Avoid bladder infections, which may occur more frequently after menopause, by urinating as soon as you feel the need.
  • Exercise┬áregularly as it will help your mood and sleep. Yoga can improve your balance, alertness, and keep you limber while reducing your stress.
  • Take care and treat chronic ailments: hypertension, arthritis, etc.

Psychological Stress

  • Some women become stressed over the loss of fertility that occurs at menopause. This is often compounded when their older children leave home. Added to this, may be burdensome responsibilities in caring for sick parents. Financial problems may also be present.
  • Physiological changes may affect your sex life. Make more time for your sex life and be creative - lingerie, champagne, experiment with lubricants and moisturizers.

Social Stress

  • Explore ways in which you can obtain positive self feelings. Develop hobbies and interests, make new friends, and/or return to the workforce.
  • If you are a caretaker, don't take on the burden alone. Discuss with your partner and family members ways they can help out to reduce your stress.
  • Plan for your retirement. Women live on the average of 7 years longer than men. Early, thoughtful planning can be empowering and make you feel less anxious.

Develop a Stress Reduction Plan

  • Identify why you are feeling stressed. Keep a journal logging in when and why you feel stressed. Read it after several weeks to see what triggers your stress reactions.
  • Try to avoid the stressor by removing yourself from the situation. It's better to recognize your limitations and walk away or learn to delegate.
  • Modify your behavior. Physical activity helps reduce stress levels.
  • Watch your diet. You can tolerate stress better when you eat right.
  • Meditate and take time out for yourself. Listen to peaceful, quiet music, and/or have a massage to relieve tight muscles, and try relaxation techniques.
  • Communicate with your loved ones.
  • Get professional help.
Last Updated on Friday, 28 October 2011 14:12