As women approach their mid-40s, various symptoms begin to show. These symptoms are mostly due to the hormonal adjustments in the woman’s system. This period of change, evident from the mid-forties to the late fifties, is called menopause.
Most women find it difficult to cope with the life changes that menopause brings. One of the popular effects of menopause is stress. Normally, a lady is prone to stress even before menopause. You can imagine its effect during menopause.
The reduced hormone and increased cortisol levels are a great inducement of stress. But more than that, other natural factors like family feuds, responsibilities, careers, health, and even the idea of coping with other menopausal symptoms like low sex drive can also be stressful.
The feeling of anxiety and depression is very common amongst stressed individuals, even those in menopause, and so many character changes are noticed.
Stress triggers responses from the body, ranging from emotional to physical and sometimes psychological changes. These changes affect every aspect of our lives, often negatively.
Due to stress, we could begin to perceive things awkwardly, get angry easily, and sometimes if not handled properly, we could ruin our relationships with our loved ones. Stress can also cause physical responses like excessive sweating, increased heart rate called tachycardia, diarrhea, etc.
All the symptoms mentioned above will make life more difficult and stressful, hence the need to tackle stress. So many women indulge in unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking, and using hard drugs to relieve stress.
These drugs might provide temporary relief, but most times, the stress comes back even more, and your health is greatly risked.
Here we will talk about the healthy methods with which you can curtail stress.
Why Does Stress Build Up In Menopause?
The issue of stress is not limited to menopausal women as individuals of all ages and sex can be stressed, depending on their lifestyle, occupation, and many other factors.
However, it has been reported that women undergoing menopause have recorded higher stress-related cases. It’s no coincidence because experiments were conducted, and based on the results, the following factors lead to the build-up of stress in menopausal women.
- Hormonal imbalance:
As women grow older, their levels of hormones begin to fluctuate. These fluctuations affect the normal functions of the brain relating to stress. One of the most common symptoms of hormonal imbalance is anxiety and stress.
Although men and women are prone to stress, studies have shown that a woman’s stress is most likely due to hormonal reasons. That is because hormonal changes have been known to affect a woman’s mental stability and coordination.
When discussing hormonal stress, estrogen is the first hormone that comes to mind. It is not far-fetched because estrogen is a major hormone that fluctuates before a woman’s menstrual cycle.
As menstruation ceases, estrogen level drops greatly, leading to many symptoms that can induce stress. Other sex hormones like progesterone and testosterone also cause stress for women, but it doesn’t end here; other hormones are involved in stress for menopausal women.
When triggered by menopausal symptoms like amnesia, stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline lead to a flight or fight response that triggers stress. Oxytocin and thyroid hormones also have a part to play in a menopausal woman’s stress.
- Menopausal symptoms can induce stress.
Typically, menopause is a challenging period for any woman. Ranging from the addition of weight to sleeplessness and sick feelings, most women do not find it easy.
Normally, even without hormone-induced stress, these menopausal symptoms can be a handful to handle, and most of them induce stress themselves.
For instance, a woman having sleep issues will be unable to rest. This restlessness is mostly due to the accumulated cortisol produced by your body when you’re awake. It gives you excess energy and a hyperactive sense that you cannot act on, resulting in stress.
Insomnia causes stress in more than one way. While awake, your mind is very active, leading to emotional stress. Some people might even act on their hyperactivity and excess energy by indulging in certain chores, which causes physical stress.
Other symptoms like obesity can also induce stress due to the increased cortisol level or the psychological depression obese women face due to discrimination. Women with low sex drives and issues of vaginal dryness also face emotional stress due to fallouts in their relationships and the inability to satisfy their pleasure.
The list goes on and on, and when you think critically, you’d realize that menopausal women go through a lot. If it makes you feel any better, this article is written to help you get a stress-free life, even in menopause.
How Can I Deal With This Menopausal Stress?
Over the years, many women have spoken out about the intense stress they face during menopause. Some of them have tried certain measures, but their implementations were wrong. Others tried the wrong methods, like using cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs like opiates and cocaine.
Most of the time time, they end up with worse stress issues. Some of them even accumulate other issues that they didn’t have prior. Nevertheless, bad orientation and lack of access to proper information are why most people end up in the gutter due to stress.
