The 50+ Stresses and Menopause
The 50+ Stresses and Menopause, what is do they have in common? Let me explain. In my own experience and in my experience as physiotherapist and acupuncturist, I have found that the 50+ decade can be very stressful for many of us women. I realized that we are facing 8 major stresses which really impact on our life quality. These 8 major stresses do NOT include Menopause. What I would like to show is that during the 50+ decade our life is stressful even without Menopause.
STRESS # 1 – Decline of Strength and/or Health
The early 50’s is the time when most of us are noticing that we are not quite as strong anymore as we used to be. It’s nothing serious, but it’s noticeable and it is a concern as we are very aware that the outside demands are just as full on as they have been for the last 10-15 years. We are aware that these demands are not going away so quickly too – quite the contrary, they might be increasing with aging parents and/or parents in laws, teenage children and so on.
STRESS # 2: Worry about being less attractive
In western society we are very focused on the youthful, beautiful looks of women. These looks are still to this day the focus of most advertising. During most of our lives we try to keep up with what we are meant to look like; slim, well dressed, smiling and having fun. This in itself is already an illusion, but most western women spend most of their lives running after this illusion, making sure they follow the fashion, the newest diet and so on. Now with the beginning of our 50’s our looks are not quite so youthful anymore and we realize we haven’t got much chance of keeping up much longer. Many women complain that they have become invisible once they lost their youthful looks.
In addition, in our western society women don’t have a place, we are not needed anymore and once we lose our looks we are just regarded as being old. There is no status for older women in our society.
In comparison, in eastern societies older women are still very much needed as they are living within an extended family. In Thailand many older women raise the children of their daughters and/or sons. Their wisdom and support is very much needed, they have their place.
STRESS # 3: Teenage children
Teenage children are not necessarily always a worry, but they still give us plenty of reasons to be concerned. These days they are not as respectful to us parents as we were when we grew up, which can present a huge challenge. We struggle with the disrespectful treatment, the teenagers’ rooms looking like a bomb has been dropped, and the home being used as a drop in station for food and clothes supply. The mobile phone, TV, Xbox and other gadgets are their top focus and most of us parents do not really get to talk to our children anymore. These teenagers have such a strong sense of freedom and of their rights, they often are not aware that we parents enjoy our freedom too, we also have rights and are not just there to clean up after them, make sure the fridge is filled up and pay for petrol and so on.
While we want them to be strong and determined, we also want them to learn to be considerate and understanding of other people’s needs, and it worries us to see them act in such a self-centered way.
STRESS # 4: Empty Nest Syndrome
Just recently both my kids left to go travelling overseas for an unknown period of time. After being an on-call mum for 25 years, suddenly I wasn’t needed anymore. I had known for some time that they both are leaving and thought I was prepared for it! But the truth is nothing can prepare you for it. My grief was huge. Suddenly, the house was so quiet, no meals to cook, very little shopping to do, no calls anymore with requests. It was just me. I wasn’t needed anymore. I realised very quickly that my whole being was based on being needed – and that was gone!
I came to understand that I needed to work out who I was and what I wanted! In the process of being a mum, I had lost my identity!
It took me a several months to work through this crisis and with the help of EFT (Emotional Freedom Tapping) I did really well. After around 4 months I enjoyed the quiet house, always coming home to a clean house, being able to invite friends for visit anytime I wanted, just living MY life without being responsible for everything and everybody. I have worked my way through the grief and by now I am loving my freedom very much. They both have returned home in the meantime, but I am not prepared anymore to give up my freedom and take responsibility for everything. I have accepted that they are grown ups and I am not responsible for their happiness and wellbeing anymore.
Stress # 5: Aging Parents or In Laws
Aging parents or in laws can be in need of extra physical support. Depending on their age and health this can be quite intense in itself. I am not saying that it is a burden to look after them or that we don’t love doing it for them. But it is another thing that needs doing in an already busy life. In addition, seeing our parents (or in laws) getting vulnerable and less capable of doing things independently, brings up our own mortality, it brings up fears of who will look after me? Who will care for me? What will I be like when I am old? It brings up our own fears of becoming old and vulnerable and being in need of support, not being independent anymore. It brings up fears of being a burden to someone.
And of course we worry about them, we worry about their health and their wellbeing. We want them to be comfortable, but we can’t always provide that for them, depending on their health. We love them and we don’t want them to suffer.
STRESS # 6: Fear of the Future
At some stage in the early 50’s there is a realisation that we will not be able to work forever. That brings up a lot of fears and questions. Will there be enough money for retirement? Will we be financially okay? Will we have everything we need to be comfortable? This is our last chance to set ourselves up. It is a true situation of now or never!
In order to set themselves up for a comfortable retirement, many women decide to retrain or go back to uni and get a degree to ensure a solid income for the next few years while they are still able to work. Others start their own business to make extra an income and to set themselves up for the future.
