Stress Management During Menopause: Techniques for a Balanced Life

Last updated 12.01.2023 | by Sabrina Johnson | 8 Minutes Read

This article has been reviewed and fact checked by Dr. Karen Pike, a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. Read more at our medical disclaimer page.


As you age, you will find a transformation in the carefree life you led when you were young. Work pressure, family pressure, and other obligations start piling up, contributing to increased anxiety levels. But did you know that stress levels vary according to gender? The APA (American Psychological Association) mentions that women surpass their male counterparts in stress levels. 

The reasons are umpteen, and increased stress levels when women are transitioning into menopause aren’t unknown. Did you know? Approximately four out of ten women experience mood fluctuations in the menopause transition phase, which often accounts for their stress levels. 

In the mid-40s, mood fluctuations were common. I would feel tearful at times without any concrete reason. Concentrating for long hours at work became troublesome. At this juncture, my psychologist friend helped me a great deal. 

She explained how my body was going through hormonal fluctuations, which impacted my mood and overall well-being. She even said that forgetfulness, low confidence, irritability, anger, brain fog, and concentration issues were common in menopause. “It’s okay to get angry; it’s okay to cry; don’t be harsh on yourself”. She was right. You have to be easy on yourself and find ways to bring yourself out of the stressful situation. 

Are you troubled with your mood fluctuations in your mid-40s? Would you want to know ways to calm and relax your mind? This article of mine would hopefully come to aid. I will be dealing with aspects like the causes of stress during menopause. I will also provide tips to manage menopausal stress.

What are the Effects of Stress on Menopause?

When one is stressed, the cortisol hormone is released into the bloodstream, which increases one’s heart rate and blood pressure and causes human beings to activate the fight or flight response under certain situations.

Cortisol levels are high during the day, thereby providing us with energy, and it reduces during the evenings to allow the body to relax and sleep. However, the long-term activation of this stress response can have adverse effects on the body.

Did you know? During a stressful situation, your cortisol levels rise nine times compared to when your mind is relaxed. These were the findings deduced from a particular study. I have highlighted some points below to show the connection between stress, and menopause, and vice-versa. While menopause triggers stressful situations, increased stress also aggravates some of the menopausal symptoms. Let’s take a look: 

Tolerating Stress is Tough During Menopause

Stress levels are high for women during menopause due to all the bodily changes they face, and this stress causes the cortisol levels to go higher, which in turn affects progesterone production. As a result of this, women find it tougher to deal with stress and also experience symptoms like:

  • Worsening signs of PMS
  • Tender breasts
  • Bloating
  • Periods that are heavier and more painful

Affects Your Sleep

Melatonin, the sleep hormone, is directly linked to our cortisol levels. While melatonin levels are low during the day, cortisol levels are high at this point and give us the energy we need to go about our daily tasks.

On the other hand, cortisol levels keep reducing throughout the day, and melatonin levels get higher, giving us the peaceful sleep we need.

However, when you’re constantly stressed, the cortisol levels stay elevated, impacting the melatonin levels, causing you to get less sleep. With multiple sleepless nights, women find it tougher to handle their stress levels while going through menopause.

Messes Up Your Digestive System

As menopause heightens stress levels, it causes a leaky gut, and larger food particles enter the bloodstream. This leads women to face an increased risk of food intolerances and can lead to:

  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Acne
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating

How to Reduce Stress During Menopause

How to Reduce Stress During Menopause

While it’s not possible to keep the symptoms of menopause at bay, there are things you can do from your end to reduce the stress levels, and they include:

Improve Your Diet

  • Maintaining a balanced diet helps keep your body in shape and stay stress-free during menopause.
  • Make sure to include a lot of vitamins and minerals in your meals, and remember that whole grain carbs directly impact your digestive system and mental health.
  • Giving up smoking, caffeine, and alcohol can bring about a lot of goodness for the women facing menopause.

