Perimenopause can be difficult at times. Your body is changing and you’re experiencing a range of symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings and weight gain. While hormonal changes may result in an increased level of stress, you can still find ways to manage your stress with healthy solutions.
During perimenopause, your hormone production decreases. Specifically, your estrogen production decreases which directly impacts the level of cortisol in your body. Estrogen helps regulate your cortisol production. Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, is your body’s indicator to prepare for a stressful situation. With a decrease in estrogen, your cortisol levels increase and your body is more frequently in a stressed state.
Stress is a common reaction to certain perimenopause symptoms. Due to hot flashes and hormonal changes, perimenopausal women may have disrupted sleep. A lack of sleep increases feelings of fatigue which in return results in feelings of stress. While it has been proven to have positive benefits when felt in small amounts, stress is damaging to your health when it becomes chronic. When your body is under continuous and large amounts of stress, your immune system is weakened.
Not only does stress impact your health, but your relationships, work performance and general quality of life may also take a hit. According to Mayo Clinic, common effects of stress on your behavior include angry outbursts, social withdrawal, exercising less often and changes in sex drive.
Start by recognizing when you’re experiencing stress or identifying situations that increase your stress levels. When you feel stressed or encounter a stressful situation, the North American Menopause Society suggests trying one of the following activities:
The transition through perimenopause comes with many changes to your body and life but that doesn’t have to be negative. Becoming aware of your stress and the role it plays in your perimenopause transition can equip you to better combat it.