How to Stay Sane During Menopause

Just think, soon your periods will be history! Meanwhile, declining hormones are causing physiologic shifts in your body. Although hormone replacement therapy can ease discomfort, it poses the risk of stroke, blood clots, breast cancer, and heart attack. Fortunately, there are natural ways to cope. Here’s how to stay composed during menopause.

SYMPTOMS EXPLAINED

Menopause occurs as ovaries slow their output of reproductive hormones. Decreasing estrogen confuses the brain’s hypothalamus, the region that regulates body temperature. When the hypothalamus senses too much internal heat, it prompts blood vessel dilation and sweating.

As hormones vacillate, so do emotions. Among those that can ebb and flow are anxiety, depression, and irritability.

Waning estrogen reduces activity in the hippocampus, the brain area that processes memory. Consequently, some women experience brain fog, an umbrella term for hampered concentration, thinking, and recall.

Here’s how to manage the distress of hot flashes, fluctuating moods, reduced cognition, and night sweats.

HOT FLASHES

Breathe Deeply – Inhale slowly for a count of five. Exhale slowly for a count of five. After about four rounds of long, deep breaths, a hot flash will usually fade. This technique, termed paced breathing, lowers the stress hormone cortisol that raises core temperature.

Drink Water – Dehydration worsens symptoms, so always keep a water bottle handy. Each day, sip a total volume of water that’s half your body weight. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, try to drink 70 ounces daily.

Avoid Triggers – Caffeine sparks hot flashes and moodiness. If coffee is a must each morning, try limiting it to one cup a day. Also, omit spicy foods, hot beverages, and alcohol.

Exercise – Vigorous activity lessens flushing by lowering follicle-stimulating and luteinizing hormones. Engage in aerobics that are fun for you, such as swimming, biking, jogging, dancing, or walking. Ideally, try to exercise for 20 minutes, three times weekly.

Try Acupuncture – This type of alternative medicine can reduce hot flashes by promoting energy flow, as demonstrated by a 2016 study reported in Menopause. After eight acupuncture treatments, 47 percent of the menopausal subjects found that hot flashes dropped by half their previous amount. If you opt for acupuncture, try it for one month. By then, you’ll know whether it’s helping.

Take Red Clover – Dr. Axe, renowned naturopathic doctor, recommends red clover for hot flashes. This herb contains isoflavones, plant hormones resembling estrogen. In addition to relieving flushing, red clover helps to prevent bone loss related to osteoporosis.

FLUCTUATING MOODS

Use Aromatherapy – Inhaling aromatic essential oils, such as the following, can instantly improve your mood:

  • Rose is uplifting.
  • Clary sage eases depression and stress.
  • Peppermint is vitalizing and dispels nervousness.
  • Lavender calms anxiety and agitation.
  • Geranium banishes gloom.

To employ aromatherapy, apply three drops of essential oil to a tissue, and sniff the scent. Or, inhale an oil directly from its bottle. With a diffuser, you can disperse essential oils through the air. Turn a room into a fragrant haven!

For short-term benefits, add five drops of essential oil to a bowl of hot water, and place it nearby. Or, mix five drops with water in a spray bottle, and spritz the air, away from your face.

Eat Healthfully – Boost your intake of B vitamins by consuming yogurt, whole grains, eggs, beans, nuts, sunflower seeds, and leafy green vegetables. Obtain omega-3 fatty acids by eating walnuts, hemp seeds, and ground flax seeds.

Minimizing sugar intake tames a host of menopausal symptoms, including irritability, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and brain fog.

REDUCED COGNITION

Relish Rosemary – This herb boosts mental function by increasing blood flow to the brain. Rosemary improves alertness, memory, processing speed, and accuracy. Inhale the essential oil, and sprinkle the leaves on food. Rosemary adds savory flavor to butter, bread, and vegetables. You can also drink it as tea, lightly sweetened with honey.

Challenge Your Brain – Doing crosswords and puzzles strengthens memory. Online brain training games sharpen a range of cognitive abilities, including focus, reasoning, flexibility, memory, problem-solving, and reaction time.

NIGHT SWEATS

Take Black Cohosh – Dr. Josh Axe recommends this herb to balance hormones. Supplement with 80 milligrams once or twice daily.

Lower Body Temp – Preface sleep with a lukewarm shower, priming your body for the ideal sleep temperature.

Sip Sage – Sage tea is anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic, inhibiting perspiration. Drink a cup before bedtime.

Cool Your Bed – Sleep on cooling sheets, designed to reduce perspiration via air flow or absorbency. Buy cotton or bamboo linens with a thread count of 300 or less. A loose weave prevents heat from getting trapped by fabric.

Pair breathable bed sheets with the best cooling pillow. Several types are available, dissipating warmth from your head and neck either by heat transfer, evaporation, or materials that adjust to your body temp. Also, wear pajamas made of breathable material, such as cotton.

Be Prepared – Keep water at your bedside, and drink it at the onset of a sweating episode. Have a towel handy to dry your skin.

SWEET RELIEF

Menopause is rough, but don’t despair. You can relieve discomfort with paced breathing, hydration, acupuncture, aromatherapy, and exercising both your body and brain. Eat foods high in B vitamins and omega-3s, and minimize intake of sugar, alcohol, and caffeine.

Take herbs that balance hormones and increase brain circulation, such as red clover, black cohosh, rosemary, and sage. Ease night sweats with breathable sheets and a cooling pillow.

With all these coping methods, you’ll not only keep your sanity. You’ll be the same strong and capable woman you’ve always been!

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