**Stress and Menopause
-Many women find the time around menopause stressful.
-This may be partially due to hormonal changes and resulting bothersome symptoms such as hot flashes and disrupted sleep.
-In addition, family and personal issues such as the demands of teenage children, children leaving home, aging parents, midlife spouses, and career changes often converge on women during these years.
-Chronic stress is not good for anyone’s health.
-It may cause increased blood pressure and heart rate, headaches, gastric reflux, depression/anxiety, and, over the long term, an increased risk for heart disease.
-Some believe that chronic stress may affect our immune system, making us more susceptible to illness, infections, and even cancer.
-Stress affects not only our health but also our relationships, work performance, general sense of well-being, and quality of life.
-Among some menopausal women, stress can be a prominent experience.
-It is a feeling of being under too much pressure, often both emotionally and physically.
-Stress is the result of your body’s reaction to a specific situation.
-Two people can go through the same experience – one might find the position stressful and the other perfectly reasonable and comfortable.
-Stress can affect the way you act and think.
-It can also lead to sleep problems, headaches, difficulty concentrating or difficulty acting rationally.
-Your body produces cortisol to allow you to cope with stress.
-However, consistently high levels of cortisol can be damaging to your body. This is why prolonged stress is not good for your health.
-The hormone oestrogen helps maintain the level of cortisol in the body.
-As you go through the menopause, the levels of oestrogen begin to drop.
-This means you are unable to regulate cortisol levels in your body as effectively as before, causing you to experience stress more readily.
-For many women, early menopause can cause shock, sadness, fear, and anxiety.
-There may be a sense of loss and loss of control.
-Loss of fertility may change your self-image and affect your self-esteem.
-Early menopause can change the way you see yourself as a sexual partner.
-The transition to menopause can be a time of reflection and inspiration.
-Although transitions of any kind can be inherently difficult, many women experience a newfound sense of freedom and anticipate personal growth.
-Eliciting a “relaxation response” increases muscle relaxation, quiets the mind, promotes positive emotions, learning, concentration, creativity, and can reduce such symptoms as hot flashes, insomnia, PMS, and pain.
-When women actually make themselves a priority (even 15 minutes a day), dramatic changes can occur.
**The Relaxation Response
-The relaxation response is the rest and digest part of the nervous system.
-It basically undoes the work of the stress response after a stressful situation.
-The relaxation response happens when we feel safe, nurtured or taken care of.
-It can block effects from your body’s response to stress.
-This is good for your mental and physical health.
**Effective Relaxation Techniques
-The most effective relaxation technique is one that works for you!
-Different relaxation techniques will help different people at different times.
-What works for you this week, may not work next week.
-But it might work again next month.
-Our needs vary and so it’s important to have a toolbox of relaxation techniques to help you on a regular basis.