Why does stress management matter so much in menopause?
In this community we often talk about the importance of learning to ‘digest stress’. Infact many of the nutritionists we work with argue that, without first assessing and reframing external pressures and the way we respond to them, any nutritional changes will struggle to have an impact.
The reason? Sitting behind the brain/ gut conductor is an orchestra of hormones: each with a specific role to play in keeping our bodies balanced. When we feel stressed, our bodies release a complex group of hormones, including the stress hormone cortisol. Our heart rate increases, along with our blood pressure and our blood sugar. At the same time digestion and immunity are suppressed.
Critically, when cortisol is produced, our bodies deprioritise the production of our sex hormones too. This means that when we’re stressed we produce less progesterone, oestrogen and testosterone. We also produce less stomach acid.
This matters in menopause because our bodies are already depleted in these hormones. By internalising stress we place extra pressure on our bodies and reduce production further.
Midlife is messy. Menopause hits when many of us are juggling increased career pressure and opportunity, we may have new family dynamics that require more from us, relationship shifts, parents that need support…all alongside the questions around our sense of self, our direction of travel as humans, evolving personal wants and needs.
Change begins off the plate. And incremental tweaks can make a big difference. Here are a few recommendations from our expert team;
1. LEARN TO BREATHE.
Research shows that there’s a direct correlation between our emotional state and the way we breathe. By learning to control our breath, preemptively - whether through mindfulness practice, cognitive behavioural therapy, yoga or specific breathwork practice - we are able to manage our breath when we begin to feel the familiar signs of overwhelm or anxiety.
2. EMBRACE THE POWER OF THE PEN.
Journaling can help us process negative emotions and events, sleep better, improve brain function and productivity. By putting down thoughts on paper, we can mitigate the churning of recycling them in our mind. There are many journaling frameworks out there. Allow yourself time to experiment and find the prompts and practice that works for you.
3. MOVE IN NATURE.
Getting outside at the start and end of the day, and specifically being able to watch the sun rise and set, can have a profound effect on our brains, our hormones and our stress levels. Serotonin is stimulated, which not only helps us to feel happy, it also promotes feelings of calm and enables focus.
4. FEEL MORE.
There is a reason so many of us are drawn to cold water in menopause. Cold therapy is actually a ‘good stressor’. By facilitating a short, shocking burst of cold, we trigger our parasympathetic nervous system, reduce inflammation in our bodies and increasing endorphin levels.
5. START THE DAY WITH A PFF BREAKFAST.
A protein heavy breakfast full of good fats and fibre is the best change you can make to your diet (alongside taking our blends of course!). And it is so easy to do. From avocado, eggs and toast to oily fish, vegetables and legumes ..or greek yoghurt with flaxseeds and fruit, moving away from refined carbohydrates and sugary cereal will balance your blood sugar, your hormones and your mind.
We’ll never remove stress from our lives. But we can learn to manage it. And, the very act of prioritising your mind, can lead to a happier state. And when your body knows it’s being listened to, it no longer needs to scream.
Rebekah and the MPowder Team