Stress abounds at this life stage: Work demands, teenage children or an “empty nest,” aging parents, relationships, menopausal symptoms and finances can all wreak havoc on sleep. And daytime sleepiness can blunt mental alertness and lead to problems in the workplace and daily life, creating a vicious cycle.
But what exactly is stress? Stress is the perception that something is more than one can manage. The body then responds to the perception with a variety of emotions: anxiety, fear, depression, anger. Sometimes the stress response can make people more efficient and more effective as in defense from anger, but too much stress can be harmful. Signs that you’ve hit your tipping point include changes in appetite and sleeping patterns, headaches, crying, substance abuse, anxiety or panic attacks, irritability and moodiness.
Yet some people are able to thrive even with lots of stress in their lives. What qualities do they possess? Resilient people tend to think of changes and setbacks as a challenging and normal part of life. They use stress to as motivation to take positive action to reach realistic goals. They build strong relationships with family and friends and aren’t afraid to ask for help when needed. Resilient people also tend to participate regularly in both social and solitary activities for relaxation and fun.
Build resilience by using these stress-management techniques:
- First, ask yourself if there is another way you can view the situation or if there is something you can do to change or control the situation you find yourself in. If so, set realistic goals and work toward them in small increments.
- Remind yourself that menopause is a phase (like puberty and postpartum blues). Most of the symptoms gradually fade away.
- Learn your own best methods of relaxation and use them regularly.
- Make sure to get enough sleep and physical activity.
- Avoid extreme reactions—just take it slow.
- Do something good for others. This is one of the best ways to change your focus and feel good about your actions.
- Try to “use” your stress in a productive way. Again, work on a goal or a personal project, or work off the stress with exercise.
For further information, visit this stress resource from the National Institutes of Health and US Library of Medicine.
For more tips on how to transform the menopause experience into a positive one, visit the NAMS website.
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