Is there a connection between stress and menopause?
In this episode, I talk with Angel Counsel, a Leading Naturopath and Menopause Coach. She believes that when women understand what's happening with their hormones, they don't have to be afraid and they can make better decisions.
Connect with Angela: https://angelacounsel.com/speaking/
Bio: Angela Counsel is a Leading Naturopath and Menopause Coach who guides women to embrace the changes that are happening to their bodies as they move through their menopause transition. She is on a mission to spread the word that it is possible to thrive in menopause and this can be a time of stepping into your wisdom and falling in love with yourself and your life.
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Absolutely. So we're going to talk about I'm sorry, I just had a pizza and it fucked over my brain. So we'll be talking about that a little bit. I think I'm not used to eating like that, but today anyway, thank you for coming and talking to me today. Before we get into our subject for today, can you tell us who Angela is?[00:01:42]Introduce yourself to us. Okay, so for most of your listeners, they will probably realize that I have an accent. Well, I don't think I've got an accent. You guys have got an accent. So.[00:01:52]I'm from Australia. From Sydney, Australia. So it is tomorrow already. Now I am a Naturopath. I've been a Naturopath now for nearly 20 years.[00:02:03]Also a kinesiologist and a personalized health coach. I have worked in women's health most of the time that I've been a Naturopath. I've worked helping women have babies, get their cycles back on track. And as I started to move through menopause, I kind of thought I knew that menopause was what it was all about. It's just about hot flushes.[00:02:25]I soon realized that it was more than that because I was living it, and hot flashes was not my biggest issue. And there was so much I didn't understand. I didn't understand what was happening and how that impacted me emotionally and all everything that goes with going through menopause. Because for anyone who's listening, menopause is not just hot flashes, it is so much more. But the thing is, it doesn't have to be a struggle.[00:02:53]It is so much more because it's an opportunity. I see it as a time and opportunity for us as women, to start to put ourselves first. Because many of us, we've raised families, we've been in relationships, we've done jobs, run businesses, whatever, and we've put other people first. And now, as we come through this time of life, many women, their children are getting older, they're a little bit more independent, and they kind of go, well, what now? What now?[00:03:25]What now is now. It's your time. It's your time to create what it is in your health and in your life going forward. So that's kind of what I do. And I'm really passionate about teaching women are more about what's going on with their hormones, because I believe that when women understand what's happening with their hormones, they don't have to be afraid, and they can make decisions because they know why things are happening, rather than thinking that everything is going wrong and that their body is failing them and all of that stuff.[00:03:58]When you understand what's happening, then you can make different decisions. So that's kind of me in a nutshell. I came from corporate, did corporate for 20 odd years, and now I've been doing this for 20 odd years. So about half and half on corporate and being a naturopath halfway there. Oh, wow.[00:04:15]Well, that means you're an expert on the topic. You don't only talk about it, you live it as well. So I have an example for you, and I wanted to explain what happened. So I had this friend, and she was in her sixty s, and one day we were just talking about this kind of stuff, and she went, there are days when I get so frustrated that I just picked things up and just throw them all over the place. And I don't know why, I just feel like doing it.[00:04:48]And I remember doing that in my 20s during certain times of the month. Can you explain that? Because I'm thinking that's the hormones talking. Yes and no. So let's actually just take a little bit of step back.[00:05:06]I will answer that question. So just so women understand what's happening, as women kind of get to their late 30s, early 40s, their hormones start to shift. And this is because the egg supply is running out. So we're getting less eggs and less quality. So what that means is progesterone, which is one of the hormones, will start to drop, and quite often estrogen gets higher, and then over time, estrogen starts to come down too.[00:05:32]So the hormones do start to come down. Now, this is a natural shift. This is supposed to happen because we are no longer in our reproductive stage of life. If you remember right back to when you were in puberty, you kind of went through these emotional changes where you're throwing tantrums and things like that, because what was happening was your hormones, they were shifting up at that stage. Now they're shifting back, and the hormones are going back to where they were when you're in puberty because you no longer have any eggs left.