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Why You Feel More Stressed in Perimenopause

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Have you noticed feeling more stressed or less resilient to day-to-day stressors that you used to handle just fine?

It’s not just in your head - let me explain why women in perimenopause have a higher base level of stress (cortisol) and therefore lose tolerance to dealing with stressors or are less resilient than they used to be….

You remember that progesterone is one of your first hormones to decline? Yes, and when your ovaries make less or no more progesterone, your adrenal glands are your backup gland that’s taking over the progesterone production (also testosterone by the way). 

Wait: what are the adrenal glands? Your adrenals are two tiny (walnut-sized) glands located right above your kidneys. These glands manage stress and produce the hormone cortisol, which is also known as your “stress” hormone. The more stress you have (if you feel it or not), the more cortisol your adrenals will produce. 

But they do much more than that - they:

  • have a role in regulating mineral and fluid volume

  • assist in regulating the inflammatory process

  • help to balance blood sugar

  • they assist with rebuilding and tissue repair

  • have a critical role with sex hormone production 

  • function as anti-aging glands

  • have an important role in regulating our mood

  • can have an impact on a decreased amount of thyroid stimulating hormone production and inhibit the conversion of inactive T4 to active T3.

Lower levels of progesterone also mean that you have a higher baseline level of cortisol (your stress hormone that’s also produced by the adrenal glands). 

Let me say that again: when your progesterone goes down, your cortisol goes up!

This is why you may perceive everyday stressors as more intense and overwhelming.

Stress doesn't always mean too much work and appointments though. There are four types of stress that cause adrenal dysregulation (and hormone imbalance):

  1. Emotional stress: work, financial worries, kids, relationships….

  2. Physical stress: exercise, traveling, time zone changes, bad sleep, not resting enough: Hormonal changes can lead to insomnia and disrupted sleep patterns, which in turn affect mood, cognitive function, and emotional resilience. Chronic sleep deprivation exacerbates feelings of stress and reduces the ability to cope with daily challenges effectively. And let’s not forget the physical symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and general fatigue, add another layer of stress. These symptoms can be physically exhausting and disruptive.

  3. Chemical stress: exposure to toxins (environment, home, work, food, water….)

  4. Mental stress: lack of purpose, misalignment of values…Many women struggle with changes in their identity and self-perception during this period of hormone transition. Societal attitudes towards aging and menopause can be stigmatizing, leading to feelings of isolation and inadequacy. This lack of support, combined with potential gaps in personal support networks, can leave women feeling alone in their experiences, further increasing stress and reducing resilience.

And there’s actually other sources of stress, that we are often not aware of:

  • Blood sugar imbalance and nutrient deficiencies

  • Chronic (underlying) infections (that you may not even know you have like Epstein-Barr virus, Lyme disease, gut infections & mold or other toxicity), but also autoimmune conditions and cancer.⁠

  • ⁠Childhood trauma and trauma in general has a deep impact on your physical and mental wellbeing

  • ⁠The things you may not even consider stressful in your day-to-day life, like:⁠

  • That intense spinning or Crossfit class 

  • Skipping or delaying meals 

  • Coffee first thing in the morning on an empty stomach

  • The glass of wine you have at night to destress from work 

  • EMF (electromagnetic frequency) exposure from your cell phone and laptop⁠

  • The streetlight that shines in your bedroom window at night or the light-emitting devices in your bedroom. ⁠

So how can you support your body to resist that stress?

In times of stress your body burns through large supplies of vitamin C, magnesium, B vitamins (especially B5 & B6) and zinc. So these are some nutrients you need to consume much more of to support your body in dealing with all that stress. 

There’s also specific plants that support adrenal recovery and balanced hormones:

  • Rhodiola

  • Cordyceps

  • Ginseng 

  • Licorice

  • Ashwagandha

My favorite blend is Adrenal Nutrients from Seeking Health: it has Vitamin C, Zinc, Vitamin B5 and all of the herbs mentioned above. I’ve seen a good increase in my energy when taking 3 capsules just after lunch or around 2PM and I’ve also seen it benefit my sleep aka sleeping more deeply. 

The time to act is when you’re in perimenopause, not only in menopause. By the time we get to menopause it’s too late in the game. 

Menopause is getting a lot more attention now in mainstream media which makes me really happy, but we’re still not talking enough about perimenopause. 

Don’t wait until your hormone levels are tanked and you are dealing with serious health issues and feel like crap: make yourself a priority NOW!

Nourish your body. Prioritize sleep and day rest. Move your body. 

If you don’t know where to start, download my adrenal guide to getting your energy back here


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