What’s really going on when you find yourself snapping at the cat for no real reason, or wildly impatient with the slow checkout girl – more than usual, I mean!!
If you’re in your 40s or early 50s, it might it be menopause. Or it might not. Up to 50 percent of all perimenopausal women experience disturbances in mood, including irritability. In fact, it can be one of the first signs that you are perimenopausal!
Your hormones may be off-balance and cause extra irritability as estrogen levels decline. It could feel like PMS on steroids!! A study involving menopausal and post-menopausal women found that irritability with others was associated with increased levels of Folicule Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Lutenizing Hormone (LH), hormones that are markers of ovarian aging and menopause.
Being irritable and intolerant with those around you, including your spouse, children and pets has consequences and none of them contribute to personal peace. Expressing irritability can alarm and upset loved ones and make you feel guilty for being miserable to those who don’t deserve such a generous expression of your wrath! And that’s not all, at this time of your life you may examine your past and future and decide to put all your relationships under a microscope to determine whether they’re worth the energy it takes to maintain them.
Irritability symptoms may include:
- Feeling stressed during a ‘regular’ day
- Feeling ‘on edge’
- Lasting out in anger or frustration or screaming with rage
- Less tolerance with people and events
- Reduced patience
- Over-reaction to something that wouldn’t have bothered you in the past
- Irritability is a general symptom with many explanations.
- Your irritability may have nothing to do with menopause. It could be connected to psychological and lifestyle factors including stress, major life changes, a history of depression or mood disorders, physical inactivity, excess consumption of caffeine, alcohol or drugs, or poor diet.
- Physical causes can include drug withdrawal or reaction, cancer, headache or migraine, head trauma, anemia, viral infection, diabetes and hypoglycemia.
- Irritability can be a side-effect of chronic diseases such as hypertension, cardiac disease, diabetes or thyroid disease.
- Irritability can be caused by caffeine, hunger and poor nutrition.
- Your irritability may be the result of lack of sleep from another menopause indicator: insomnia.
- Other menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, loss of libido, vaginal dryness, and more, can cause or contribute to irritability.
- Hormone imbalance yes, but the greater change is occurring in your brain which is rewiring during perimenopause. New growth of the myelin sheath, the coating that insulates nerves and speeds up the connection between nerve cells, is happening in the part of the brain responsible for emotional learning. These changes create greater clarity and help us shift from caring for others to more self-nurturing activities. Hence the irritability when asked to do things (e.g. help with homework, making meals) that you might have done in the past without thinking.
- Irritability and relationship-housecleaning at mid-life may be the result of reaching the breaking point for tolerating an unsatisfactory relationship that’s gone on for far too long. That’s probably a good thing! It may surprise you to know that many years of simmering, unresolved emotions may also be related to various ‘dis-comforts’ or ‘dis-eases’ in your body. This is what’s known as the ‘mind-body’ connection to disease. Do you have toxic emotions or resentments that are negatively affecting your quality of life? Do you have negative feelings about important people in your life that are overshadowing your good feelings? These feelings need to be resolved – now.
How can you beat irritability? Self-nurturing is the key!
- Take time for yourself; either alone or with positive, kind people.
- Pursue pleasurable calming hobbies such as beading, knitting, gardening or other activities such as listening to your favorite music, having an Epsom salts bath or change your routine and learn new things by taking a class.
- Learn and use stress-reduction techniques including relaxation breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, tai chi, visualization and get more fresh air and sunshine – every day!
- Make a commitment to nourish and love yourself by eating healthier foods. Consider the benefits of nutritional cleansing to help you reach your wellness goals! (See my blog “Healthy Affordable Weight Loss Through Nutritional Cleansing” for more information.)
- Be sure to get enough B-vitamins, calcium, and magnesium every day.
- Keep alcohol and caffeine to a minimum.
- Get regular exercise – a universal healing tool – it provides benefits for just about any condition you can name. Hate exercise? Consider getting a top-of-the line rebounder exercise machine – trampoline – so you can ‘hop on’ any time of the day to change your energy and get blood and oxygen flowing to your brain!
- Take an honest look at what’s going on in your life and ask yourself if the situation is serving you now. If you had to do it over again, would you? Is it better to let it continue, or have short-term pain for long-term gain? Your answers may help you to decide to renegotiate your relationships with family and friends. This could include changing ‘unwritten contracts’ with your spouse and/or children that have in the past made it OK for them to make last-minute requests that rob you of your down time, or expect that you’ll do all of the cooking or housecleaning. This can be challenging and take time to get everyone in the family on board, but you’ll feel respected and empowered as you stand up for yourself and eventually get your needs met.
- Share your life and problem-solve with trusted friends and relatives, or a good therapist. It’s worth being vulnerable with the right people. Try it and see.
- Learn and use an easy, simple procedure called Emotional Freedom Techniques (a.k.a. EFT or ‘tapping’) at www.EFTUniverse.com! This amazing procedure helps you release long-standing stress and is a tool for finding greater personal peace. EFT has been used for 20 years by doctors, therapists, coaches and holistic practitioners all over the world! You can learn it in 3 minutes and you can use it on yourself with great success! While some issues require repeated tapping and/or the help of a therapist who will bring objective eyes to your issue, EFT has been known to permanently resolve long-standing physical and emotional symptoms within minutes! When you’re ready to release the root cause of what’s holding you back in one or more aspects of your life, if, you’ve ‘tried everything’ and nothing has helped, you can find permanent relief with EFT to resolve issues of anger, irritation, fear, anxiety, and more. Take a few moments to imagine how it would feel to set down a 50-pound weight you’ve been carrying everywhere for years. That’s how I feel when I let go of garbage from my past and no longer allow it to control what I do now.
There’s no urgency to change most of what goes on in our lives, except for the urgency we give it – usually based on how much we want things to change. You deserve to feel good about yourself and the world around you. The sooner you take the first step that feels right to you, the sooner your life will get back on track. You’ll have shifted the energy and will soon find yourself feeling calmer and more like the eye of the storm than the hurricane!
Wendy Vineyard is a holistic health practitioner, lifestyle coach and wellness journalist. She specializes in inspiring mid-life women to make healthier lifestyle choices now, in order to set themselves up for a vibrant & juicy menopause… and life beyond. She has a degree in journalism, a diploma in holistic health, and additional training and certifications in nutrition, cleansing, herbs, EFT, aromatherapy, reflexology and Reiki. She’s happily married and the mother of a 20-year-old son. Her website http://www.NaturalMenopauseNow.com contains practical menopause insights, information & safe, effective natural remedies that nourish body, mind, emotions and spirit.