[00:06:01]Now, that's all well and good, but the problem is in that time between when you went through puberty and when we go through menopause, is there's a whole pile of stuff that's happened in the middle. And that's the baggage, that's the emotional baggage, that's the physical baggage. That's all the stress. That's everything that we've done to our bodies in that 40-odd years between starting our periods and ending our periods. And all that comes together and starts to highlight as our hormones drop.[00:06:28]Now, hormones are protective, and as we lose that protection of the hormones, a lot of other stuff comes up now, the other thing that affects our moods is that our brain is changing as well. So when we are fully reproductive and our ovaries are producing hormones, the ovaries and the brain speak together. So there's a conversation going on all the time. And each month, yes, you'll have these conversations going back. And if your hormones are out of balance, that's when you're more likely to get moods. [00:06:59]So many women have out of balance hormones when they're in their cycling years, the week or so before their period, their estrogen levels are a little bit too high. And that can make you a little bit emotional, whether it's teary, angry, or whatever. And this is the connection between the brain and the ovaries. So that's out of balance because we're not sending the right messages backwards and forwards. But as we get into menopause, what happens is that the messages between the brain and the ovaries now start to shut down because the ovaries are no longer producing the hormones.[00:07:35]So we're no longer getting messengers. So now what the brain has to do, the brain is very clever. It has to find another way of getting the information. Now, when our ovaries don't produce hormones, our adrenal glands now have the ability to produce the hormones. So what happens is the brain now switches its connection from the brain to the adrenal glands rather than from the brain to the ovaries.[00:07:58]Now, that takes a few years for that transition to happen. But the reason why we have issues is for most women, as they come into the stage of life is they're highly, highly stressed. So the adrenals produce our stress hormones as well. And when there's a balance between producing stress hormones or reproductive hormones, the body will always produce stress hormones first because that keeps us alive, which means our reproductive hormones will come down. We've only got limited resources.[00:08:26]So now the messages between the adrenal glands and the brain are getting a little bit messed up because we don't have enough hormone coming from the adrenal gland. And on top of that is you've got the stress as well. So once the stress goes up, they say when stress is high, intelligence is low. Because once we're under the influence of cortisol, then basically our brain is firing off in all different directions. So the reason why your friend and many women have these issues is because of this.[00:08:58]Firstly, the redirection of the communication from ovaries to adrenals and secondly, because we're highly stressed. And when we deal with the stress and the stress is not just the emotional stress, it's also the physical stress, the food that we're eating, the way they're moving our body, how we're exposed to toxins in the world and all of that. So when we address the stress that we have control over, then our adrenal glands can do the job they're meant to do and it can start to produce the hormones. And send the messages to the brain. So that was a long answer.[00:09:31]Did it answer your question? Yes, it did. And thank you because I know we're all different, all our bodies are different and the same terms are going to be different. But it just seems like maybe if we took better care of ourselves as women, that maybe the symptoms would probably be more uniform but also wouldn't be as excessive.[00:10:02]So menopause is a transition. So it's a time of life the same as when we came through puberty. It's a transition out of our reproductive age. It is not normal to have symptoms. It is common to have symptoms.[00:10:19]Okay, got it. And this is what we've got to stop doing. We've got to stop normalizing symptoms. So yes, when we start to address the body and very much I'm a personalized health coach, so very much, it's like the body is an individual. And what each different body type requires when it comes to reducing stress is different.[00:10:38]So the different foods, different bodies need different foods or need different exercise or different amounts of sleep. So everyone's an individual. And when you can manage that, then you start to see that the symptoms start to go away. Now, symptoms might still come up. I occasionally still get hot flushes, but what that tells me is that I'm stressed.[00:10:59]So then the first thing I do is, okay, so I've got a hot flush coming on. What is going on? Am I eating properly? Am I sleeping enough? Have I got too much chatter going on in my head?[00:11:10]Because I know that as soon as that happens that it means that my body is stressed. So now, because I know that, I understand that a hot flush means this, what can I do to fix the problem? I don't need to find a pill to fix the hot flush. I need to fix the problem. What's causing distress?