As a woman undergoing menopause, there are several effective stress-relieving methods that you should practice. These methods might work differently for different people; sometimes, the effect is not as rapid as you envisage. It is highly recommended that you follow them because they are safe and effective.
And even though your symptoms may decline gradually, over time, with consistency, be sure to return to your normal self. Below are some stress-relieving methods for menopausal women.
Yoga is a pseudo-exercise technique that is more intricate than the normal calorie-burning styles we are used to. This technique has recently gained ground and recommendations based on its effectiveness today.
Yoga helps you coordinate your mind and body, giving you the emotional balance and coordination you require. While there are different yoga techniques, the main objective of yoga is to stimulate your mind with your body, creating a sense of awareness and inner strength that helps drive out anxiety and depression.
You’d be asked to perform certain body movements with some meditation stance and gaze in your yoga class. Your physical body will balance on various platforms as your mind is directed towards peace and a form of concentration.
Research has shown that yoga promotes psychological well-being and emotional balance. Yoga routines greatly benefit your nervous system, reducing any adverse response to stress. You can successfully reduce your sugar level, blood pressure, and heart rate with yoga. All of which can cause stress. Yoga is very safe and has been said to lower stress hormone levels too.
- Deep breathing exercises
Mental stress is often linked to the sympathetic nervous system. During mental stress, your nervous system is triggered to produce a flight or fight response. This response is what causes depression and anxiety most times. Also, your heart rate increases as well as your breathing. Vessel constriction might also occur, leading to vast mental instability.
Deep breathing exercises are very suitable for these kinds of cases. It helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to undo the effect of the sympathetic nervous system leading to a relaxation response.
Some deep breathing exercises that might help menopausal women are deep belly breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, and deep abdominal breathing. The main aim of a deep breathing exercise is to consciously reduce your breath to focus your awareness.
This exercise helps to slow the rate of heartbeat, thereby reducing stress. By impeding physical stress symptoms, deep breathing helps to induce a relaxation response in the body, thereby relieving stress.
- Adopting a healthy nutrition
A good diet’s effect on a person’s normal function cannot be overemphasized. A healthy nutritional diet improves every aspect of a person’s anatomy, from physical to mental health. Stress is no different; we can improve our stress symptoms by adopting a lifestyle of healthy nutrition.
Canned and processed foods, as well as high-sugar diets, have been known to cause a higher induced level of stress. That is because of the number of calories contained in these diets.
Stress leads to depression; depression leads to anger, and anger feeds on energy. This energy is gotten from the excess calories, which triggers the release of more stress hormones. This cycle continues leading to prolonged stress, all due to eating the wrong diet.
Also, certain nutrients and vitamin deficiencies can impede stress and mood regulation. For instance, vitamin B helps in reducing stress, but when absent in a person’s body, this regulation is impossible, hence causing prolonged stress.
We should restrict the number of calories and pre-processed foods we consume. We should also take enough fruits and vegetables. Ensure you see your nutritionist for a more comprehensive nutritional timetable.
- Screen time, as well as the use of gadgets, should be minimized.
One of the key causes of stress in menopausal women is insomnia. Although there are various causes of insomnia during menopause, the amount of time we spend on our screens is a key factor. It is not just applicable to menopausal women but to everyone.
The more time you spend with your computers, smartphones, and tablets, the more your eyes are exposed to the UV rays from the screen of these gadgets. These rays impede the release of the sleep hormone melatonin, which causes sleeplessness or insomnia in advanced cases.
The link between insomnia and stress is not new, so the person becomes overstretched. So many people have had mental illnesses from the restlessness associated with screen time and insomnia.
It is advisable that you use your gadgets during the day and that you do not spend too much time on them. That is because, aside from insomnia, excess screen time is addictive and can lead to mental stress too. If you are already addicted, you could seek therapy for a better exit strategy.
- Use of supplements
Sometimes, the nutrients from our diets might not be enough to reduce the intensity of stress we feel. Well, you could try the use of supplements. Sometimes, our stress is due to deficiencies in certain vitamins or minerals.
Using supplements in cases like that will help you cope with the stress better or even improve your mood, depending on the supplement. An example is the case of magnesium depletion. During intense stress, magnesium levels are greatly reduced. Taking a magnesium supplement would be of great advantage in instances like this.
