Are you a vic­tim of Rush­ing Woman’s Syn­drome?

That’s what a new book calls the modern malaise of al­ways be­ing ‘busy, busy, busy’ — and says it makes the menopause WORSE

Daily Mail - - Inspire - by Dr Libby Weaver

ASK your mother about her menopause and she’ll prob­a­bly shrug and say it just hap­pened, so why is it our gen­er­a­tion finds it so hard?

From the fizzing anx­i­ety, mood swings and foggy head that ap­pear in your 40s right through to the crash­ing sweats, sleep­less­ness and diet- de­fy­ing weight gain that fol­low in your 50s — it’s rare to es­cape this mid-life phase un­scathed.

The an­swer, I am con­vinced, is the rise of Rush­ing Woman’s syn­drome. These days, women strug­gle to jug­gle fam­i­lies, ca­reer and the chaos of life, op­er­at­ing in a per­ma­nent state of stress that leaves our hor­mones in tur­moil.

Now, with mo­bile phones ring­ing, ping­ing and vi­brat­ing 24/7, there’s no true ‘down time’. Week­ends are no longer ring-fenced for recre­ation, con­nec­tion, gar­den­ing, or re­flec­tion, be­cause work emails and so­cial me­dia con­tin­u­ally in­ter­ject. This re­lent­less bar­rage in­stills a state of mild panic that our ner­vous sys­tems aren’t de­signed to han­dle.

As a nu­tri­tional bio­chemist, I have wit­nessed the im­pact that a con­stant state of rush­ing has on women’s health and an­a­lysed the bio­chem­i­cal ef­fects of al­ways be­ing in a hurry.

I have dis­cov­ered that its im­pact is sig­nif­i­cant and that Rush­ing Women will all too of­ten be set­ting them­selves up for a very bumpy ride in menopause and be­yond. But there are things you can do — read on to find out how you can stop the syn­drome in its tracks.

ARE YOU A RUSH­ING WOMAN?

YOU know you’ve got RWs if your in­stinc­tive an­swer to ‘ how are you?’ is ‘ busy’ or ‘stressed’; if you rarely get enough sleep, make poor food choices, rely on cof­fee to rev you up in the morn­ing and wine to calm you down at night.

You drive too fast and, afraid to let any­one down, will do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to avoid say­ing ‘no’, squeez­ing ev­ery last drop out of your day, even if it means an­swer­ing emails in the early hours of the morn­ing.

For so many women today, rush­ing is the new nor­mal. You might not think you’re par­tic­u­larly har­ried, but your liver, gall blad­der, kid­neys, adrenal glands, thy­roid, ovaries, uterus, brain and di­ges­tive sys­tem cer­tainly do.

And it can all make for an ap­pallingly dif­fi­cult menopause.

Women’s bod­ies are built to adapt to the nat­u­ral drop in the sex hor­mones oe­stro­gen and pro­ges­terone that oc­curs in mid-life.

our fat cells take over the pro­duc­tion of oe­stro­gen (in small amounts) and the adrenal glands

should send out a con­stant trickle of pro­ges­terone.

It’s less than we might have been used to, but it’s some­thing.

How­ever, if you’ve spent the years lead­ing up to this point on full alert, your adrenal glands, also charged with the task of pro­duc­ing stress hor­mones, can be­come over­whelmed and ex­hausted and give up on pro­ges­terone pro­duc­tion.

If your adrenals have not been mak­ing de­cent amounts of pro­ges­terone for decades, there’s no rea­son they will do so dur­ing the menopause when you need it.

In the cor­rect bal­ance, the hor­mones oe­stro­gen and pro­ges- terone are won­der­ful sub­stances that give you en­ergy and vi­tal­ity. But if they are out of bal­ance, they can wreak havoc.

Few sub­stances can im­pact on our body the way sex hor­mones do, es­pe­cially when it comes to main­tain­ing a sense of calm, men­tal clar­ity and the abil­ity to be pa­tient and main­tain per­spec­tive.

They also have an ef­fect on our weight. A good sup­ply of pro­ges­terone is es­sen­tial if you are to ac­cess fat re­serves to burn for en­ergy.

With in­suf­fi­cient pro­ges­terone, your body will pre­fer to burn glu­cose as a fuel, not fat, no mat­ter how hard you diet and ex­er­cise.

If you’re rush­ing around, oe­stro­gen and the stress hor­mone cor­ti­sol are telling your body to store fat, but you will have lost the coun­ter­bal­anc­ing hor­mone (pro­ges­terone).

Given that pro­ges­terone is an anti-anx­i­ety agent, an anti-de­pres­sant and a di­uretic (it al­lows us to get rid of ex­cess fluid), its lev­els are vi­tal to how we feel and func­tion each day. It’s bad enough try­ing to cope with ex­ac­er­bated hor­monal fluc­tu­a­tions that RWs can trig­ger dur­ing your per­i­menopausal 40s, but stress can make things so much worse when menopause does fi­nally ar­rive — and you are very likely to feel that loss of pro­ges­terone even more sorely.

Rush­ing women of­ten ex­pe­ri­ence a de­bil­i­tat­ing menopause be­cause they go from a healthy sup­ply of sex hor­mones to a crash­ing dearth seem­ingly overnight.

It is cru­cial to sort things out in good time. Your mid-life an­ti­dote com­prises small steps to change the way you eat, ex­er­cise, live, think and be­have.

FROM RUSH TO CALM: HAPPY STRESS FIX

WHAT­EVER your age or stage of life, there is so much you can do to re­verse the Rush­ing Woman chem­i­cal cas­cade to ease your path through the menopause nat­u­rally. Your main aim should be to re­duce your out­put of stress hor­mones so that your body can re­turn to its own, nat­u­ral hor­monal bal­ance.

