by Shirley Weir (from Autumn issue of LivePure Journal)
Increased work-life demands during a pandemic means that, never before, have women felt the stress and pressure to keep so many proverbial balls in the air.
From financial insecurity to home schooling, work stress to relationships, health and family responsibilities, women are in an unprecedented tug-of-war between taking care of themselves while taking care of everyone else.
And who is the driver’s seat as we navigate these never-ending lists of concerns? Cortisol.
Ten years ago, I did not understand this connection. Although I was not navigating the stress of a pandemic.
I was in my early 40s, burning the candle at both ends, managing a business, two young kids, and the health of my aging mother. I really wanted to point a finger at something, so I picked perimenopause.
But what I learned was this — it was critical for me to understand the role of unmanaged stress, and how disruptive it was to every system in my body — from sleep to digestion to sexual desire and more.
I learned this from Dr. Bal Pawa, a NAMS (North American Menopause Society) certified physician, pharmacist, Harvard-trained mind-body expert, co-founder of the West Coast Women’s Clinic, and author of the just released, The Mind-Body Cure.
Dr. Pawa helped me to connect the dots between my physical complaints and the stress in my life.
When I’m sleep deprived, it affects my mood, my ability to exercise, and it was most likely the root cause of debilitating brain fog.
And when I’m feeling anxious, it could be lack of sleep, lack of exercise, or both. It’s a vicious circle!
“Women often want to blame estrogen and progesterone,” says Pawa. “But what we are failing to tell women is that if we can’t manage our stress (our cortisol hormone), we are going to have a harder time with our female hormones — that’s the big connection!”
So, have I mastered this? Absolutely not. And mastery is not the goal; more awareness, education and conversation definitely is.
I believe understanding the role of stress is essential to helping women navigate their perimenopause-to-menopause journey with more confidence and ease.
It was her personal perimenopause journey that led Shirley Weir to creating Menopause Chicks, the popular social-learning platform that currently connects 25,000 women to quality health education & information, women’s health experts, and to each other. She is the author of MOKITA: How to navigate perimenopause with confidence and ease. MenopauseChicks.com.