Hot Mess: Tips for Navigating Menopause Stress on World Menopause Day
It's not just your body temperature that's heating up during perimenopause and menopause. If you're noticing that even the tiniest things ignite a fiery temper you never knew existed, you're certainly not alone. Stress, anger, and irritability during perimenopause and menopause are all too common.
The rollercoaster of hormones during perimenopause and menopause, combined with a barrage of physical and emotional symptoms (yes, as many as 48!), can leave you feeling overwhelmed and isolated. But here's the good news: there are effective strategies to manage these uncomfortable symptoms, find the support you need, and feel like yourself again.
The conversation around menopause is growing, and with this cultural shift comes a wealth of insights that have the potential to empower employers, brands, healthcare professionals, and peers to offer support across the board. For excellent menopause resources and support, check out GenM's website. But what can you do when stress starts affecting your daily life, relationships, or work? How can you effectively manage stress and its unwanted impact on both your body and mind?
Why Am I So Stressed During Perimenopause and Menopause? The Science
Menopause symptoms and the accompanying changes to our physical and mental states are enough to rattle even the most composed of us. Hormones play a pivotal role in understanding this unfortunate link.
You've probably heard of the "fight or flight" response. When stress hits, our bodies can trigger either of these responses to help us respond to perceived threats. The key hormones behind these stress reactions are adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline, produced in the adrenal glands, ramps up your heart rate, blood pressure, and energy levels, while cortisol hikes up blood sugar levels .
During menopause, your ovaries stop producing estrogen, and the adrenal glands take over this role. If the adrenal glands are busy making stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, it can further reduce the production of estrogen and progesterone . Since lowered levels of estrogen are responsible for many menopausal symptoms, it’s not surprising that you may feel more intense symptoms when stressed.
Can Stress Cause Bleeding or Spotting During and After Menopause?
Menopause is officially diagnosed when you've gone a full year without a period. During perimenopause, your periods are likely to become irregular. They might be heavier or lighter than usual, or more or less frequent. Elevated cortisol levels can lead to delayed, missed, or lighter periods than what you're used to . So, if you're wondering whether stress can influence your menstrual cycle, the answer is a resounding yes.
Dr Andrew Krinksy, a gynecologist, explains that both physical and mental stress can play a role in post-menopausal bleeding. However, it's always best to consult your healthcare professional if you notice any bleeding after menopause, even if it's just spotting.
Tips for Easing Menopause Stress
How to Dial Down Stress and Boost Wellbeing During Menopause
- Consult your doctor, gynecologist, or menopause specialist. If stress is impacting your daily life, work, or relationships, it's time to seek professional help. Menopause symptoms can be managed with treatments like Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and complementary therapies. Visit our menopause page for additional resources and support as you navigate this phase.
- Prioritize rest and sleep. Your body is undergoing significant changes, and fatigue is a natural result. You don't need justification to give yourself permission to rest. Create a calming bedtime routine and stick to it. This might involve reducing screen time before bed, minimizing distractions, and hitting the sack a bit earlier.
- Cut back on caffeine and other stimulants. Remember cortisol? Caffeine elevates cortisol levels, making it tougher to keep stress in check. Opt for decaf or consider skipping it altogether.
- Safeguard your mental health. There are numerous practical and medicinal methods to support your mental health, reduce anxiety, and improve your mood. Improved mental health equips you to better handle stress and tackle life’s inevitable challenges.
- Reduce stressors and embrace self-care. Reflect on whether you're taking on too much. Are there areas you can simplify or reprioritize to carve out time for activities you enjoy? When stress starts creeping up, pause and consider what you need in that moment. Self-awareness is a powerful tool for regaining control during periods of high stress.
- Have open conversations with loved ones, your boss, and HR team. Communicating with your loved ones can help them support you effectively. It can also help you let go of any guilt stemming from your emotions. Some workplaces have policies in place to support women during menopause. GenM offers fantastic resources for navigating menopause in the workplace.
For expert tips on preparing for menopause and embarking on this journey with more confidence and ease, check out our dedicated menopause page.
 Cleveland Clinic