Stress, anxiety, anger and tears. Emotional symptoms are consuming, in the same way that pain or hot flashes are.
There’s lots of great advice out there about managing the physical symptoms of the menopause and perimenopause. This is brilliant. Nearly all women are affected by these issues, so the more we talk about it, the better. However, it’s easy to forget how the menopause can affect your emotional health. The emotional effects of menopause are often the most bewildering symptoms and can easily get overlooked.
What are hormones?
We often think of hormones as purely emotional- probably in relation to teenage mood swings or PMS symptoms. Hormones actually play a fundamental role in the body. They are the body’s chemical messengers; travelling through the bloodstream to support tissue and organ functionality.
Hormones influence lots of different bodily processes, including growth, metabolism, mood, sexual function and reproduction.
What’s happening to my hormones during the menopause?
The menopause describes a period of significant bodily transformation. During this time, oestrogen (the female sex hormone) begins to decline. This has a knock-on effect on the chemicals that regulate mood, such as serotonin. So, it’s completely normal to feel yourself getting ‘mood-swings’ or feeling more upset, anxious or angry than you otherwise would.
Don’t underestimate the effect of hormonal imbalance. Their job is fundamental, and by no means trivial. Changes to your hormones can have a drastic impact on the way you feel.
The non-hormonal aspect of menopause emotions
As well as the physical changes that are happening in your body, you may be experiencing some difficult thoughts. For many women, this is a time of reflection. The physical changes often coincide with moving into a new phase of life, which isn’t always an easy realisation.
Regulating mood during menopause
There’s several ways to combat mood changes during the menopause:
As ever, moving your body is great for your mental and physical health. Plus, if you’re struggling to come to terms with your bodily changes, exercise can make you feel more in tune with your physical self.
Exercise is a natural mood booster. It makes us feel productive, calmer and energised. If you’re already used to regular exercise, keep doing the things you enjoy. If not, try something you like the sound of. Sometimes its helpful to pick something lower-intensity like yoga, walking or swimming when you’re just starting out.
2. Regroup with yourself:
Yes, you’re entering a new phase of life. But that doesn’t mean you should compromise on your goals. Think about what it is that drives you. This could be a professional or personal goal, but should be something you’re passionate about. Make a plan to achieve your goals or live happier.
3. Social support:
Ensure you have a supportive network of people who can relate to what you’re going through. There’s nothing worse than explaining your woes and it falling on dead ears, or loved ones thinking you’re overreacting.
Get together your best group of girlfriends, your mum, your aunt or anyone with a kind and willing ear. Speak about how you’re feeling. It’s natural, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Take time every day to quiet your mind. Meditation sounds like an unachievable state of serenity. In reality, all you need to do is sit peacefully, and try to focus your attention on your breath, or the moment. This will help you tune out of the mental clutter that might make you feel stressed or upset. It’s not easy to start with, but you’ll soon get into the practice of relaxation.
Be sure to get enough sleep every night to allow your mind and body to properly rest. Note that it’s vital to get good quality sleep. It’s not enough to be in bed for eight hours. You should wake up feeling rested (as much as possible). Some good tips for getting good sleep is to turn your devices off at least half an hour before sleep.