6 expert ways to beat stress during the perimenopause and feel calm TODAY
Updated: Mar 16, 2022
What is it about being in your 40’s that makes you feel so stressed? Could it be your belligerent teenage children, ageing parents that need more help or the constant juggle of work and family life? Or could it be your hormones?
Undoubtedly midlife can be stressful, but have you noticed that you are less able to deal with stress than you used to be? That the things you used to be able to cope with now have you feeling shaky, on the verge of tears and not able to switch off. There are a few things going on during the perimenopause which can make it more difficult for you to cope. The lack of sleep caused by night sweats can leave you feeling more tired and vulnerable. Disruptions to your monthly cycle and your usual hormonal rhythm may also cause mood changes; plus hot flushes can leave you feeling anxious and more stressed. Here’s what to do about it.
Managing stress levels is important for your health in the long term because stress is implicated in so many different chronic diseases, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems and asthma.
If you’re thinking you don’t fall into the ‘I’m stressed enough to be making myself ill’ category, don’t be fooled. The drip-drip-drip of everyday stress can be as damaging as major life incident-related stress (such as death and divorce), so don’t wait to take action. It’s also worth considering that stress makes it very hard to lose weight, and you’re much more likely to store it around the middle. This is because the human body hasn’t evolved much since caveman times, when the extra energy was stored where it was most easily accessed, so it could be used to run away from the sabre-toothed tiger.
Here are my top 6 ways to keep stress under control during the perimenopause:
The 10 minute mind trick.
Set aside 10 minutes a day for meditation. Simply sit down in a quiet room with your back supported and eyes closed. Try to clear your mind of all worries. Don’t worry if thoughts bubble to the surface, as this is completely normal! The more you resist, the more it will persist. Simply bring your attention back to your breath and continue until the time is up. If you’re new to meditation or need more support, find a guided meditation app or CD to lead you through the process.
Erratic eating times and skipping meals can lead to a dip in blood sugar levels, which leads to the release of the stress hormone cortisol. It’s difficult when routines go out the window, but try to stick to three meals (with two optional snacks) a day and your digestion will thank you for it. Base all your meals and snacks on protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, beans and seeds), fruit and vegetables and smaller amounts of complex carbs (brown rice, wholemeal bread or pasta).
Cut back on alcohol and caffeine
I know it’s hard, especially now we’re out of lockdown and socialising again, but try ditching (or significantly reducing) your alcohol and caffeine intake. Caffeine causes a release of stress hormones from the adrenal glands - the last thing you want if you are already stressed! At first, alcohol might help to relax you when you’re stressed out (by promoting the release of GABA, the calming neurotransmitter), but it is quickly metabolised to sugar that can lead to a restless sleep, which leads me onto my next tip.
Get into a sleep routine that includes relaxing practices such as taking a warm bath with Epsom salts, light reading or stretching. Introduce a digital detox at least an hour before bed (that means no phones, no TV, no laptops or tablets), so as not to disrupt melatonin production (the sleepy hormone). A light snack such as an oatcake with almond butter or a banana may help to support undisturbed sleep.
Eat magnesium-rich meals
Magnesium relaxes the nervous system and muscles so eating foods rich in this mineral, such as leafy greens, avocados, sesame seeds and spinach can help reduce stress.
Get to the cause
Look at the root cause to any stress in your life, and think about how you respond to it. If the effect of stress or just general busyness gets in the way of your efforts to stay healthy and you’d like to do something about it, I warmly invite you to book a FREE 30-minute consultation to help get you moving forwards with some simple nutrition strategies you can start using right away. We can do this at a time to suit you over the phone or by zoom (your choice). Book your free 30 minute consultation today using this link >>