8 strategies to reduce perimenopause symptoms and reclaim your life
Perimenopause can be hard. More like hell actually.
The hormonal changes associated with perimenopause can start as early as in your late 30s when your menstrual cycles are still regular.
Oestrogen level increases while progesterone level is low causing a swirl of symptoms.
Some of the most common ones are:
– hot flashes
– mood swings
– difficulties sleeping
– brain fog
– deep emotional and psychological shift
– weight gain
– body stiffness
– hair loss
– breast tenderness
– menstrual cycle getting wild with irregularity
– heavy and prolonged bleeding
– worsened PMS
Just to name a few.
The good news is perimenopause is not there to stay, it is a natural transition and you are not doomed to suffer quietly.
The strategies I am about to show you will help you can reclaim your life from perimenopause.
By the way, you could experience only mild symptoms or even no symptoms at all.
But research shows that 85% of menopausal people experienced perimenopausal symptoms.
It is important to remember that perimenopause is not your body going crazy for no reason but a natural process that ends with you stepping into menopause, that is 2 years after your last menstruation.
Once you are on the other side of perimenopause and enter menopause a new beginning awaits you.
Menopause can be a time of full alignment with your inner purpose, clarity and inner radiance that allows you to share your wisdom with others.
Remembering this will help you reframe your perimenopause experience.
Due to the extreme variability of perimenopause length, symptoms and symptoms intensity it is crucial that you identify what is going on in your body and which strategies you can put in place to have a smoother perimenopause.
Here are the 8 essential strategies that can help you have a smoother perimenopause
Strategy n. 1 to reduce perimenopause symptoms: don’t suffer quietly
As you go through this challenging time, don’t suffer quietly. Ask for help.
People often realise the years of debilitating physical and mental symptoms they experienced were perimenopause only after the permanent cessation of menstruation.
Other times they assume that’s the way it is supposed to be, perpetuating the dominant menstrual cycle social construction which holds menstrual cycle and anything related to it as something to be kept away from public discourse.
The first strategy for a smoother perimenopause is to speak up and connect.
Connect with people around you that might be experiencing or have experienced perimenopause.
Build a sisterhood circle where you can share what you experience and be supportive of each other.
Speak up about your perimenopausal symptoms with your family, friends and on the workplace.
Talk about it with your GP and ask if they know of any perimenopause support group or start one yourself!
Strategy n. 2 to reduce perimenopause symptoms: move away from stress
Stress has a devastating impact on your overall health and wellbeing. During perimenopause this becomes especially true as stress can both worsen perimenopausal symptoms and be their consequence.
Put simply, when you are chronically stressed you produce more stress hormones and less sex hormones. This has a negative influence on your menstrual cycle.
Things get worse at perimenopause because losing progesterone can destabilise the HPA axis.
Stress is a short term survival response of our body to danger. But for many of us stress has become a long term mechanism.
We run on stress to keep up with productivity, career, caring for our family, social demands.
When this goes on for years, your entire body-mind-spirit system gets wrecked.
At this point, moving away from stress during menopause is a non-negotiable.
Easier said than done right?
Let me make it actionable for you.
Take pen and paper and do this little exercise: write down 5 things you are grateful for, the ones that make you feel safe, at ease and happy. Then write down 5 things that make you feel uncomfortable, agitated, the ones that make you clench your jaw and harden your belly.
Is there anything you can do to change those uncomfortable feelings and if not how can you take action so that the stress factor doesn’t influences you as much?
Reduce the stress response
Besides working on identifying and changing the stressors load in your life, I advice you to practice stress reduction techniques.
These are the most effective ones for you.
– Pranayama works on different levels:
– Activates your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest response)
– It reduces heart and respiratory rate and blood pressure
– Activates the vagus nerve
– From a yogic perspective Pranayama uses specific breathing techniques of subtle inhalation and exhalation and breath retention to let the Prana (vital energy) flow effectively in our entire being, therefore you also remove obstacles that might keep the energy stagnating in your body
I advice you to practice breath awareness and pranayama techniques that focus on exhalation such as Ujjayi I, Viloma II.
Read my blog post “How to relieve perimenopausal hotflashes” for more cooling pranayama techniques that help with hotflashes.
Conscious relaxation in Savasana
Savasana (corpse pose) allows you to rest, relax and restore.
Its benefits include:
– Reducing heart and respiratory rate and blood pressure
– Balancing the autonomic nervous system
– Relaxing your body completely
– Keeping your mind alert yet passive
I suggest you practice Savasana daily for 10 minutes and take notes of your physical, mental, emotional state before and after the practice. With constant practice you will be surprised at how much you can actually rest, relax and recover.
Strategy n. 3 to reduce perimenopause symptoms: don’t try to do things the old way, the old way is dying
As you experience physical and/or mental challenges that are completely new to you, it is crucial that you accept the change that is happening and don’t resist it or fight back.
Perimenopause is a natural process which is going to happen whether you want it or not. Learning to accept this transition and do things in a way that supports your mind and body will allow you to feel more at ease instead of feeling like life is throwing way too much at you.
See, the modifications you are going through are so profound that the good old cardio sweats are not enough to shed that belly fat. Another cup of coffee doesn’t push you through your hectic daily schedule. And the list goes on.
