Don’t Let Stress Worsen Your Menopause Symptoms
It’s no secret that stress seeks to invade every aspect of our lives. The busyness of work, home life and social obligations can accumulate into serious emotional, mental, and physical health conditions and issues. The World Heart Organization reports increased risk of heart damage and disease when stress in inadequately managed. Other reports show increased risk for strokes, diabetes, hypertension, and other serious neurological disorders. While the link between stress and health condition such as these are fairly common knowledge, many women don’t realize stress’ negative effects on their reproductive health, particularly before and during menopause. New studies are coming out with conclusive data on why stress worsens menopause symptoms.
Adrenaline and Cortisol are two useful hormones produced by the adrenal glands. At healthy levels, these two chemicals allow us to feel focused, excited, and alert throughout the day. When in danger or under stress, the adrenal glands go into overtime and produce an abundance of these chemicals, causing the “flight or fight” response as our mind and body responds to threats. In normal situations, Cortisol and Adrenaline are useful and necessary to keep us safe and functioning. However, when these chemicals are constantly over-produced and kept lingering within our systems, the negative effects of stress begin to surface. Signs of chronically high levels of cortisol sometimes include:
- Sleep disturbances (fatigue, insomnia, nightmares, low energy)
- Chronic anxiety and emotional disturbances
- Weight gain
- Excessive food cravings
- Digestion complaints and issues (stomach upset, bloating, and diarrhoea)
- Frequent colds and other flu-like symptoms
- Low sex-drive
As a whole, the body is very adept to handling cortisol and adrenaline surpluses. The body’s defenses seek ways to eliminate the chemical highs and restore balance. This is accomplished by way of a “safety buffer” of the female hormones progesterone and oestrogen. These chemicals protect the body against the harmful effects of over-productive adrenal glands.
The Menopause Impasse
Although the body is very skilled at handling stress and adrenal overproduction, this ability radically changes as a women approaches and eventually endures the menopausal stage of life. The protective buffer of progesterone and oestrogen begins to diminish with the on-set of menopause, allowing high levels of cortisone to pervade. Ironically, many of the symptoms of high cortisone and adrenaline are also considered common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. The reduced amount of progesterone is further diminished by the high cortisol levels that attack it. The loss of these vital female hormones greatly intensifies the already miserable symptoms of menopause.
The fact that stress so badly affects our body at such a vulnerable stage is stressful in and of itself. It can be difficult to know where to turn to begin alleviating stress and restoring the delicate hormonal balance within our body. Fortunately, many natural methods exist to help replace depleted progesterone and oestrogen as well as eliminate toxic levels of cortisol and adrenaline.
- Managing your blood sugar
Diet plays a huge role concerning cortisol levels and general well-being. Research on substances such as sugar and caffeine reveal the marked increase in cortisol levels they produce. If our stress is already high, consuming substances such as these will only make matters worse and exponentially worsen our symptoms. Work towards a balanced diet high in natural foods and low in processed, sugar-laden ones. Seek foods that are high in protein to help your body buffer against the negative effects of menopause. These foods will also help you stay full longer and can diminish weight-gain.
Exercise doesn’t just improve physical health but also emotional and mental health. Activities that work the cardiovascular system are well-known for the “feel-good” endorphines released during exercise. Something as simple as taking a walk or performing several laps in a pool can radically improve your health and regulate stress. A recent survey among adults revealed that approximately 62% reported notable decreases in their stress following exercise. A further 43% went on to state that they exercised specifically to help manage their stress levels. A decrease in stress allows for more hormonal balance and diminished menopausal symptoms. Walking, light jogging, biking, and swimming are known examples of exercise that help diminish menopause’s negative symptoms.
- Mental Exercise
Exercises that are too intense may do more harm than good. Balance out your routine with gentle stretching and Yoga or Pilates routines. These exercises not only strengthen and relax your body, but provide valuable mental relaxation as well. Relaxation techniques in particular are known for reducing chronic hot flashes. Relaxation and mindfulness therapies allow women to see improvement in sleep, anxiety, and stress levels–all issues associated with menopausal symptoms.
Perimenopause and menopause are challenging stages in a woman’s life. These difficulties are only exacerbated with chronic stress. However, when it comes to stress reduction and mental and physical well-being, these natural solutions greatly diminish the discomfort of menopausal symptoms. For more information on successfully combating and managing your symptoms, please contact us today.