STOP RUN­NING

WOMEN can gain any­thing from 5lb to two stone in ex­tra weight dur­ing the menopause, and it is com­pletely un­der­stand­able to want to try to run harder and faster in a bid to burn calo­ries and lose weight.

But vig­or­ous ex­er­cise which pushes your body to its limit is not the best op­tion for you.

It will only fur­ther in­crease your phys­i­o­log­i­cal stress load and make you more likely to gain weight than lose it. When your body is con­stantly re­ceiv­ing the mes­sage that your life is in dan­ger and that you must be pre­pared to run or fight at any moment, it won’t want to use fat as fuel.

If run­ning or high-in­ten­sity ex­er­cise (com­bined with nu­tri­tious eat­ing) hasn’t shifted your weight by now, it is not sud­denly go­ing to start do­ing so. Calm­ing down is the first step. So switch to gen­tle forms of ex­er­cise, prefer­ably one done slowly with a fo­cus on breath­ing. only when you have calmed your stress re­sponse can your body switch to burn­ing fat for fuel.

Yoga, for in­stance, has been shown to take the ner­vous sys­tem out of the flight-or-fight re­sponse, giv­ing a re­lax­ing and calm­ing ef­fect. It is great for when you feel weak, fa­tigued, or stressed, and it’s the best way to help re­bal­ance hor­mones.

The cru­cial cri­te­ria is that your ex­er­cise should make you feel good and al­low your body to re­main highly func­tional through the age­ing process — if it tones your mus­cles and chis­els your waist, too, con­sider it a bonus.

TAKE A WINE BREAK

IF YOU suf­fer from PMS or menopausal prob­lems, I rec­om­mend tak­ing a four-week break from al­co­hol, or, at the very least, cut­ting back to drink­ing only two nights a week.

It’s not just the sugar and calo­ries that can ex­ac­er­bate symp­toms, but reg­u­lar drink­ing, even in mod­er­a­tion, puts a stress on your liver as it works tire­lessly to metabolise the al­co­hol.

As you near the start of the menopause, your liver has to ful­fil a highly im­por­tant func­tion of clear­ing out old and ex­cess hor­mones, which makes it an im­por­tant or­gan for keep­ing the lev­els of sex hor­mones as bal­anced as pos­si­ble.

TRY SPINAL TOUCH

BOOK a ses­sion with a chi­ro­prac­tor. many can per­form a prac­tice called net­work Spinal Anal­y­sis (NSA), in­volv­ing gen­tle, pre­cise touch to the spine which cues the brain to cre­ate ‘well­ness pro­mot­ing strate­gies’. Just one ses­sion can be enough to trig­ger a spon­ta­neous re­lease of ten­sion, help­ing to re­align the spine and en­hance well­be­ing.

ADD ‘REAL FOOD’

even if you sur­vive on fast food and ready meals, aim to eat one more ‘real food’ meal, drink or snack a week.

If you eat 35 times a week (that’s three main meals and two snacks ev­ery day) and you are cur­rently aim­ing to eat healthily at least once a day, that’s seven out of the 35.

But if you com­mit to adding just one more healthy ‘real food’ meal, drink or snack into the mix ev­ery week, you’ll be at 14 or 15 out of 35 within a cou­ple of months and you will have dou­bled the amount of nu­tri­ents that you are eat­ing.

HERBAL SUP­PORT

CON­SIDER tak­ing a vi­ta­min sup­ple­ment con­tain­ing vi­ta­mins B and C for adrenal sup­port, plus cer­tain herbs are thought to help sup­port adrenal func­tion.

The fol­low­ing adrenal herbs are par­tic­u­larly good at help­ing the body adapt to stress by fine-tun­ing the stress re­sponse.

If you’re a wor­rier, try Witha­nia. If you know you can be a bit of a drama queen, add a rho­di­ola sup­ple­ment to your rou­tine.

for fluid re­ten­tion try ex­tract of dan­de­lion, and if you’re sim­ply ex­hausted then give Siberian Gin­seng a go.

(A.vo­gel prod­ucts are closely reg­u­lated and made from fresh herbs and you can get per­son­alised sup­port from a health ad­viser at avo­gel.co.uk).

START A JOUR­NAL

BUY a beau­ti­ful notebook and di­vide each page into three col­umns, headed ‘STOP’, ‘KEEP’ and ‘START’ and jot one thing in each ev­ery day. Ask your­self:

WHAT am I go­ing to stop do­ing (get­ting caught up in gossip; or­der­ing a muf­fin with my morn­ing cof­fee)?

WHAT am I go­ing to keep do­ing (eat­ing a nour­ish­ing break­fast ev­ery day; stick­ing with the yoga classes)?

WHAT will I start do­ing (stand­ing up to take ev­ery phone call; say­ing “no” more of­ten)?

SAVOUR SOLI­TUDE

SPEND a lit­tle time alone each day, with your jour­nal by your side, and take 20 long, slow, deep breaths. It has never been more im­por­tant to try to cre­ate ‘is­lands of calm’ — time when you can re­lease ten­sion and sim­ply ‘be’

Your psy­che can­not push on for too long with­out some qual­ity down­time. A lit­tle bit of alone time has been shown to de­crease stress hor­mones, im­prove mem­ory, mood and em­pa­thy, and it al­lows your body to recharge.

Adapted by LOUISE ATKIN­SON from Rush­ing Woman’s Syn­drome, by Dr Libby Weaver (£12.99, Hay House). © Libby Weaver 2017.

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