Supporting yourself through perimenopause means finding a new self-care paradigm.
Like a snake shedding its skin, you get rid of what no longer serves you
so that you can be reborn energetic, confident and centred in your purpose
Strategy n. 4 to reduce perimenopause symptoms: change your movement routine
Your perimenopausal body requires extra attention and care.
Mindful movement can make a big difference in managing and reducing your symptoms, whereas casual exercise can exacerbate your aches, pains and other symptoms.
Did I mention already that if you don’t have a movement routine you’ve got to get moving?
Whether you are starting from scratch or you are redefining your routine, the practice of yoga asanas can be a great support tool and this why.
– It counteracts aches and pains thanks to the intelligent use of props and the variety of asanas modifications proposed
– It supports bone and muscle health, cognitive function, good posture, pelvic floor health
– It reduces stress
– It supports cardiovascular health
– It promotes emotional balance
I advice incorporating weights training too to support bone and muscular health, well functioning metabolism, cardiovascular health, self confidence.
Strategy n. 5 to reduce perimenopause symptoms: turn inward
The more outward oriented you are in your life the more perimenopausal symptoms hit you hard. This is what I see all the time.
If you have your well established self-care toolkit and you have the healthier menstrual cycle you can have, you are likely to have a smoother perimenopause.
Your body and mind have enough resilience to take on the perimenopausal changes.
If you have a 24/7 active lifestyle, you take care of everybody and everything around you, you have an intense work life and you don’t have enough downtime from it all, you have a harder time accepting the perimenopausal changes and supporting yourself as needed.
If you did not do it before, perimenopause is your last call to turn inward.
Your last call to finally make self-care and self-healing a priority so that you can then live a majestic menopausal life, which by the way is a big chunk of your life.
This does not mean turning your family away and quitting your job – even though you might feel like it and might end up doing some serious house clean there.
It means establishing healthy habits that allow you to support your body, tune in and attend to your core needs. All while not getting distracted by every single thing around you.
Strategy n. 6 to reduce perimenopause symptoms: establish a healthy night-time routine
You might experience night sweets and have difficulties falling and/or staying asleep due to the sex hormonal changes happening in your body and decrease of the hormone melatonin.
Changes in melatonin levels can cause a wide range of effects, because this hormone acts as an orchestrating regulator of numerous physiological and cell biological functions.
Having a night-time ritual to shut down your day activity and having a sleep supportive routine can have a positive effect on these symptoms.
Here are the pillars of a sleep-supportive night routine:
– Switch off all electronic devices at least 2 hours before going to bed and maintain low lighting
– Go to bed by 10 pm
– Sleep in a cool, dark room
– Leave your phone outside your bedroom
Another important aspect of night routine is the unwinding phase as we move from active mode into resting mode.
Establish a relaxation routine that allows you to unwind before going to bed can make the difference.
This might include:
– A closing ritual such as an end-of-the-day journaling where you look back at your day and you write down how far you have come and one thing you are grateful for
– Reading a book
– Relaxing yoga asanas (postures) practice
– Soothing pranayama practice
– Conscious relaxation in Savasana
Extra tip: you can use relaxing yoga asanas, soothing pranayama and Savasana to calm down if you find yourself fully awake at 4 am or to to reduce intensity and duration of night sweats.
Strategy n. 7 to reduce perimenopause symptoms: keep your body’s natural clock running properly
The other side of good sleep is a great morning routine.
The rhythmic pattern of melatonin release from the pineal gland is tightly synchronized with our circadian rhythm (whose period is about 24 h) of wake/sleep through the master circadian pacemaker located in the suprachiasmatic nuclei. Melatonin release varies with the seasons too, increasing in the darker months of the year.
This is synchronised to the solar day via light input from the eyes.
Darkness detected by the eye prompts the pineal gland to produce melatonin while light causes that production to stop.
Other hormones like cortisol, TSH and prolactin vary across the 24 h and can be both affected by sleep and have a role in sleep quality.
Exposure to natural sunlight in the morning time contributes to the body’s natural clock proper functioning.
I advice you to spend at least 60 minutes outdoors daily, better if during the morning and without sunglasses, to support healthy melatonin and other hormones production. Depending on where you live and the season of the year, you will have to adapt your routine to make sure you don’t expose yourself to too intense direct sunlight without sunglasses. And always use a SPF cream to protect your skin.
Strategy n. 8 to reduce perimenopause symptoms: ditch the alcohol
Alcohol increases mast cell activation and histamine.
Histamines are chemicals your immune system makes to help your body get rid of something. They travel though the body through blood vessels and have an influence on a number of processes.
Histamine increases oestrogen production by the ovaries and oestrogen naturally increases histamine production. A vicious cycle that increases your perimenopausal symptoms.
Moreover histamine act as a neurotransmitter and it helps regulate important brain functions. When in excess can increase anxious and/or depressive feelings.
So you see, even though the occasional booze might sound tempting and you might think it can make you more relaxed, truth is our body feels different about it.
There is no doubt this is not like sipping a cup of tea.
You might be thinking “hey, she’s telling me to turn my life upside down!”
But look at it this way: isn’t it already upside down?
Then you might end up with the life you deserve.
Remember this is not medical advice but information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure. Please talk to your doctor before making any health-related decision.