Stress and perimenopause weight loss

Where is Part I of the resistance to perimenopause weight loss? I haven’t finished it, but let’s address the second issue  – our unmoderated stress response. I’ve talked about stress before and where it can come from, but let’s talk about four specific areas you can focus on to offload some stress from your life – Remove, Reassign, Release, and Resilience.

Remove

Rid yourself of unnecessary stressors in your life, be it toxic people, strenuous workouts, chemical or EMF exposures, asshole bosses; this list could go on forever. If something cannot be removed entirely, that is okay. We may have to deal with it but in a way that reduces that stress burden. Due to some work on Release, I had to remove a family member from my life. I feel better, and she probably does too, because that stress is gone.

Reassign

As most of us know, any good manager delegates. Unfortunately for most women at this stage, we are deep in our careers, our kids may be at their neediest, our parents are aging and we may be the primary caregiver, and the relationship with our partner may feel like it is slipping away. We feel like we have to carry the burden of it all. This isn’t the case. Assess what can be taken off your plate and given to others. Reassign was one of the hardest things for me. If you want it done right, do it yourself, right? Sure, but your perfectionism is another stressor – see Release. Lessen your standards and let others pitch in. You will be surprised how freeing this can be.

Release

During perimenopause, fluctuating estrogen can affect our brain’s neurotransmitters, including serotonin and acetylcholine, which help keep our moods steady. Other changes in our brain from estrogen and progesterone fluctuations affect our temporal lobe and limbic areas. This is where our emotions lie. If we have had trauma in our life, those healthy hormone levels and balances have helped keep those emotions at bay. When the fluctuations of perimenopause come, emotions and old baggage can come flooding to the surface. The best thing here – get help. Talk to someone and do the work to release those traumas from your life. I had to deal with some things I never wanted to acknowledge, but once I did, their power was gone – no guilt, no shame, just facts of my past.

On a smaller, less severe scale, don’t sweat the small stuff. Release it back to the world. Feel it, acknowledge it, laugh at it, and take away its power. One for me was letting go of the way the Hubs brushes his teeth. I felt some intense irritation all of a sudden, even though he had been brushing in front of me for 15 years at that point. I had to consciously let it go. Trivial right? But those little irritations can pile on your sympathetic nervous system. Add these up in your day to see the potential. And remember, you are not crazy or evil; your brain chemistry is a little wonky.

Resilience

We want to build up our parasympathetic rest and digest part of our nervous system, so it always putting the brakes on the gas of our sympathetic fight or flight system when needed. How do we do that? Meditation, walks in nature, gargling, singing, laughing, resonance breathing – anything that improves our ventral vagal tone and parasympathetic system. Take time to recover from stressful workouts and support your digestive and immune systems. Get exercise, sunshine, and sleep. Spend quality time with friends and family – the ones that don’t cause undue stress. The better your resiliency, the less any stressor will set you back.

Up next, the other cause of our resistance to perimenopause weight loss – hormone imbalances – and what we can do about them. In the meantime, join the discussion over at the Menopause Macros Facebook Group.

References

Greendale, G. A., Derby, C. A., & Maki, P. M. (2011). Perimenopause and Cognition. Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America, 38(3), 519–535. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ogc.2011.05.007

McCarthy M. M. (2008). Estradiol and the developing brain. Physiological reviews88(1), 91–124. https://doi.org/10.1152/physrev.00010.2007

McEwen BS. Effects of stress on the developing brain. Cerebrum. 2011;2011:14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3574783/