With every act of self-care, your authentic self gets stronger, and the critical, fearful mind gets weaker. Every act of self-care is a powerful declaration: I am on my side. —Susan Weiss Berry
As we have seen, lifestyle and the state of our adrenals can have a huge impact on our menopause. This time of our lives can be a wake-up call to begin to assess what our bodies need and how we are living, and a prompt to take better care of ourselves. It is kind of like the old adage of the frog—if dropped into boiling water, it will jump right out; but if you put it in lukewarm water and slowly increase the temperature to boiling, it just keeps on adapting and dies as a result.
Many of us have been slowly adapting to more and more stress over the years, to the point that it now seems normal to us. Ways of being we could tolerate and adapt to, or even enjoyed, when younger just do not work for us anymore. I have had many women tell me that they used to be able to go out for drinks every night after work and stay up late with no lasting effects, or run on adrenaline and coffee with four or five hours of sleep. Their bodies no longer do well with these behaviors, but they find it hard to change them. Some say they resist changing because it makes them feel old, or it feels like a last rebellion. For others, it is as if these behaviors form a kind of scaffolding, which holds them up. They are just making it day to day and are too busy to think about it.
It should come as no surprise that the lifestyle adjustments that support the adrenals will also help to prevent and lessen the symptoms of menopause. Healthy adrenal glands will support overall health and strengthen the immune system, as well as support good hormone balance, since your body will not be turning your sex hormones into stress hormones. (Remember, Nature will always prioritize survival over reproduction.) Instead, the adrenals can do their intended job of supplying the hormones for the second half of life. There are some very simple things you can put into place now that will make a huge difference in terms of how you experience menopause, whether or not you are already having symptoms.
Old habits can be very difficult to break however, and new habits difficult to form. The brain is a very habit-forming organ, and it can take six weeks to six months of a new behavior (depending on the individual) before the brain creates the new pathways that support maintaining a new habit.
Women in the second half of life benefit tremendously from creating rhythms in their lives. This both helps to conserve energy in the body and helps the brain to form new habits. The amount of energy we have available to use on a daily basis is created by a delicate balance between building up the biochemicals that we need for our energy and the running of bodily processes and using up these resources. Establishing a rhythm to your life allows your body to anticipate at what time of day you will be eating, exercising, or sleeping and therefore have the appropriate amount of energy ready for you at the right time. If, on the other hand, you are random about your activities, your body must have a lot of energy available at all times because it never knows what is going to be asked of it. Generating this energy, to keep you in a constant state of readiness, makes it more likely that you will run low.
Again, the metaphor of a bank account is useful here. The money you have available to use for your daily spending is dependent on what you have in the bank. If you use more than you save, or if you spend needlessly, you will eventually be overdrawn and not have what you need on hand. So, it makes sense to conserve and not to spend needlessly. It is the same with our energy stores. We can take supplements until the cows come home, but if we are not making changes to our lifestyle and we are using up everything that we put in every day, we will never make progress. Creating a rhythm can make a huge difference in helping you conserve while trying to heal.
Following are some basic lifestyle adjustments you can put into place that will make a big difference to your adrenal health, your immune system, and your overall well-being. I have had clients for whom just changing one made all the difference with their menopausal symptoms. Remember, it is all connected and one change will have a ripple effect.