You don’t necessarily have to wait for stress before you begin to take supplements. As prescribed and directed by your doctor, ensure you take the necessary body supplements for stress.
You should be very cautious, as supplements might not suit everyone. Some people might even have allergic reactions to certain supplements. That is why we recommend that you see your doctor first and only take supplements prescribed by them in the right dosage.
- Lessen your intake of caffeine.
So many people today are fans of caffeine; some might even be considered addicts. Some take it because they like it, some as depressants, and some because they are addicted. Your excess caffeine intake might be why you’ve always been restless.
Caffeine is found in coffee, energy drinks, chocolate, etc. This chemical affects the central nervous system, which induces stress.
Although caffeine consumption is not bad, it must be moderated to a bare minimum, especially for menopausal women. An excess caffeine intake might lead to stress.
Also, caffeine is a known sleep blocker. So many workers take coffee and other caffeine-containing substances to help them prevent sleep in the bid to work overnight. This practice is costly, though, as sleeplessness could induce mental stress. Accumulated sleep debt can cause anxiety and grave mental illness.
Although people have different body sensitivity and caffeine tolerance, women with stress issues, especially menopausal women, should cut down or stop their intake of caffeine-containing substances completely.
- Create a personal space and have boundaries.
One of the leading causes of stress during menopause is the enormous nature of activities and commitments. Sometimes, it is not the hormonal symptom or duet you consume that induces stress; it is the people around you. On this note, you should create an unreachable personal space and map out your boundaries.
That doesn’t mean you’d not be responsible to anyone, no! It means you’d have time time to yourself where you can sit down to calm your nerves. To do this, you must learn to say no when it affects you personally.
So many women have broken down emotionally during menopause because they do too much. You should always remember that a woman’s stress levels are heightened during menopause, and as such, her emotional commitments and obligations should reduce too.
Like declining an invitation that doesn’t suit you or refusing to attend a best friend’s party because you’re stressed out should be done with ease. It is commitments like this that accumulate into long-term stress.
- Do your work on time and avoid procrastination.
Stress can be mental, emotional, or physical, and there is no greater mental stress than having unfinished work or obligation. One way to completely reduce stress is to set priorities and always do your work on time.
Most women in menopause are the centre of their family activities. There are a lot of things to be done daily. Procrastination strikes negatively in two ways.
First, you would not be at peace knowing that you have an unfinished task. This factor causes mental stress. Secondly, when you begin to attend to this work, whatever it may be, you’d have limited time to meet up. It will make you anxious or scared, depending on how important the work outcome is, leading to emotional stress since you have limited time.
A to-do list or a timetable might help your procrastination issues. Also, do not be ashamed to see a counselor, and try to do your work. It will reduce the fear that comes with very large tasks. If the fear of work is reduced, work is done on time.
- Meditate in your quiet time and practice mindfulness.
So many women in menopause do not have quiet times, which is very wrong. Everyone should have a quiet time to themselves. A period where it is just you and your dangling thoughts. One of the things we can do in our quiet time to relieve stress is meditation.
According to studies, frequent meditation, even for a short time, helps to relax the mind and soul. It helps to set your mind at peace. The good thing about meditation is that as well as it helps cure stress, it also prevents stress. So, you don’t have to be stressed before you meditate.
Mindfulness stress reduction techniques like cognitive therapies can also help to stabilize thoughts and mental coordination. You could see your therapist or psychologist get the best meditative methods for yourself.
- Cuddling can help relieve stress.
Many women become distant from their husbands when they approach menopause, which should not be so. Because of the reduced sexual urge, some couples stop having sex or any intimacy at all. However, this is the time in a woman’s life when cuddling and sexual intercourse is mostly important.
Touch sensation helps the human mind to be calmer, creating an atmosphere of safety and relaxation. It’s mostly evident amongst couples during sex.
Even if the sex is cut down, cuddling should be a must as it is a very efficient stress reliever. Human touch may have a calming effect and help you better cope with stress.
These contacts help to lower cortisol by releasing oxytocin, thereby curing any form of loneliness or depression. Cuddling helps lower heart rate and reduce blood pressure, so if you’re in menopause and don’t have any form of sexual intimacy, you’re wrong.
- Exercise and other physical activities.
