For many women, menopause can be an extremely stressful time. Coping with the effects of hormonal changes as well as other menopausal symptoms such as lack of sleep, can result in anxiety and depression.
Add to this the fact that menopause is often accompanied by other lifestyle changes, such as empty nest syndrome or caring for elderly parents, and it’s not surprising many women find their symptoms worsened by additional external stress.
In a six-year study published in Menopause (the Journal of the North American Menopause Society), stress and anxiety were strongly linked to hot flushes. We’ve also explained the link between menopause and stress in more detail in this blog post.
Whilst we may not always be able to control stress, there are things we can do to manage it. Here are some tips:
Accept that there are things in life that you cannot control
Be kind to yourself. Keep a positive attitude and avoid feeling guilty or ashamed if you can’t or don’t feel like doing something you used to do with ease. Remember, your body is going through an important transition, putting yourself first at a time like this is not selfish; it’s the most important thing you can do.
When you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed do something to break the mood: take a walk, go for a cycle ride, go shopping, phone a friend, visit a neighbour, or treat yourself to a massage. Or just take some time out to make a cup of tea, read a few pages from a book or magazine, listen to a meditation recording, or simply sit quietly and reflect.
Exercise regularly—your body fights stress better when it is fit. Exercise is the most underutilised method of fighting depression. It can be a vicious circle, no-one feels like exercising on a regular basis when they are depressed. However doing so can slowly help you overcome it. Not only this, but exercise also helps with a number of other menopause symptoms, read our recent blog post to find out how.
Eat healthy, well-balanced meals. You should make sure you are eating well during the menopause anyway, here are some foods that can help with menopause symptoms.
Avoid alcohol, smoking and recreational drugs.
Take a nap. If you’re not sleeping well at night, try taking a little nap during the afternoon.
Smile! Yes, we know it can feel a little odd to force a smile when you’re not feeling happy. But try it for just a few moments and we guarantee you’ll soon be feeling a lot calmer and happier. That’s because your brain doesn’t know the difference between a real smile and a false smile and releases the same “feel good’ neurochemicals either way. It’s also true that laughter really does help you through menopause.