You most likely realise that menopause affects your hormone levels, but did you know that stress does too?
Fluctuating hormones can cause stress, which can, in turn, make hormones fluctuate even more – it’s a vicious cycle!
Here are four ways that stress can impact and worsen your menopause symptoms
Stress can worsen your mood swings
Mood swings are one of the most common and severe side effects of menopause. Many women report feeling like they are unable to control their reactions to everyday situations, which can cause stress. That stress can then trigger worsening mood swings.
The Fix – Breathe. Sure, this might sound trite, but deep, measured breathing can help calm down the most extreme mood swings and bring you back down to earth. Practising simple mindfulness and awareness of breath improves mood swings for most women. Check out these mindfulness and breathing apps!
Stress makes hot flushes more extreme
Nothing feels worse than being overheated, and women in menopause go through it all the time! Hot flushes are caused by chemicals such as histamines or adrenaline, which get released in big bursts when you are at your most stressed.
The Fix – Exercise can really help with hot flushes. I know – it seems counterintuitive to get hot and sweaty if you’re trying to avoid getting hot and sweaty! But exercise regulates your hormones and reduce stress levels – swimming, walking, and yoga can all help.
Stress can trigger food cravings and cause weight gain
Many women gain weight during the menopause, which causes stress. Of course, stress itself can cause us to crave unhealthy foods and alcoholic beverages, which can also make you gain weight. Now you’re getting it from both sides.
The Fix – Get started on a healthy eating plan and rally a support network to support you in healthy choices. Get off of that stress eating vicious cycle and take control of your eating – it certainly isn’t always easy to stay motivated, so make sure you have a reliable support system to help you on your way.
Stress can make a good night’s sleep a seemingly impossible goal
We’ve all been there – lying awake, too stressed to sleep. Menopause itself also disrupts sleep, as lower oestrogen levels make restful sleep more difficult to achieve. And then, even if you do get to sleep, staying asleep can be even more challenging. A lack of good quality sleep will negatively impact all other aspects of your life, thus resulting in more stress. There’s that vicious cycle again…
The Fix – Get your worries off your chest. While talking or writing about your worries and problems can’t fix your lowered oestrogen levels, it can reduce your stress levels, which will improve your overall hormonal balance. Even if you don’t feel like speaking to a friend or counsellor about your stressors, merely writing them down can be the relief that you need.
Every woman experiences the menopause in different ways. Following these tips will hopefully reduce your stress and boost your overall resilience, improving your menopause symptoms and breaking that vicious cycle