[00:11:27]So does it mean I need to go to bed earlier? Doesn't mean I need to look at my food. Pain is a big one. So I had lots and lots of pain. So pain is a very common symptom that women have where they have all over body pain and joint pain, very, very common was one of my biggest symptoms.[00:11:44]And even though my diet I would have considered was a pretty healthy diet, healthier than most people's diet, I was still eating foods that were not right for my body. And when I started to do personalized health and realized exactly the right foods for my body, the pain went because the inflammation went. Now sometimes I go out and I do things. I got a little bit of a weakness for Ben and Jerry's. Ice cream.[00:12:09]Really? Ice cream fudge. I love it, but I don't eat it very often. But I do know that when I eat it, I'm more than likely to get pain afterwards. But I do that consciously.[00:12:20]So I know that if I have this, that I'm going to get this. And I'll live with that because I can't occasion. It's really nice to have some Ben and Jerry's New York fudge Sunday. Or mint. I love the mint chocolate, too.[00:12:34]But I know that connection. And this is where I work with women, is to teach them, really is to teach them to listen to their body. Because your body always tells you if you've got symptoms, your body's telling you something is out of balance. Symptoms come from stress. They come from inflammation.[00:12:50]They come from the food you eat, how you move your body. As I said, environmental toxins. It's not the hormones causing the problem. The hormones are simply messengers. What information are we feeding our body that's causing the hormones to give incorrect messages?[00:13:07] So the hormones are not the problem. The problem is how we're treating our body, how connected we are. And many women are not connected to their body because we've been taught over the years that to be ashamed of our periods and everything that our body goes through, particularly women in this generation, our generation, we were taught that periods were not something you talked about, no one spoke about. There was a lot of shame around it. So women are very disconnected from their bodies.[00:13:37]They don't hear the messages. And so if you've got symptoms, it is about self care. It's your body speaking to you, saying something is out of balance here somewhere. You are not after yourself physically, emotionally or spiritually, because it's the only way the body can speak is through symptoms. And unfortunately, we ignore symptoms until they get really loud.[00:14:01]And then all we do is give it a pill to shut it up. But we haven't fixed the problem.[00:14:08]You said a lot there. I mean a lot. And by the way, my favorite is Cherry Garcia.[00:14:18]But you're so right about because whenever we have a problem and men always tell us, oh, it's our hormones, and we buy into that. So we don't take care of the symptoms or whatever is causing the symptoms because we have this blanket answer. It's hormones. And then the doctors want to fix the hormones, which I'm assuming would only cause more problems because when your body can't signal your body properly, then we have problems, right? Correct.[00:14:55]Because doctors don't actually fix the hormones, right? When you take artificial hormones or whether or not that is for the oral contraceptive pill or HRT, all that's doing is putting hormones from outside the body, inside the body. It's not fixing the imbalance. And yes, there are safe for hormones because there's bioidentical as opposed to synthetic. But what you're doing when you do that, and particularly over years and for many, many years and then I was one of these women, I was on the oral contraceptive pill for so many years.[00:15:29]What you do by doing that is, you shut down your own hormone production because the body doesn't need to be producing hormones if you're putting it into your mouth every single day, and then you're stopping it for seven days, and you're having a period, which, by the way, is not a period. That's a withdrawal bleed because there's no ovulation going on there. Periods only come out of ovulation, not out of being on the pill, because that's another big misnomer misbelief that doctors say, well, you'll still have your period. You're actually not it's not a period, it's just a withdrawal. And originally, when they created the oral contraceptive pill, there was no seven days of sugar pills.[00:16:04]It's only because women said they didn't feel like a woman when they didn't bleed that they said, okay, if they want to bleed, we'll just give them sugar pills that will make them bleed. But that's not a period. But let's move on. So when we're putting the hormones in, we're not allowing the body to balance itself because we're putting a regulated dose in. And particularly as we come through menopause, hormones are going up and down all the time.