Stressed. It has become a common way of describing ourselves these days.

And while you may be aware of what could be causing the stress in your life (work, life events, relationship changes, menopause and other health concerns, fear of the unknown), you may not realize that unmanaged stress can lead to more serious health problems.  

Why? Because stress, no matter what the reason, triggers your sympathetic nervous system, or fight or flight response. Stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol activate, and when (in most cases) your body doesn’t find resolution, it continues to pump out higher levels of stress hormones, resulting in the harmful effects on your body. This chronic stress can lead to heart disease, depression, increased risk of type 2 diabetes, weight management issues and so much more.  

Symptoms of stress varies by individual, but the more common and recognizable physical signs include:

  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nervousness, shaking
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches, muscle tension
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Cold or sweaty hands and feet
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Jaw clenching, grinding of teeth  
  • Upset stomach, diarrhea  
  • Changes in appetite

You may also notice emotional symptoms of stress, such as:

  • Being easily agitated, frustrated
  • Frequent mood swings  
  • Feeling overwhelmed  
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Repetitive thoughts, ruminating
  • Feeling alone or lonely  

Self-care tips for managing stress

Much like the various symptoms you may experience, there is no one-size-fits-all or magic pill to remedy stress.  The most important thing you can do is be self-aware. Know what may trigger your stress, and become familiar with the signs of stress on your body and mind. Then take action to help reduce stress and support yourself through it.

Build your resiliency - Becoming more resilient can help you manage stress, and managing stress can help you become more resilient. The two are intertwined, which is why some of the strategies to build resilience are similar to ones you might employ to reduce stress. Learn the steps to build your resiliency here.  

Eat well  - A balanced diet supports the immune system, helping to repair damaged cells and provide the extra energy needed to cope with stressful events.  A diet composed of whole and unprocessed foods, specifically healthy unsaturated fats and fiber-rich carbohydrates with lean protein, can support the body’s natural cortisol response. It’s important to avoid skipping meals and eat small, more frequent meals or snacks to stabilize cortisol levels and support an optimal insulin response.  

Get some exercise – Exercise helps to lower blood pressure and keep stress hormones in check. Studies show that just 20 minutes of aerobic exercise can help reduce cortisol, and get it back to manageable levels. But be cautious about very intense endurance exercise (such as ultrarunning) and be sure to take a rest day between higher intensity workouts.  Intense physical activities combined with lack of rest days can cause an increase in cortisol.  

Take a joy break – Finding joy in your day can come from the simplest of pleasures.  So why not give your pet some play time, eat an ice cream cone, indulge in some funny videos, take a walk outside or find a quiet bench to sit in the sunshine. These found moments will greatly support your emotional health.

Talk about it – most importantly, when stress just won’t quit, talk it out with a friend or family member, or seek the help of your physician or therapist.  

While many women feel increased stress, moodiness, anxiety and even symptoms of depression during menopause, don’t just brush it off. Plan a visit with your physician.

The information on the Gennev site is never meant to replace the care of a qualified medical professional.  Hormonal shifts throughout menopause can prompt a lot of changes in your body, and simply assuming something is “just menopause” can leave you vulnerable to other possible causes. Always consult with your physician or schedule an appointment with one of Gennev's telemedicine doctors before beginning any new treatment or therapy.


Ann Marie MacDougall

April 18, 2023

Medically Reviewed By

Monika Jacobson

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

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