7 ways to cope with anger during the menopause
We all get angry from time to time. But, if you’re struggling with constant ups and downs and you’re of menopausal age, then chances are it’s because you’re experiencing hormone fluctuations. Falling levels of estrogen during the perimenopause and the menopause can cause hormone imbalances, which can lead to feelings of acute anger and irritation.
“Much like with puberty, variations in estrogen and serotonin levels can cause irritability and mood swings,” explains Katherine Berry, menopause expert, acupuncturist and author of Menopause: A Comprehensive Guide for Practitioners.
Mood swings not only impact the people around us – they can also make us feel uncertain and anxious. Thankfully, there are a number of ways we can manage our anger better.
7 ways to cope with anger during menopause
“Alcohol and menopause do not mix,” says Katherine. “Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and by slowing down the body and lowering the rate of arousal, it helps with relaxation. However, alcohol is like throwing fuel on the fire when it comes to menopause.”
You might love an evening tipple to help you relax after a stressful workday, but it’s worth reconsidering whether that glass of red is really worth it if you find yourself getting angry easily.
“Reducing alcohol intake not only improves mood, but it also has an immediate benefit on improving quality and duration of sleep, which positively influences the rest and recovery function of the parasympathetic nervous system,” adds Katherine.
Try breathing exercises
Taking a deep breath helps us handle difficult situations when they arise, but actively incorporating more breathing exercises into your routine can help you cope with stressful situations and anger outbursts quickly and effectively.
A study from the Journal of Cognition and Emotion showed that different emotions are associated with different forms of breathing, so, consequently, changing how we breathe can change how we feel.
To stimulate the vagus nerve (the nerve that impacts our heart rate, speech and mood) take several slow and deep breaths, taking care to exhale for longer than the amount of time you inhale. Liz is also a fan of Sensate – a handy device that helps to stimulate the vagus nerve, encouraging relaxation and reducing anxiety. Use the discount code LIZLOVES for £30 off your order at Sensate.
Give acupuncture a go
Acupuncture is a certified therapeutic method often used within TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). Many people find it effective for helping to combat anxiety and manage stress.
“By inserting fine needles into points located all over the body, acupuncture switches on the part of the brain responsible for digestion, tissue healing and enhancing the immune system,” says Katherine. “Acupuncture balances out the ‘flight/fight’ response of the sympathetic nervous system. In short, acupuncture helps you calm down, sleep better, and cope with frustration and reduces fits of rage.”
Utilise essential oils
Essential oils are a great natural way to help you manage your response to stressful situations. Research shows that inhaling fir oil can help with stress management and relaxation. Other essential oils that are well-known for their relaxation benefits include lavender, rose, and bergamot.
Tweak your diet
Our body goes through huge physical and mental changes during midlife. As Katherine explains, adapting your diet and creating nourishing meals can help you alleviate symptoms.
“As well as limiting processed and fried foods, it is important to adjust portion size and calorie intake according to physical activity levels to avoid menopause weight gain,” says Katherine. “Not only are plant-based foods, such as lentils and beans, a good source of low-calorie nutrition, but they also provide you with plenty of fibre.
“Eating 6-8 portions of vegetables, 1-2 portions of starchy vegetables, and 1-2 pieces of whole fruit daily is ideal. Women of menopausal age should increase their protein intake to 30–40g per meal, with a focus on lean protein, such as chicken, fish, legumes, and whole grains. Whole grains are also a good source of carbohydrates and provide a steadier supply of energy than their processed counterparts.”
Find out more about the foods that can help support you during the menopause.
Take care of yourself
Understanding the reasons behind your anger is key to helping manage it. Keeping an eye out for ‘Red Flag Moments’, such as road rage, arguments with your spouse or work conflicts, can help create self-awareness and deal with those stressful situations better. In fact, simply monitoring your breathing, noticing tension in your body and taking time out to process your thoughts and feelings can help restore calm.
If you’re experiencing frequent menopause-related mood swings, it might be worth considering Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). NICE menopause guidelines state that HRT should be considered as a treatment for low moods that arise as a result of the menopause. To find out more about the benefits of HRT, read Liz’s guide, The Truth about HRT.