If you are anywhere in your early 40s, I am sure you have begun to experience mood swings, much to your discomfort. Moods that get the better of you and leave you befuddled, and in agony.
There are times when your anger hits the roof at the slightest pretext. And there are also times when you get emotional and your eyes tear up for no reason, at all.
Believe me, it’s not your fault, and no, you are not going crazy!
More often than not, this is what we think about ourselves when we fly off the handle or cry at the drop of a hat: that we are losing our mind.
Mood swings are signs of perimenopause. A phase when our body goes through various changes.
READ 5 ways your body changes after 40.
Perimenopause is characterized by hormonal changes that trigger mood swings.
HORMONES AND THE ROLE THEY PLAY:
ESTROGEN AND PROGESTERONE:
Our ovaries are the storehouse of all our eggs, each of which they release every month during ovulation. Our ovaries are also the source of the two types of hormones: estrogen and progesterone.
Estrogen is responsible for:
- breast development
- fat distribution in our hips and breasts,
- and the development of our reproductive system.
Progesterone is responsible for:
- thickening of the lining of the uterus,
- preparing our body for pregnancy,
- and our sexual desires.
During perimenopause, the level of these two female hormones begins to fluctuate. It is not a gradual process, but an erratic one. And, the mood swings, the anger, the anxiety, and the depression is a result of this fluctuation.
Fluctuation in hormone levels results in:
- Mood swings
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Low sex drive
- irregular periods
- Heavy bleeding
- Disturbed sleep
Perimenopause lasts for around 4 to 5 years in some women, and for a decade in others.
One can’t put a finger on when exactly the mood swings begin; the onset can be subtle if I can say that because there is nothing subtle about mood swings!
Range of emotions you experience during PMS:
- You lose your temper over trivial matters, and you also find yourself getting emotional over minor issues.
- The angry outbursts are often draining, causing distress to not just you but also those around you. They don’t know why it is that you are so agitated.
- You experience bouts of crying that leave you exhausted.
- There are times when you are happy for no reason at all. You feel chirpy, bubbly, and enthusiastic about life. No problem, big or small, overwhelms you.
- There is a sudden surge in your sexual desires and you wish for some intimacy with your partner. And, on some days, you just wish to be left alone!
- You find yourself in a chatty mood, eager to meet up with friends and talk nineteen to the dozen.
- You wish to be by yourself; you do not want any company, be it close friends or family. All you want is some peace and quiet.
- You feel irritated by the tiniest of things.
it’s only after these feelings have passed, that you feel your “normal self”.
These mood swings are more pronounced during the PMS – 1 or 2 weeks before your period. It’s really a time of great concern to you because you have begun to notice how everything changes during these 10 – 12 days.
But, there is really no need to worry. Once you understand why you have the mood swings, you will be better able to handle them and work your way around them. A little help is all you will need to feel good about yourself, despite the mood swings.
MOOD SWINGS IN A NUTSHELL:
To put it concisely, your mood swings are a natural occurrence. The depleting levels of estrogen and progesterone cause mood swings as well as other changes in your body as you enter your 40s. These are all symptoms of perimenopause and stay till you reach menopause. During the last phase of perimenopause, the depletion of estrogen is faster and you will start experiencing symptoms of menopause.
LIFESTYLE CHANGES THAT HELP YOU SURVIVE MOOD SWINGS:
Once you understand what causes mood swings, it becomes easier to take control.
Making lifestyle changes earlier on helps you have a coping mechanism in place that deals with perimenopause and later menopause. A healthy diet and an exercise regimen are some of the most important lifestyle changes that you will make for yourself, the effects of which you will notice as your body undergoes a change in your 40s. Beginning early–in your 20s or 30s–will ensure a healthy 40s, 50s, and the rest.
If your mood swings become unbearable, it would help if you visit a gynecologist for hormonal imbalance treatment. Or, you could also visit a psychiatrist. There is no harm in it, really. It will only help you overcome your problem faster.
It’s one of the most talked-about lifestyle changes you will come across when you decide to make a transformation in the way you live.
It is crucial that you include green leafy veggies, fruits, nuts and milk, and milk products (unless you are a vegan) in your everyday diet.
Make your own meal plan depending upon your likes, dislikes, working schedule, weight, allergies, tolerance/intolerance of certain foods, and also any lifestyle disease you might be suffering from.
Plan your meals before the week begins, and try and stick to the plan. But also be open to changes. It’s okay to miss your diet plan once in a while.
During PMS I crave chocolates and junk food–the spicy kind. And I make sure I indulge my cravings. It’s just a once-in-a-while thing and it gives me a wonderful feeling when I let go of guilt. A bar of chocolate won’t do much harm and will do me a world of good, especially to my mental health. DItto junk food.
After consulting with your doctor, get on a dose of regular vitamin and mineral supplements, especially calcium and vitamin D. With age, our bones begin losing their strength, and to maintain strong bones we need calcium.
We could depend upon food for the same, but in case you suffer from lactose intolerance, or are a vegan, then you will need calcium supplements. And, if you aren’t getting enough vitamin D from your diet, or from sunlight, then you will need Vit D supplements, too.
Do consult with your doctor about which calcium + Vit D supplements to take, when, and for how long.
Do not self-medicate.
It is yet another important part of lifestyle change. If you haven’t done it before, now is the time to make a new beginning.
Either begin with yoga and a morning/evening walk or join a gym, but exercise is a must.
A habit tracker will help you to keep count of your exercise regimen. it’s easy to make and keeps you on track.
Our mental and emotional wellbeing is as important as physical wellbeing. Everything we do is controlled by our mind; and if our mind is healthy, we will be able to live a healthy and happy life.
Pursue your favorite hobby, or develop a new one.
Spending even 30 minutes doing something that takes your mind off your troubles goes a long way in improving your chances of surviving your mood swings.
There are a whole lot of activities to choose from:
The list is endless. Take your pick and get started. Indulging in an activity that occupies your mind, creatively, is a great way to practicing mindfulness. Your soul will bless you!
Connect with your close friends and family. Talking aloud about your mood swings, or your problems with your friends is therapeutic, isn’t it?
Make time for yourself so you can spend some time in the company of those who care for you, your wellbeing, and are a huge support system.
Another important thing that decides how we feel from within.
Make sure to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Set an alarm to help you wake up. And, before you go to sleep, switch off your gadgets. Give your mind time to calm down; send your brain the signal that it’s time for bed.
When you lie down to sleep and find sleep evading you, close your eyes, and begin deep breathing.
Breathe in and breathe out deeply, slowly and in no time you will fall asleep.
Drink your last glass of water an hour before you go to sleep so you won’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to visit the bathroom.
Mood swings are natural occurrences and can be dealt with effectively if you make changes in the way you live. Making simple lifestyle changes will help you deal with the mood swings as well as improve your overall health. It will prepare your body for the times to come and strengthen you not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally.
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