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Do you send family members running for the hills or are colleagues looking at you like you’ve sprouted two heads? No you’re not turning into a werewolf at the next full moon. If you are a perimenopausal woman, it’s more likely you’re experiencing one of the more common and often misunderstood symptoms of menopause, irritability. The definition of irritability is: a quick excitability to annoyance, impatience, or anger. Sounds about right, on the surface your simply going about your business doing what you’ve always done. You arrive home from work tired and wanting a few minutes to unwind and almost instantly your husband asks what’s for supper, your son wants help with a project, and your daughter wants a ride to a friend’s house. A variation of this scene has played out thousands of times before but tonight your head is teaming with thoughts like….. ‘What you can’t work the stove?’, ‘Why does it always have to be me helping?’, ‘Couldn’t she have gotten a ride from her dad?’, ‘What do I look like the master servant!!’. You may utter a sarcastic quip or snap a retort but you just do it all and wonder what’s wrong with you. Does this sound a little too familiar? What you and those around you don’t realize is there is a major renovation underway.
Urban legend would have it that menopausal women are like werewolves with dropping estrogen as their ‘full moon’ to trigger the scary transformation from docile caretaker to raging lunatic. In fact mood swings do occur with the menopausal changes in hormonal balance. But the greater change is occurring in your brain. Your brain is essentially rewiring. There is new brain growth, specifically the myelin sheath, the coating that insulates the nerve and speeds up the connection between nerve cells, in the part of the brain responsible for emotional learning. These changes allow for greater clarity. This combined with the decrease in our ‘nurturing’ hormone, estrogen, accounts for our shift in awareness from caring for others to more self nurturing pursuits.
The irritability usually starts subtly, like low voltage through a wire barely strong enough to keep a pilot light lit. Over time the current becomes stronger and stronger until you could light a stadium with it. The minor irritability, low voltage anger, will continue to build if you ignore it. This is an internal signal telling you to take a look at what’s going on in your life and asking yourself if the situation is really serving you anymore. By answering honestly and taking a clear look at your needs you can renegotiate your relationships to better support you. Changing the unwritten contract in relationships, you know the one that says you do all the cooking or that it’s alright to make last minute requests that rob you of your down time, can be challenging and it takes time.
Here are some other immediate support measures to help ease the irritability.
• Keep alcohol and caffeine to a minimum
• Avoid processed foods
• Be sure to get enough calcium and magnesium
• Engage in stress reducing activities like meditation, yoga, exercise, fresh air & sunshine
• Foster supportive friendships
If ignored this irritability often blossoms into other health issues. After all it’s your body’s way of trying to get your attention to make some changes.
About the Author: Cathy Brennan, owner of Pathways Coaching, is a Professional Coach specializing in Menopausal Women. She thrives on helping her clients maneuver through the menopause transition and design a life that they can’t wait to greet each morning. She has been a Professional Coach for 5 years and has 25 years experience as a Registered Nurse and Holistic Health Practitioner. To contact call 860-774-0006, email coach@pathwayscoach, or visit http://www.pathwayscoach.com. For a free Menopause Assessment go to http://www.assessmentgenerator.com/H/cRcoachcmb1156881430.html