Good afternoon everyone…. hope you have all had a great week?
So, following on with the DSJ Hypnotherapy A-Z of Menopause blog, we find ourselves at F. Now I am sure there’s a particular F word many would associate with perimenopause and menopause but hey……. this is a family show!! So, this week, my subject is FATIGUE! When we mention fatigue many may think of just feeling over tired, but fatigue is more than this; it is a state of severe tiredness and very low levels of energy. Many women suffer from fatigue during perimenopause and menopause, and it can occur at any time without warning. As you can imagine this can be so debilitating and frustrating.
Now, during our normal day to day life, we would normally feel fatigued following a lack of sleep or physical exertion, but during menopause, it can strike at any time. Fatigue can also affect concentration and motivation.
In some cases, fatigue can be linked to other symptoms of menopause, including anxiety, insomnia and stress, but often, there appears to be no underlying cause and hormonal changes, most notable a drop in oestrogen levels, contribute to low energy levels and increased tiredness at all times of the day. However, as you know from my previous blogs the cycle of anxiety and stress that starts to occur when you find yourself in your primitive brain can exacerbate the issue of fatigue even further. The more stressed you become about feeling the fatigue, the less likely you are to sleep well and may have an anxiety filled night, that automatically becomes an anxiety filled day.
Let me just remind you of how the brain works……when we are working from our primitive brain, otherwise known as the fight or flight part, we find that we are not functioning logically but in a heightened state of vigilance based on emotional responses. Every one of our negative thoughts and emotional responses that we fire off in a day is accumulated and stored in our metaphorical stress bucket.
Now when you consider that in addition to this, our brain doesn’t know the difference between imagination and reality so, even when we simply worry about something that might not even happen, anxiety is being created as if it’s actually happening. It’s not hard to see how our stress bucket fills quickly and when that happens and the next worrying thought occurs, there is nowhere left in the bucket for it to go and so the bucket overflows, thus leading to more emotional responses.
When our stress bucket overflows, we lose access to the intellectual sensible part of our brain – the part that knows just what to do and we move down to the primitive flight or fight part, which is solely concerned with survival.
The bad news here is that the average emotional age of the primitive part of our brain is about 4 to 5 years old and has 3 default ways of responding:
Anxiety, Anger and Depression
In addition, when we find ourselves in the primitive brain, we begin to throw inappropriate habits and behaviours into the loop. At the time we feel that it’s just what we need to make us feel better, but often this is a quick fix that gives no long-term benefit and can even add to the stress cycle and the feeling of fatigue. We all know that at the best of times a few glasses of alcohol can lead to a feeling of grogginess, let alone when there is already an element of fatigue involved.
So, when we start to look at the advice associated with managing menopausal fatigue there is some fabulous tips and advice out there for example;
Aim to sleep well – getting between seven and a half to nine hours sleep a night is vital to be able to function properly the next day.
Stay hydrated – dehydration, more often than not, causes fatigue. Remember that certain fluids such as coffee and alcohol have a dehydrating effect and so water is a much more effective substitute
Eat a healthy diet – if you are taking in the correct nutrients each day, this will give you energy to see you through the day. Eating a lot of refined sugar or caffeine may give you a short-term energy boost, but will not help you in the long run.
Keep stress to a minimum – constantly worrying and panicking will only increase your chances of wearing yourself down. It is important to give yourself a bit of time to relax each day
Now, many of us may know this information but I, personally have been mid menopause and have found myself so embedded in my primitive, negative brain that all of this advice simply washed over me. The feeling of overwhelm and negativity was just too much to be able to focus on the solutions.
Once again this brings me back to the passion that is Solution Focused Therapy, because it is only by re-focusing, emptying that stress bucket and lifting out of the primitive brain and into the intellectual brain, that the good actions, habits and behaviours can start to take place.
Fatigue can be a devastating symptom, break the cycle and let the healing commence.
One thought on “F is for Fatigue!”
the best part is from the beginning of my day, i’m felling very low in energy. now i know the reason behind this (ಥ _ ಥ)