This is the second post in my 5-part series where I answer “The Top 5 Questions Every Woman in (or near) Her 40s Should Be Asking about Her Hormones and Her Overall Health.”
Today I will be answering the question: “What can I do NOW, in the earlier stages, to help ease the hormonal transitions that lie ahead?“
The previous post explained how perimenopause is a natural, normal phase of life that lasts about 5-10 years before your period ends. If you missed that, you can read Post 1 Here.
Thankfully women these days talk more, and know a lot more, about menopause than we used to. However, this “peri” phase still catches too many women by surprise, and without many tools or resources.
I hope this series helps you to be more informed, and raises your awareness that NOW is the time to get your self-care on track!
THE POWER OF SELF-CARE
Your diet and lifestyle choices during your 40s sets the stage for your health in the years and decades ahead. Many of the women that I’ve helped over the years have had significant improvements from changes in what I call the Four Cornerstones of Health: nutrition, fitness, sleep and stress management. While supplements, herbs or bioidentical hormones may have their place when needed, don’t underestimate the power of your self-care habits.
This is an important time in your life to get in shape, eat your protein, good fats and veggies, get your stress under control, and get the sleep that you know you’ve been needing. These “simple” steps will improve your health in profound ways. Effects such as a stronger immune system, better insulin responsiveness, and less inflammation in your body will help you to prevent the 3 major causes of death in our country: cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
START WITH YOUR ADRENALS
When it comes to balancing your hormones specifically, the #1 key is to optimize your ADRENAL HEALTH. As you go into menopause and beyond, your ovaries decrease their production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. At the same time, the adrenals are actually able to step in and produce a smaller amount of those hormones for you!
However, if your adrenals have burned out from chronic stress, they will be sluggish and won’t be able to produce the hormones you need. The good news is that they are capable of recovering!
Improving your self-care and shifting your lifestyle habits can help you restore your adrenals and help your hormone system be more resilient to whatever may lie ahead.
Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, is the main hormone produced by your adrenals, and it helps to regulate your 24-hr circadian rhythm. In the morning, your cortisol level increases to help you get up and go. Over the day it tapers down, then drops at night to allow you to get a calm and restorative night’s sleep.
You can support that rhythm with daily habits such as getting up at the same time every morning, doing your more vigorous exercise early in the day, eating healthy meals at regular times, keeping your blood sugar stable throughout the day, and having a relaxing bedtime routine (with no screens) that allows you to get 8 hours of sleep before your chosen wake time. There may be many other things that you’ve heard you “should” be doing, but the ones I’ve just mentioned are the ones I’ve seen make the biggest difference for my patients. These are the “small hinges that swing big doors” and are really worth doing.
Of course, you also need to take a close look at what is causing your stress and take steps to reduce it where you can, and decrease the effects that stress is having on you. If that all sounds like a pipe dream, take it a step at a time. Figure out what you *can* do and gradually make changes that allow you to restore your natural rhythms.
KNOW YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Another thing that I’ve found so important for my perimenopausal patients is to know that the symptoms they are experiencing are actually fairly common.
We need to talk about this more as a society, but in the meantime try to connect with other women who are also going through perimenopause. While your journey will always be unique, it can really help to hear other stories, learn what has helped others, and share and support each other.
If you don’t get caught in information overload, you can definitely find some help online. I also suggest reading books and other sources to learn more about all the changes that can happen. You will feel more confident about the whole process as you build your knowledge base and learn about self help strategies.
Because I know how important it is to be informed and to have connection with other like-minded women, I’m excited to invite you to….
If you are local to the Bay Area and want to go deeper or could use more support, CLICK HERE to learn more about my upcoming 6-month group program, starting in January 2016. I will be guiding you step-by-step as you learn the most effective natural strategies for balancing your hormones and optimizing your overall health. Plus, you will connect with a like-minded group of women who totally get what you are going through and will be there to support you on your journey.
We’ll meet just once a month, on a Sunday afternoon, for our circle and discussion, plus a special guest activity such as yoga, dance, pilates or art. The rest of the program is flexible so you can get the help you need at a pace that fits into your busy life!
Get all the details and register here ===> www.DrAmyDay.com/
This 5-part series will be answering your top questions about hormones and overall health, and will teach you many tips about taking care of yourself to stay healthy for the years and decades ahead. Keep an eye out for the next post soon!