Then of course we also worry about issues like who will look after me, will I be healthy, will I be a burden to my children?
STRESS # 7: Loss of Loved Ones
By the time we are in our 50’s parents, in laws and other family members are getting old and loss of loved ones might occur. The grief of losing a parent is difficult to deal with.
Coping with the loss of a close friend or family member may be one of the hardest challenges to face. When we lose a spouse, sibling or parent our grief can be particularly intense. Loss is understood as a natural part of life, but that does not diminish the shock, confusion, sadness and grief.
Loss of a parent can be a very challenging time as the death of a parent can shake the very foundation of our lives. We know it will happen eventually, but when our mum or dad dies, everything they represented, security, familiarity and protection seems to be gone. This brings up a lot of grief and sadness. And we have to cope with the loss of parental love and attention that was given uniquely to us and that we depended on, possibly even took for granted.
STRESS # 8: Struggling to Keep up with Technology
When we grew up there were no computers and no mobile phones. We would rely on our knowledge on how to do certain things. Today’s technology is constantly improving; we just thought we’d had it, when things change again. New computer programs, better technology. And we work hard to keep up, but deep down many of us feel we are always a step or two behind and we can never quite get there. It makes us worry and some women do lose their confidence. We can’t work our mobile phones out and we so often struggle with the computer. For those of us who have children nearby we can always get them to sort it out – it takes them 2 minutes to do what we struggle with for hours. For those of us who don’t have children nearby, it’s often a case of giving up eventually. The recognition that we are unable to do the task is very frustrating.
In addition to these 8 major stresses, some women experience stresses such as:
Divorce – which can be very stressful and painful.
Redundancy – which can be a blessing or a huge problem as finding a new job at this age might be difficult.
Financial hardship – single women who have brought up the children on their own and have not worked long enough to receive an appropriate pension may now worry about their financial future.
Stress at work – some women have very stressful and demanding jobs.
As we have seen we are exposed to a number of quite intense stresses. Now let’s add our daily stresses, stress at work, relationship problems, financial problems and so on to our 8 major stresses. And now to really crank it up we experience menopause on top of all that. Can you see how our stress levels are going up higher and higher?
Not every woman experiences all of these stresses, not every woman has children and not all woman experience the stresses in the same intensity.
Effects of Stress on the Body
Mind, body and emotions are inextricably linked and there is a very clear interaction between them. Our brain notices a stressor, a hormonal or chemical reaction is taking place, which then causes mental and physical issues. Some problems such as headaches and muscle tension are often directly caused by the bodily responses to stress. Many other disorders, some say most, are aggravated by stress.
Therefore stress can affect all aspects of your life. No part of the body is immune. Every woman handles stress differently and therefore symptoms of stress can vary.
Stress is directly linked to many physical symptoms such as depression, anxiety, personality disorders, muscular skeletal problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, heart rhythm problems, heart attack and stroke, cancer, insomnia, obesity, skin and hair problems, gastro-intestinal problems, just to name a few.
Many women I have talked to confirm that their menopause symptoms like hot flushes, anxiety and depression are aggravated by stress.
Let’s investigate what stress does to our Adrenal Glands
When we are stressed the Adrenal Glands are producing Adrenalin and with long term stress they are continuously pumping Adrenalin and eventually they get depleted. However, the Adrenal Glands are also meant to balance our hormone levels, which is so important during menopause. But once they are depleted, they can’t do their job anymore, hence we will experience menopausal symptoms.
Therefore, I would like to raise the question, is it possible that some of the symptoms we blame on menopause are actually directly stress related? Broken sleep, insomnia, anxiety, weight gain and so much more are stress related issues, but suddenly when we are menopausal all these symptoms are blamed on menopause.
In decreasing our stress level, the Adrenal Glands will get a chance to recuperate and take up their job again to balance our hormones out. Wouldn’t it therefore be logical to work on decreasing our stress levels?
In my coaching work I use EFT, Emotional Freedom Tapping. EFT is a gentle tapping with 2 fingers on certain acupuncture points in face and upper body, while talking about the issue on hand. EFT is a combination of the 2000 year old meridian system that is used in acupuncture and modern psychology. The tapping is sending a calming message to our Amyglada, the part in our brain that is responsible for emotional reactions and decision making.
In my coaching work I have observed again and again that as the women release their stresses, their menopause symptoms disappear as well. Depression disappears, anxiety disappears, insomnia disappears and so much more. All by just reducing their stresses.
Does this sound like an absolutely wonderful natural treatment for menopause symptoms to you? No side effects whatsoever – besides more happiness! And isn’t that what we are all looking for?
I hope you have enjoyed this blog!
If you would like support with your 50+ stresses or your menopause issues, please send click the book now button for your FREE 50+ Breakthrough Session.