Bringing changes to my diet since the time I understood I was transitioning into menopause helped me immensely. I sought a nutritionist’s help, who fixed a balanced diet for me. It included fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, fish, and dairy products low in fat. Processed foods were a no-no. I even cut down on caffeine from four to five cups to just one daily.

Indulge in Exercise

Exercise releases endorphins (happy hormone), which uplift one’s mood and aid in getting rid of stress. Even getting 30 minutes of exercise about five times every week can work wonders. You can pick any physical activity you enjoy, whether walking, swimming, or dancing.

Many women also try weightlifting and exercise using resistance bands. The more consistent you are with your exercise routine, the better it will be for your stress levels.

Get Adequate Sleep

Getting adequate sleep is one of the main steps involved in feeling less stressed. Create a calm and relaxing environment for yourself before going to sleep. Listen to soothing music, read a book, and keep all sorts of electronic devices away before going to bed.

Try Relaxation Techniques

Different people prefer different activities to relax. Women going through menopause can try yoga, meditation, and also get a massage as it reduces the tension in their muscles and makes them feel rejuvenated.

My yoga therapist suggested rhythmic breathing during times when I had to take short or fast breaths due to increased anxiety levels. “As you inhale count five, and do the same as you exhale”. That’s what she said. Trust me, whenever I do this in stressful situations, it makes me feel much better. 

There are other breathing techniques to try as well, like deep breathing, visualized breathing, etc. It does help to calm you down when you are too overwhelmed.

Talk About It

Keeping all your thoughts to yourself during menopause isn’t healthy. This is why it’s imperative to discuss it with those around you, be it your friends, family members, and fellow buddies who are going through menopause.

You can also join a support group that can help you have enlightening and informative discussions. It doesn’t always have to be serious talk because even talking to a friend can bring about laughter and peace.

FAQs

1. Do emotional changes cause stress to women during menopause?

Yes, emotional changes do cause stress to women during menopause. With the hormonal changes, your physical health goes for a toss. This takes a toll on your mind as well. It gets difficult to maintain calm and patience. One starts getting jittery. You may find it challenging to keep a check on your anger. You might even have concentration issues. All these emotional changes elevate your stress levels.

2. How to treat menopause-related stress? 

When you aren’t able to control your anxiety levels, and it affects your daily living, you must seek your healthcare provider’s consultation. Depending on the severity, your doctor will decide on the treatment. He could prescribe anti-depressants and even refer you for counseling if needed.

3. Does cognitive behavior therapy help to manage stress in menopause? 

CBT is a talking therapy which helps one to develop coping skills to deal with various situations. It is said to be immensely effective to help menopausal women manage their anxiety. It even helps them deal with night sweats, hot flashes, and sleep issues. 

4. Does hormone replacement therapy help to manage stress? 

Hormone replacement therapy helps to manage the menopause-related stress. Moreover, it even works towards leveling hormonal imbalances. This way, it helps to lessen several symptoms like hot flashes, sleep, issues, and vaginal dryness, which could be the reasons for your stress. However, HRT comes with side effects as well. So, before going for it, you must discuss its pros and cons with your doctor.

Conclusion

There is no way to deny that menopause is one of the most significant life-altering moments for a woman, and the stress that comes along with it is inexplicable. However, you don’t have to feel helpless thinking that you need to live each day with elevated stress levels.

The first thing you need to do is figure out what’s causing you the stress and make the changes accordingly.

If it’s a lack of sleep, then you must fix your sleep cycle. If it’s a poor diet and lack of exercise, you need to immediately change your diet and engage in exercise as many times as you can during the week.

Once you take control of the situation, you can bring down the stress levels and lead an everyday life as possible.

Author

  • Sabrina Johnson

    Meet Sabrina Johnson, a compassionate author and a seasoned expert in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a driving force behind Simply Menopause, where her extensive medical knowledge and empathetic nature come together to empower women in their menopausal journey. Sabrina offers culturally sensitive guidance and support through her approachable writing, making her a trusted friend on the path to menopause wellness.

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