Updated: Mar 30
The other week, I was walking to meet a friend at my local micro pub,
when I caught myself having an internal
dialogue with myself discussing and writing an email I wanted to send to someone who was irritating me. I was so engrossed in this conversation, that I am surprised I didn’t get hit by a car or trip over the pavement!
It was a situation that was festering at the back of my mind and it caused me an endless amount of internal rage and irritability. Hands up if you have been in a similar situation! For once, the perpetrator of my irritation was not my husband!
When, I caught myself mid-conversation, I realized that I was just winding myself up even further by constantly replaying different scenarios in my head. It’s not the first time that I’ve been irritated or in a rage. It wouldn’t surprise you to learn that I’ve always had issues with rage exploding, and in fact by teaching and practising yoga, I’ve been able to manage my emotions.
What is Meno-Rage?
Irritability and ‘Meno-Rage’ (as I like to call it) are quite common in our middle years. Life gets overwhelming, and demands become too high. We juggle a lot of responsibilities: work, family, parents, social commitments, the home. And let’s face it, sometimes we don’t get all the help that we need. We are expected to soldier on. We accept the situation, but bottle up our emotions. So, when something seemingly small occurs out of nowhere, it simply lights the fuse to our powder keg of frustration and BOOM! We explode- Meno-rage!
Meno-rage for me is a blinding rage. This shouty voice comes from deep within me. Most of the time, it is so blinding, I cannot actually remember the situation. It’s as if Mr. Hyde has suddenly appeared. Things might get smashed; doors might get slammed. But a lot of F-bombs are definitely hurled.
However, it is short lived. What lasts is the embarrassment and shame afterwards. I tend to then hide out in my bed for a few hours…maybe succumbing to a nap.
What’s the cause of meno-rage or perimenopause anger?
(Warning- this is the ‘sciencey’ bit- however, I do try to make it simpler to understand.)
It all comes down to your fluctuating hormones- or specifically, estrogen (Oestrogen if you’re British). Estrogen is the female sex hormone in our bodies that basically influences all aspects of our bodies. Not only is it the hormone that give us our female external looks (breasts, hips, curves, etc) and controls our reproductive system, it also affects our bones (see my blog on lower back pain here), heart health, moods. You name it, estrogen has their finger in the pot somewhere. It’s the reason that menopausal women double their chances of a heart attack!
However, as we enter our perimenopause, estrogen begins to fluctuate and decline. It’s actually the determiner in whether we are in perimenopause or not. I would like to stress the word FLUCTUATE. Hence, after a certain age, blood tests to determine whether you are in perimenopause are quite irrelevant, as your hormone fluctuates from day to day.
Unsurprisingly, oestrogen has an affect on your brain chemicals as well. Again, think hot flushes, brain fog, anxiety. Yup- you guessed it…oestrogen! Serotonin is another chemical in our brain that regulates our happiness. (Ever seen the Disney film ‘Inside Out’? They should make a mid-life version of it!)
Then there’s the Amygdala: a gland in the brain that stores our emotional memories as well as controls aggression. Every time we are ‘wronged’ in some way, our amygdala stores that, and prepares the body for a response if it ever happens again in the future. Now you know why you begin to shout at your partner for the time he left the toilet seat up 6 months ago in the middle of the night, even though it has nothing to do with why you’re mad at them in the moment.
Now, notice when your meno-rage happens. This is key….an awareness. I would suggest recording it in a diary. Mine ALWAYS happens a day or two before my period arrives. This is when estrogen is lowest in my body. So when all these lovely signs align, it’s the perfect potion for a Meno-rage outburst.
If you’re brain perceives something that is threatening you (your trigger), then the amygdala has prepared a response to ‘Fight’ it off, and releases your stored aggression. Hence the sudden shouty outburst for no reason. Spare a thought for the women in all those ‘Karen’ memes out there. They have been caught on camera in the middle of their meno-rage outburst!
Here are my 5 Top Tips for Managing Menopause Rage.
1) Journal- write down when you have an outburst. What was the trigger? How did you feel? Also record anytime something irritates you. You might come back to it. Recording these thoughts will make you aware in the future when you start to feel triggered.
2) Sa Ta Na Ma- it is a Sanskrit mantra (phrase) that I use, especially when I am in the car. Each breath is one syllable of the mantra. In Sanskrit it translates to Birth, Life, Death, Re-birth. But it’s a great one to use when you feel frustrated, such as being stuck in traffic, or in an overcrowded train. Some of my yoga ladies like to use the phrase Thou Shall Not Kill. In addition to the breathing, you can touch your thumb to each finger as you say each word or syllable. To see a demonstration of how I do this, head over to my YouTube video here.
3) Breathing- Blowing breath. Take a breath in and imagine blowing out candles for 4-6 seconds. Inhale for 4-6 seconds. Blow those candles out again. Repeat this for 10-12 rounds.
4) Jaw Gurning- simply open the mouth wide. Slowly move your jaw side to side a few times. Then start to circle the jaw in each direction a few times. You might hear clicking noises, but that is your tensed up masticator muscle in your jaw relaxing.
5) Relax in a restorative Yoga Pose- My favourite is Supported Reclined Butterfly pose. You can do this in bed as well. Recline yourself on bolster or pillows at a 45-degree 20angle, with your bottom resting on the floor. You can outstretch the legs in front, or bring the soles of the feet together for a bit more of a hip stretch. Use a soothing eye pillow or eye mask on your eyes, and add a blanket over top, like a warm hug. Then simply lie back and relax for as long as you want. (See how I set up my equipment in the picture below)
Do let me know in the comments if you try these tips, and if you have any tips yourself. But remember, the next time someone or something is triggering you, you are not going crazy. Blame the estrogen!
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