The constant movement of the body may facilitate proper blood flow to the brain, relieving one of certain stressful conditions. Exercises help to burn calories, and sometimes, cortisol levels are decreased too, as well as many other physiological changes in the body, which helps to reduce stress internally.
Most of these exercise activities are fun and engaging, so apart from the physical aspect, they help to calm the mind down by directing your focus from the problem that causes stress. Mentally, exercise helps to cleanse the mind, body, and soul, thereby creating a generous relief.
Making exercise a part of your daily routine, whether you are stressed or not, is very important. It’s because it helps to prevent stress too. Based on recent studies, regular exercise is said to help people with mental illness.
There is a wide variety of exercise routines that you can adopt based on your physical appearance, endurance, and general ability. It doesn’t have to be a strenuous process. Gentle activities like casual biking, and brisk walking, can help calm stress.
- Seek help from the right people.
Stress during menopause is not only caused by menopausal symptoms. The demanding nature of a woman’s life before menopause also affects her peace sometimes. And so, even without hormonal changes, she might still be stressed.
One of the main reasons people dwell in their stress and depression is because they have no one to help them. It is advisable to always seek help when you are stressed.
You could seek help in the form of advice from a friend or loved one in cases of emotional stress. Also, if you’re stressed from work and obligations, you can ask your friends and family to help you before you break down.
If you are shy or do not have a close friend or someone you can trust, you can seek the services of a therapist or psychologist. Either way, ensure you have someone you can freely talk to, and be sure to greatly reduce your stress.
- You should try to work less too.
One of the reasons mature women have stressed, aside from their menopausal symptoms, is taking multiple jobs and working harder than they should. Many single mums work multiple jobs to ensure their families can survive; some married women still have to work very hard to ensure their families’ financial stability.
Although you cannot be asked to stop working, you should try to minimize your energy and work less. Working very hard when you are younger and working less when you approach menopause is advisable. That is because any form of stress is heightened in menopause.
Planning your life effectively and starting a business that ensures you work, such as learning digital or online marketing, will help. Also, if you must take those multiple shifts, ensure you comply with other relaxation techniques. It would not prevent stress totally, but it would help.
- Go on vacations and spend time with family.
Most emotional stress stays longer than it should because the person cannot take his mind off the cause of the stress. However, vacations and spending time with loved ones can help take your mind off stressful situations.
Shutting yourself from the world is a great way to induce emotional stress. Although some of us might be phlegmatic or melancholic, we should still try to go out sometimes.
Seeing another person or spending quality time with loved ones also helps to release oxytocin which releases stress. If your family is far away or you don’t have any friends where you are, you can join social clubs and societies.
You can volunteer for outreach programs and community services. These events help you meet and relate with new people, relieving stress and clearing your head.
- Get a professional masseuse.
Massage is a great technique similar to yoga in action. The gentle touches and realignment help lower heart rates, reducing stress. Also, a good massage will help in muscle relaxation and the release of endorphins. So, when you’re stressed for whatever reason, just get a professional masseuse and lie down as you’re massaged away from your stress.
When a masseuse is unavailable, or you cannot afford a quality spa, you can perform a hand massage yourself or ask a friend or loved one to help. Hand massages are also very effective, as they can instantly calm the mind and reduce heart rate.
Can You Prevent Stress Build-up In Menopause?
As common and normal as it sounds, stress has led to many’s death, either because of mismanagement or lack of management. There are even cases of people that were unable to manage their stress and depression even after applying certain stress-relieving methods.
Although persistence will always bring results, it is even better to prevent stress, to begin with. That drives us to the million-dollar question, “Can stress Build-up be prevented in menopause?” Well, the answer is yes!!!
Since the cause of menopausal stress is known, it can be prevented or greatly reduced to a bare minimum. In menopause, the main cause of stress is the fluctuating hormonal level and other factors that lead back to menopause itself. That means that based on menopausal symptoms, we might be able to prevent stress by tackling these symptoms themselves.
Below are some methods with which we can prevent the occurrence of stress before menopause.
1. Eating meals with a lesser amount of fat and cortisol will help reduce the accumulation of cortisol before menopause. When cortisol level has regulated, the risk of cortisol-based stress would be reduced or completely prevented in menopause.
