Two weeks ago (in part 1) I put my faith in your body’s wisdom. I suggested that “by changing how you see your hormones, you can actually change the way they make you feel.”  What? No discussion about bio-identicals? Or phyto-estrogens? Or progesterone decline? Or (name your hormone) gone awry?

Okay, let me just say this from the get-go. This is not your run-of-the-mill balance your menopause hormones conversation. Instead of discussing what to take to get those darned hormones to balance like they did in 1999, I’m offering what the women I counsel find far more helpful for their long-term health and sanity: 1) the real cause of menopausal symptoms and 2) some pointers to lifestyle and attitude changes that can sustain hormonal balance for the rest of your days.

When hormones become symptoms

Menopause, when defined by its symptoms, is bloating and mood-swings, heavy bleeding and insomnia, hot flashes and foggy brain, desperate irritation and parched hoo-ha’s. How are these seemingly interminable and highly unpleasant symptoms connected to your hormones?

Simply put – when your hormones are out of balance, you get symptoms.

However, the culprit isn’t your hormones …  it’s stress that turns ‘hormones’ into symptoms, not the
hormones themselves. This is really important to understand. Your hormones aren’t to blame.  When you ‘develop’ symptoms, it’s not like developing an illness or catching a virus. That’s why unless you address the things that are stressing you out, ‘treating’ your hormones won’t bring about the fundamental balance you’re looking for.  Put another way, your symptoms have one message for you: “CHANGE!” they say. “Tend to things that are stressing you and you’ll get symptom relief.”

Of course, I’m not saying don’t try and make your life more comfortable as you go through The Change.  From homeopathic suppositories (to make me juicy down there) to Lugol’s Solution (to boost my thyroid), and all kinds of things in between, perimenopause has turned me into my own walking laboratory. Wait, I think I might always have been a little adventurous when it comes to natural remedies, but things feel a little more urgent now, don’t they?  Clearly, by tending to the larger picture of the things that make you feel anxious, stressed, furious, helpless or discouraged your hormonal balance will find its life-sustaining, cruise-controlling sweet spot that feels so good.

How to support your hormones: step one

[Spoiler alert: step one might be the hardest part].

To apply a more feminine approach to supporting your hormones (see part 1 for more on this approach), you first need to align your attitudes about a smooth menopause with your intention to support your body.  This is easier said than done, as it means changing some very old habits when it comes to how you treat yourself. Here are some pointers:

  • Cultivate a trusting, open relationship with your body. Learning to listen to your body is the most important step in owning your health.

           Some ways to do this:

         ⃟   tune into your body when you exercise (instead of scoffing down People magazine on the treadmill)

         ⃟   pay attention to how you feel after eating certain foods (feeling bloated is a really helpful sign of discord)

         ⃟   be guided by a ‘body whisperer’ (somatic counselors or body workers who collaborate to bring you back into authentic communication with your body)

  • Love yourself. I know we always come back to this one, but this is true hormonal balance therapy. Choose things that attainable and nourishing and, most importantly, enjoyable!
  • Expect accountability from yourself. Stay clear about your intention – you’re wanting to feel better, have more energy and more fun.
  • Get involved with your health. Wean yourself off relying on ‘experts’ to know what you need to make way for an intimate dialog with your body.

Here’s the good news. When you make these changes, your body responds and your hormones shift from imbalance to balance, without needing to ‘fix’ them. It’s kind of alchemical –  how changing one area balances something elsewhere.

Tending to the larger picture: step 2

Your hormones respond to your whole life. How you experience your daily life, things like love, respect, sensibility, regard, comfort, appreciation, gratitude, and self-love – these keep you humming along.  I know you see this over and over again, but these are your best hormonal balm:

  • healthy food (eating well is crucial to stable hormones)
  • rest, relaxation and sleep
  • family, friendship and support
  • pleasure, laughter and fun
  • spending time on you – especially if you’re tending to others’ needs a lot
  • self-care and nourishment sisterhood and community
  • healthy emotional boundaries – and the best medicine of all – love, gratitude and integrity

What does “hormone love” look like

Here’s what you have to look forward to as you come home to your body:

  • When you’re in a loving relationship with your hormones, you’re not afraid of them. Instead you know how to listen to them to make adjustments (the language of your symptoms)
  • When you’re in a loving relationship with your hormones, you aren’t ashamed of them. Instead you get excited about the sensitivity and diversity and understanding you now have access to as you transform into your full-womanhood or wise-womanhood.
  • When you’re in a loving relationship with your hormones, you don’t feel controlled by them. Instead you reap the huge healing benefits of collaborating with your body.
  • When you’re in a loving relationship with your hormones, you notice what’s making you uneasy in your life and you reduce stress to bring it back into balance

We’ve most of us got the memo by now.  Apparently, menopause isn’t for the feint of heart. Maybe that’s why it comes along when you’ve gathered some life experience, a little insight into how the world works and hopefully some self-reflective skills to boot.  With your big girl panties hiked way up high on your hips, you bide your time in the chrysalis, being guided by your hormones to find your balance. Until, one day, you burst forth – emboldened and empowered …

Adapted from Ashley’s upcoming book, The Conscious Menopause Survival Guide.

Want to chat live online with me and other women this Thursday, April 7 @ 9-10am PST? Symptoms and Stress – the link to relief is our topic. Sign up details are here.  (If you can’t be there in person, you can watch the recording in your own time).

Ashley offers Conscious Menopause coaching in San Rafael and via Skype.

You can read more on her website