Do you wake up and, as soon as you’re conscious, the dreaded knot in your stomach returns?
- Do the smallest things make you nervous?
- Are you struggling to make decisions on things that used to not phase you?
You’re not alone
Feeling overwhelmed and anxious in your late 40s and 50s is extremely common and often we don’t even know why. The reasons are multiple and vary with each woman. Let’s explore some of the bigger picture reasons why you might be feeling anxious.
Physical Changes Relating to Anxiety
In a woman’s early 40s progesterone starts to become erratic. Falling pregnant is much harder and the body prepares for the next big change – the end of our reproductive obligations. It’s a bit like being 11 years old and seeing very early signs of puberty, only in reverse of course!
Progesterone production is linked with ovulation so it makes sense that it reduces given that within a few short years, we will no longer have the responsibility of making babies.
Progesterone is known as our calming, mood, sleep, and libido hormone. Lowered progesterone means lowered GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain, and that means our overall feeling of wellbeing can be affected.
Remember, the gradual reduction of progesterone production is normal.
But, the healthier we are, the longer we have our progesterone.
Eventually a woman must stop ovulating. She must stop menstruating. This is the way of things.
So, what can you do to support progesterone in your 40s?
Short answer: be healthy! Food is your number 1 medicine! Here are 2 key elements for eating to support hormonal balance.
- Eat Cholesterol.
- Cholesterol is essential for the production of steroidal hormones like cortisol and progesterone. Sally Fallon Morrell, founder of the Weston A Price Foundation, reminds us that animal fats are essential for cellular health and hormone production and recommends we regularly consume eggs, fish eggs, butter, ghee and even in small amounts, pastured lard and tallow.
- Eat Whole Salt
- The adrenal glands, where the journey to make progesterone begins, love sodium. Natural sodium in the form of whole salt (Celtic sea salt is my favourite) is essential to adrenal health and therefore, the whole body. Whole salt also provides dozens of other essential minerals.
Emotional Changes Relating to Anxiety
Midlife is a time when we start to grow up! Emotionally, that is. In the Native American tradition, a woman isn’t considered an adult until she is 52!
As we mature into our late 40s and 50s our emotional intelligence increases as we benefit from our years on the planet and all that we’ve been through. Or at least that’s the idea.
Dr Christianne Northrup calls Menopause, The Mother of All Wake Up Calls. And millions of women would agree how unsettling this is, very often resulting in anxious feelings.
Midlife and menopause are a time for letting go of old hurts. If we don’t get complete with past losses or the things we missed out on, we can become bitter and resentful.
So, what can you do to support emotional growth in your 40s and 50s?
- Learn about what’s happening to you.
- Knowing that you’re in a midlife transition and what to expect relieves so much anxiety. When you understand what’s normal you can relax. And when you relax you can tackle it head on. Make sure you watch my Youtube video to find out more about menopause as a rite of passage.
- Schedule time for periods of reflection
- This is when you book a Retreat, finally take up meditation, go Bush Bathing/Walking, practice yoga, have a girls weekend, learn to surf! Please give yourself time to reflect on your life and review where you are at so you are set up well for your wisdom years.
Midlife Changes Relating to Anxiety
We are getting older. Evolving! Letting go of our youth. Ageing.
Whether we like it or not!
If we are not ok with this, we may experience that yucky, anxious, overwhelmed feeling that we feel when we can’t control something. In that case our menopausal journey may include making our peace with getting older.
So, how can you grow older gracefully?
- Remember that you are not just a physical being, but a spiritual being as well. As we age our physical bodies may fade but our spiritual awareness and skill grows.
- Look to role models who have become empowered in their 50s. You’ll find many of them as leaders of organisations, charity leaders, activists, public speakers, politicians, advisory board members, business leaders and champions of change.
- Learn from the Women’s Mysteries, where older women in pre-patriarchal cultures were considered keepers of wisdom, elders and formidable community leaders.
- Be part of a group where you feel you belong and where you are encouraged to be empowered. Follow people on social media who inspire you. Do the work on yourself, read books, do courses, open up to the world and all it’s beauty.
As a naturopath, I choose to believe that all symptoms are designed to pull us into the future that we desire. Anxiety is no exception. It’s feedback. It’s information letting us know that there is a gap in our knowledge, something’s missing or not working. Rather than suppress or ignore anxiety, let’s embrace it and mine it for the intelligence that will surely guide us to the joy and happiness we so desperately crave.
Also remember, the best is yet to come!
Brenda Rogers is the founder of Quintessence Health and creator of the Passage to Power Programs, Retreats and Seminars. She combines the wisdom of Earth medicine, women’s mysteries and a career in the natural medicine and personal development industries to empower women to navigate the menopausal transition being radiant, alive and well.
She also supports the wellness and transformation of men in their transition through midlife.