It is important to understand that there are alternatives to HRT that will support you physically and mentally if you are unable to, or choose not to take the hormone replacement route.
Look at your lifestyle and make healthier choices regarding your diet, activity levels, your sleeping habits and your stress levels.
Top Tips to Support You Through Your Transition
Tip #1 - Eat Yourself Happy
Eat a Mediterranean style diet with lots of plant-based foods: a wide variety of vegetables and fruit, wholegrains, nuts and seeds, beans and pulses and fermented foods, and reduce the amount of processed foods, meat, fish, dairy, eggs and sugar.
Make sure you eat the rainbow and a balance of macro nutrients, ensuring protein is prioritised. You might consider cutting back on carbohydrates as excess is stored as fat, but shy away from deprivation diets that cut out entire food groups unless you are specifically advised to do so.
Be sure you are also getting enough calcium and Vit D. Supplementing Vit D through the winter months in the UK is vital, as we will not be able to absorb enough naturally.
Tip #2 - Get Active
Keep as active as pain allows and do exercise that you enjoy. Schedule a regular and achievable amount of exercise in to at least 4 days of your week. Be sure to elevate your heart rate to feel about 70% of your maximum effort to support your heart health and stimulate the release of endorphins (the happy/pleasure hormone).
Better still; join a group exercise class. You will have the added benefits of being kept accountable to turn up and do it, motivated by the others in the group, and get an oxytocin hit (the feel good/love hormone), from being socially among other like minded individuals.
But be sure to keep it real and achievable. It is better to be realistic with your plans, than overoptimistic and feeling like you've failed making excuses for not doing it, or having to stop if it is too much too soon. (See the 3 P’s).
Tip #3 - Reduce Toxins
Reduce alcohol and smoking – these can actually make pain and all menopausal symptoms worse.
Tip #4 - Identify Stressors & Breathe
Keep on top of stress levels. Think about what your triggers for stress might be, and learn some breathing and relaxation techniques to use in the moment.
Pre-empting triggers and controlling the controllables can also be helpful. You might work around ways to avoid certain situations that you know cause you unnecessary stress or anxiety. Where this isn't possible however, being prepared can help. Schedule in some time either side of a meeting , or presentation or whatever the stress trigger might be, to down-regulate your sympathetic nervous system with some mindfulness, alternate nostril or diaphragmatic breathing and/or meditation.
Tip #5 - Clean Up Your Bedtime Routine
Create habits for good sleep. By following a bedtime routine that supports restfulness, such as making sure your room is cool and dark, having a consistent time for going to bed and getting up, limiting screen use before bed, limiting caffeine in the afternoon and evening, avoiding daytime naps, and spending more time outdoors.
All of these are simple and achievable habits to get in to, and can have a hugely positive impact on stimulating the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone, and managing the timing of cortisol (the hormone to wake you up) released during your sleep cycle.
Cortisol is best known for its role in the stress response. Under stressful circumstances, the HPA axis spurs the release of cortisol.
Cells all over your body are studded with cortisol receptors, so this hormone can trigger lots of nearly instant threat responses, including:
rapid heart rate
spike in blood sugar
Sleep and the stress response share the same pathway: the HPA axis. When something disrupts the HPA axis functions, it can disrupt your sleep cycles as well.
Your sleep-wake cycle follows a circadian rhythm. Every 24 hours, roughly synchronized with nighttime and daytime, your body enters a period of sleep followed by a waking period. The production of cortisol in your body follows a similar circadian rhythm.
Cortisol production naturally drops to its lowest point around midnight. It peaks about an hour after you wake up. For many people, the peak is 8-9 a.m.
When your melatonin and cortisol levels are off balance, you might find it difficult to get to sleep, or perhaps you can get to sleep, but find you regularly wake at 3-4am and cannot get back to sleep. This is often due to the spike of cortisol released too early and then not dissipating, leaving you in a heightened state of awareness and anxiety about not sleeping - and so the cycle continues.
Disrupted cortisol levels don’t only impact your ability to sleep. They can also affect other aspects of your health. For instance, disrupted cortisol levels can cause:
changes in your metabolism
anxiety and depression
PUTTING IT IN TO PRACTICE
The Importance of the 3 P’s: Pacing, Planning, Prioritise
As well as looking at your lifestyle and making some achievable changes where you know you need to, think about how you go about organising and structuring your day and your week. Common bad habits include ‘pushing through’ activities, which can cause a flare up in symptoms, possibly having to then cancel activities and miss out on important things. Some of your good progress can be undone by being overambitious and regretting it afterwards.
Pacing is a useful way to manage any activity you have to do. This means breaking an activity down into smaller more manageable chunks, and taking a rest in between rather than just trying to get it done all in one go.
Planning activities ahead of time is so important to understand and control your own limits rather than letting your symptoms dictate when it’s time to stop because you simply can’t carry on. Try to do the same amount of physical activity each day, and keep this consistent throughout your week, rather than having a few very busy days followed by ‘rest’ days.
Prioritise what matters to you to ensure you have the energy and symptom control to engage in whatever are the most enjoyable and meaningful activities to you.
TAKE THE FIRST STEPS ON YOUR PATH TO
Read as much information as you can to support your understanding of the perimenopause and menopause. It can be useful to track your symptoms and your periods (if you still have them) and keep a record of how they’re affecting you, so should you wish to visit your GP, you have a record to refer to.
For more information or to find out how Katie's M-Power mentoring might help you find your new path, GET IN TOUCH via phone on 07775 852791 or contact Katie here
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