perimenopauseDid you know that April is “National Stress Awareness Month,” ladies? Yeah, I know. As if you weren’t already aware of all the stress in your life as it is, right? Because, let’s face it, nothing says stress to a woman suffering from hormone imbalance in perimenopause like mood swings, night sweats, hot flashes, and crashing fatigue!

Sponsored by the Health Resources Network (HRN), National Stress Awareness month is a month when healthcare professionals and experts join together to raise public awareness of stress, the dangers of stress, and to provide successful coping strategies.

Personally, I would love it if we could have a “National Perimenopause Awareness” month. Because if anybody needs successful coping strategies for stress, it is women going through perimenopause. But, then, I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth. Any time healthcare professionals join together to raise awareness of the dangers of stress, it’s definitely a good day. Or in this case, a good month.

If it will also provide an opportunity to draw attention to the stress of perimenopause, well, then, that’s even better. Maybe one day we’ll have our very own “National Perimenopause Awareness” month. But, until then, let’s carpe diem and make the best out of the opportunities we have.

Are you going through perimenopause? Are you stressed? Then “Happy National Stress Awareness Month” ladies, and here’s 5 things you should know:

1 You’re Not Going Crazy – I haven’t met a woman yet who didn’t think she was going crazy in perimenopause. In fact, I am certain that these feelings contribute as much to the stress of perimenopause, as the actual symptoms themselves. If you have thought you are slowly losing your sanity along with your estrogen and progesterone, rest your mind. You’re not going crazy. It only feels that way.

2 Regular Daily Exercise is Your Friend – It’s a fact. Nothing beats stress better than physical exercise, especially if it takes place outdoors. It can be as simple as walking moderately for half an hour a day to stimulate the release of endorphins and serotonin, two brain chemicals which improve mood, promote relaxation, and reduce stress. The great thing about walking is that it doesn’t require any special skill. All you have to do is place one foot in front of the other. No fancy equipment or gym membership required.

3 Don’t Forget to Eat – When we are stressed it’s easy to skip meals, or worse, to grab something quick like a sugary granola bar or bowl of cereal. And quite frankly, women are usually the first to skip meals when they are stressed. But nothing will increase stress in your body like sharp spikes and drops in blood sugar. Eating regular meals is essential for managing stress in perimenopause. Protein, complex carbohydrates, and a balance of “good fats”, will help stabilize blood sugar, improve your mood, and enable you to relax. Simple, I know. But it really works.

4 Sleep, Sleep, & More Sleep – I know. It’s the great conundrum. How does a woman likely suffering from insomnia in perimenopause sleep more? I mean, you would if you could, right? Yes, you would, and you should. You should make sleep one of your top priorities. Right up there with eating and that daily walk you should be taking every day too. Here’s the thing: if you’re eating regularly, and exercising regularly, you will sleep better. And if you’re sleeping better, you absolutely will be less stressed.

5 It’s Okay to Say “No” – Developing the ability to say no just might be the single most important thing you can do for yourself to manage stress in perimenopause. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most difficult things for most women to do. As a reformed “people pleaser” I know firsthand how difficult it is to put your needs first. But if there is ever a time when you should put your needs first, it is during perimenopause. Boundaries which protect your wellbeing are boundaries worth placing. And when it comes to reducing stressing in perimenopause, a well-spoken “no” is the perfect medicine.

Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women’s health and a women’s freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.