Image shows the title Stress, the adrenals and perimenopause

Stress, The Adrenals & Perimenopause

By the time most Women connect with me, they have no energy reserves left, they have hit the wall. They have generally been through long periods of chronic stress or illness and while their bodies may have initially adapted to the increased stress, it was  only a matter of time before their bodies became overwhelmed.

Our bodies don’t have the reserves to continue pumping stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol at that pace forever. Sooner or later what goes up, must come down.

We always associate stress with outside factors like emotional stress, but stress can also come from within. Surgeries, nutrient depletions (post pregnancy, from medications or illnesses, increased demand), food allergies and intolerances and basically all health conditions are a stress on the body. It is important to always look at the full picture when you find yourself depleted and this is what I do with my clients also by putting together a time line of all factors that may have contributed to their crash.

There is a saying “If you do what you have always done, you will get what you’ve always got”. In a nutshell if the way you were living life got you into a depleted state, it is not going to get you out of it. 

I will probably repeat this again but more likely then not it is in your lifestyle where the biggest changes need to be made. We will cover that more below.

 

What happens during stress?


Stress starts in the brain, which sends a signal to the adrenal glands, to create stress hormones. Our adrenals are little grape sized glands which sit on top of our kidneys and are the producers of our stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol.

Sometimes the signals are also picked up by our other glands as well, such as our thyroid and ovaries. This is one of the reasons why stress has such a systemic effect, interrupting many body processes.

All of our organs need to be well nourished to work correctly and when we are stressed we are burning up more of our resources (vitamins and minerals) then we are putting back in.

What is the link to Perimenopause?

During perimenopause, as our ovaries slow production of sex hormones like progesterone and then estrogen our adrenal glands can offer us a buffer which helps to make the transition smoother.  

If you hit perimenopause in that space which I have just detailed, you are going to have a harder time.  

The good news is that there is always something you can do.  No matter your age or stage you will benefit from knowing this info and taking measures to nourish your adrenal health.  

 

Get your bounce back.

I can guide you on nutrition, testing, lifestyle and supplements to help you build  physical resilience to stress and get more energy however – You can not underestimate the importance of lifestyle practices in recovery from chronic stress.

It is important you work on finding balance in all aspects of life.

Identifying how you got to where you are, is the first step in making sure you don’t return.

Healthy Boundaries

You do not have to be superwoman. If you are continuously running yourself ragged, then you will keep going around in circles here. You are healing and you need boundaries. Sure if people are used to you always saying yes, some won’t like it when you suddenly start saying no but it really is an investment in your health.

Often the people who react when you instill health boundaries have not seen healthy boundaries expressed. Maybe their parents also lacked boundaries? It is your job to look after yourself. Whenever you do first aid training you are told to ensure your own safety first as you are no good to anyone if you get hurt. Well apply that concept to your life. Look after your needs and conserve your energy first, then you can assist others with your overflow.

A time to take it down a notch

You are probably going to have to slow down a lot more then you want to. You would not walk non stop on a broken leg and expect it to heal. You can’t expect to recover from chronic stress when you are constantly pumping out stress hormones.

Relying on caffeine or sugar to get through the day will only make things worse in the long run. Make sure you get your meals balanced so you don’t need so many pick me ups.  I have created a guide on this that you can print out and put on your fridge. Get the balanced meal planner for  hormonal harmony guide here.  Balanced blood sugars and healthy meals will be a big part of the healing process.

Move your body, but not too intensely

Restorative exercise should be the focus when you are in a depleted state – Yes you can and should exercise, but it’s really not a great time for you to be signing up for marathons to be honest.

Walking in nature combined with yoga are my top choices at this stage. Both aid fitness and recovery by helping you clear your mind while you connect with your body and yoga has the ever important focus on breathing – Hot Tip – deep breathing dials your stress response right down.  If you remember what I wrote in the stress and magnesium blog – if our body has a primatve stress response where it thinks we need to fight or run, breathing deep tells your body the danger has passed.  You would not stop and breathe deeply if you were still fighting/being chased.

If your current exercise regime is not leaving you feeling amazing or giving you the results you expect, then it is time to reassess. For now anyway, consider this period an investment in your future health.  I would make sure you do some weight bearing exercise though especially if you are perimenopausal.

Breathe

Ok I just touched on this but I need to drive it home – Breathe baby – Our body’s have not really fully adapted to modern stress in many ways. When we start pumping out stress hormones in our normal day to day lives, from sitting in traffic or whatever sets off our stress hormones, our body goes into fight or flight mode to prepare us to run from danger. Our body is trying to protect us and it does not want to be focusing on reproduction or digestion when in danger. Our body will instead focus on short term survival and helping us to run away from danger.

The problem with chronic daily stress is that we are not in danger, and we may actually want to relax, digest our food and reproduce (or just have normal hormonal function). One of the fastest ways we can communicate to our bodies that we are ok, and the ‘danger’ has passed is to breathe deeply.

Moving Forward

Stress is not in itself an entirely bad thing. A bit of stress helps us meet deadlines and get stuff done. The problems occur when our bodies do not have the resources (vitamins and minerals for example) to call upon or when we stay in that state chronically and do not make the effort to ‘switch off’ and replenish. The key is mixing in the calm.

I hope this has helped. I will list a few other blogs below that you might find helpful and remember if you want a personalised plan to get you better faster you can check out my services here and see how I can help you.

Magnesium & Stress

Balancing Blood sugars (insulin resistance – important especially during perimenopause)

Causes of hormone imbalance

Top Tips for Blood sugar balance

 

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Julie McGill

Perimenopausal mother to 4 and holistic clinical nutritionist helping women thrive through perimenopause, naturally.

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Image of Julie McGill Holistic Nutritionist
Hi, I'm Julie

I help Women thrive through perimenopause, naturally.  I’m a qualified & holistic clinical nutritionist, mum to 4 and also navigating my way through second puberty.

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