2. Obese or overweight women should ensure they exercise themselves before menopause. It will help reduce the risk of segregation and low self-esteem that broods emotional menopausal stress.
3. From a young age, females should consume diets like avocados, bananas, and broccoli that help prevent stress. Also, they should consume diets that prevent cortisol and other stress-inducing hormone accumulation.
4. Living a healthy lifestyle and exercising regularly can help prevent the build-up of stress during menopause because exercise helps to burn the calories and cortisol that induce stress during menopause.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Are there foods that likely increase stress during menopause?
Foods that increase your cortisol levels, like caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, and foods with high sugar content, will eventually increase the likelihood of causing stress.
It would be best to avoid including these kinds of food substances in your diet or reduce them to a certain degree, especially when you’re approaching or already in the menopause stage.
Similarly, there are foods also that would reduce stress levels. These healthier foods include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Eating a healthy diet would ensure your body has enough nutrients to do its work well. Cortisol levels are kept in check, and stress, anxiety, depressed moods, and other emotional imbalances are kept at bay.
- Do exercise help relieve or worsen stress in menopause?
Yes, even though rest is one sure way to relieve yourself from stress, you’d be wrong to think exercise won’t help since it’s a physical activity.
Regular and coordinated exercise routines can help in your stressed moments as a woman in menopause.
However, be sure to keep your exercise routines in check. You may worsen stress symptoms if you exasperate yourself too often during exercise bouts.
- How can I identify my stress triggers?
Certain factors most often trigger stress. Some of these stress-triggering factors are from the environment, some emotional, some physical, and some even social. Even what you eat can induce stress.
If you’re finding it hard to pinpoint what is causing you stress, you can try random and popular guesses and test them.
For example, noise is a very common trigger for stress. If you endure a lot of noise at your workplace, you feel stressed during work hours.
So, if that’s the case, you may want to confirm it’s a trigger and mark it out to avoid it. Try using earplugs while at work to reduce the noise and notice if you feel better. This method is just one of the other methods you can try.
- Is stress a disease?
No, stress is not a disease. However, it’s a deviation from the normal state of things, so you should always seek ways to let the stress steam off.
Stress affects your mood negatively and makes you less efficient in other activities. Your menopausal hormones have no right to mess with things for you daily, so even if stress is not classified as a mental health issue, you should deal with it.
- Are some menopausal women more prone to stress than others?
Stress, in its actual definition, is relative. It is about how your body reacts to a particular condition or stressor. What may stress one may not stress the other.
So, if naturally, some people are more prone to stress or react more to triggers, the same applies to women even in menopause.
Even some women experience more serious menopause symptoms than others. So also, different reactions to stress triggers for different menopausal women may be different reactions to stress triggers.
- Can stress trigger an early onset of menopause?
Not very much research with certain findings has come out of this question, but there seems to be a relation between stress patterns in a woman’s normal life and the early onset of menopause.
That is to say; it’s possible that if you adopt stressful life habits, which may be due to your job nature or environmental factors, you are likely to enter menopause earlier than you should have. It’s called stress-induced menopause by some people.
- Can hormone replacement therapy help relieve menopausal stress?
Yes, hormone replacement therapy is very popular among menopausal women to help deal with menopause symptoms.
This hormone replacement therapy replaces depleted and unbalanced levels of progesterone and estrogen in the menopausal woman’s body to counter hormonal fluctuations.
It also works for stress that’s a result of menopause. The therapy balances hormone levels so your cortisol levels are also in check, and unnecessary menopause-related stress is avoided to a bare minimum.
If you’re currently going through menopause or about to as an aging woman, you may have been feeling these stress signs. It is very important that you actively try to curtail the stress symptoms.
Because although stress is often seen as normal, it can be very dangerous. Various cases of women died due to high blood pressure from stress. Some others have committed suicide in silence.
Notwithstanding, as a woman in menopause, you should take precedence over your mental health. Try to actively look out for yourself and only do things that do not affect your health mentally, psychologically, emotionally, or physically.
You now know many ways to deal with stress in menopause, and you know which ones suit you best. I bet there are many more ways a woman undergoing menopause can deal with stress. Do well to let us know of any other stress-relieving techniques you know. In the meantime, stay happy and relaxed and don’t only manage but enjoy this stage of life as best as you can.