Menopause is a time when many women feel run down and fatigued. Part of the problem is the increased perception of stress and another part is the decrease in restful sleep that comes with menopause.
Stress reduction techniques can reduce the fatigue seen in menopause. Exercises like guided imagery, meditation, qi gong, and tai chi can also reduce stress so you have more energy as well as increased mental clarity.
Fatigue can be managed by having better sleep habits. This will help you go to sleep when you are tired and can keep you sleeping longer. Some good sleep habits include the following:
- Use your bedroom for sleep and sex only. Do not use your bed for watching television.
- Sleep in a dark and quiet environment. Use dark shades if it is still light out when you go to bed.
- Use a white noise machine if there is a lot of ambient noise. This can soothe your nerves and can help you fall asleep more easily.
- Exercise about five hours before going to sleep. Do not exercise right before bedtime as this can be activating and can interfere with falling asleep.
- Do not eat a big meal before bedtime. Eat at least 3 hours before falling asleep so your body has a chance to digest the food you eat before bedtime.
- Do not smoke before sleeping, as this can be overly stimulating.
- Do not drink alcohol just before sleep. While alcohol is technically a depressant, it will not help you fall asleep.
- Don’t be afraid to take naps during the day. A nap of even twenty minutes can fight fatigue and can get you through the rest of the day. Set an alarm if you are afraid you might nap for too long as this can make it hard to fall asleep at night.
- If fatigue is a problem and sleep is difficult, talk to your doctor about a short course of a medication that can help you sleep. There are several sleep preparations that can be prescribed, some of which are not addictive.
Stress can increase the frequency and intensity of hot flashes. Anything you can do to reduce your level of stress will help you feel better during this time of your life. If the stress has reached a level to where you are anxious, your doctor can prescribe anti-anxiety medications that will reduce your perception of stress. Some of these anxiolytic agents include Valium, clonazepam, Ativan, and Xanax.
There are natural ways of reducing stress:
- Aerobic exercises like running, jogging, walking, swimming, and cycling can reduce stress. Exercise should ideally be done for thirty minutes a day on most days of the week.
- Anaerobic exercise, such as weight machines and lifting weights can be done about twice a week to increase muscle tone and lessen your stress.
- You can also practice meditation or guided imagery in order to reduce stress. In meditation, you focus on breathing and on progressively relaxing your muscles so you are in a completely relaxed state. This can be done sitting up in a comfortable position or lying down on your bed or on a mat. In guided imagery, you focus on your breath and imagine yourself in a peaceful location, focusing on the sights, sounds, and smells of being in that location. You can take yourself there whenever you feel you are under stress in order to reduce your perception of stress.
- Yoga, tai chi, and QiGong are wonderful mind-body exercises to relieve stress.
- Massage, a spa day, or even a weekend in nature can do wonders to reduce stress levels.
- Some people get rid of their stress by de-stressing their lives. When you do this, you tackle those things that negatively affect the stress in your life. This might mean getting rid of a stressful job, managing a stressful relationship, or handling stressful finances.
- Take up a hobby that reduces the impact of stress on your life.
- Make yourself a priority; make sure to relax several times per day.