[00:16:31]Estrogen does not just go down. It goes up and then it goes down, and it can change from day to day. And if you then on top of that, put a hormone replacement in, basically you're dampening down your own response and you're getting a regular hormone. And yes, it might bring the systems down, but unless you're going to stay on those external hormones for the rest of your life, when you take them away, the problems are going to come back unlikely, worse, because your own hormones are now further out of balance. Okay, well, I stay on it for the rest of my life.[00:17:07]Now, with the synthetic ones, we know that there's a possible increased risk of certain diseases. We don't know enough about the bioidenticals. Yes, they're closer to our human ones, but they haven't been around long enough for us to say if there's any long term side effects, and maybe there aren't, but we don't need that level of hormone anymore. That's my big thing. It's like, why do we need to put more hormones in?[00:17:35]We're not producing eggs. We don't need to be taking these extra hormones. What we need to be doing is allowing our body to find its own balance. And we do that because by us doing it, we are in control. By taking a similar patch, you put in control with something external.[00:17:54]And I'm all about what does my body need, and I want to be in control of my body. I know that when I eat certain things that this is good for my body, so I'm going to get this result. When I eat other things, it's not so good. So I'm going to get this result. But that power is with me.[00:18:10]That decision is with me. Yeah. So it would seem from what you're saying, that what we really need is education as women. Because if we're blaming hormones, then we need to change that mindset, first of all. And if we're on body, if our own body is the one that should be treating us right, sending the right signals, and it's not, then that's where we need to find the answer, right?[00:18:41]Find the answer why it's not communicating and fix that and address that. So I'm going to back up, way back up. How can you tell when you're in menopause? Okay, so there are four stages to the transition, okay? Roughly, and they're different for everyone.[00:19:04]So roughly, late 30s, early 40s, you go into what is known as very early perimenopause. So perimenopause just means before so early. What does that feel like? So that's when you might start to notice that your cycle maybe if you've always had a regular cycle, now it might become a little less regular. You might go longer between bleeds.[00:19:29]So instead of it being 28 days, 29 days, it might go out to 30, 40 days. So it gets a little bit irregular. Some women there's not a great deal of change at this stage. Some women might start to experience a little bit of foggy headedness, and then as we come through, we go into just perimenopause. And that generally happens around about mid-40s.[00:19:52]But as I said, everybody is different as to when this happens. And this is when we start to notice, we might start to get all of a sudden, basically PMS symptoms might become worse. So premenstrual symptoms, our cycles could go longer. We can actually skip period. So we can go like two months without a period.[00:20:10]Or there could be a very heavy you can start bleeding heavier, could get sore breasts, hot flushes, weight might start to come and particularly sit around the waist. So now we've got this really significant we're starting to really notice that things are changing, and we're kind of going, okay, what's happening with my body? So this is kind of where most women start to really notice the difference. In the early stages, they don't. And then we get into the menopause transition.[:
Wow. Well, I'm glad for that. I saw a little bit about that on Instagram. So it's dry up. Yeah, it's all starting to dry out a little bit now, but now we've got the cleanup.[00:32:18]Yes. And before I let you go, give me one piece of advice for a solar mom. Anything. I think probably look after yourself. It's okay to put yourself first.[00:32:33]I don't know, as a solo mum, because you're kind of looking after everybody else. You're looking after your kids, and you often don't have anyone to share that with, but it is important. And even if it's just half an hour that you take some time for, you don't lose yourself. And as you get older and you're coming through this stage of life, that's the time for you to rediscover yourself. But don't lose yourself because the kids up and leave.[00:33:00]And if you don't know who you are, you're left with you and it's someone that you don't even know. So don't forget who you are. Don't lose yourself. Yes. Thank you very much, Angela Counsel, for coming and talking to us today.[00:33:13]I appreciate you.[00:33:16]SoloMoms! Talk and was designed to curate the stories of Solomons globally. As a facilitator of this platform, I aim to create a peaceful environment where you can share your heart, feel love, and get the advice you need. So if this sounds like you, why not RSVP for our next virtual meetup? The link is below it's where you can retreat from the chaos of your life so you can recharge, connect with other moms and get answers to your burning questions. Remember, you're not alone and you don't have the parent in silence.