Stress is a part of the human condition. It is unavoidable, whether we are children or adults - single, divorced, married or widowed.

Stress can provide us with excitement, stimulation and motivation. But it can accelerate to dangerous levels, and all of us need to find ways of coping with it.

It would be reassuring if at least our menopausal years were ones of contentment where a calmer, less frenetic pace replaced years of pressure. All too often this does not happen, because we allow ourselves to feel powerless in the face of the demands, needs and expectations of other people.

I became aware of changes going on within me when I was 48. I still had 2 children, aged 23 and 25, living at home, as well as a teenage daughter.

I would start weeping for no apparent reason, and didn’t want to get out of bed most days. I was incredibly irritable with all the family, shouting and nagging at them on the slightest pretext.

My elderly widowed mother, then 82 and living a mile away, expected my undivided attention, especially as I was her only child, and I could not say ‘no’ to her demands - Maryann (Cardiff)

If Maryann’s distress strikes a chord with you, you need to think about ways in which you can help yourself, just as Maryann did. She created a quiet half hour on her own one day with no interruptions, and

First, you need to create a quiet half hour on your own one day with no interruptions so you can

This might include a regular massage, reflexology treatment, joining a yoga class, swimming or dancing.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What difference could massage make to my stressful life?

A. Massaging muscles frees up tension and stimulates the circulation so that the blood flows freely. It can help to normalise blood pressure, easing the pressure on arteries and veins.

It also stimulates the lymphatic system, encouraging it to carry waste products out of the body and defending it against infection.

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Q. And reflexology?

A. If you consult a reflexologist for menopausal symptoms, the therapist will use her thumb, or sometimes her finger, to apply pressure in different points of your feet to release any blockage.

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Q. How could yoga help?

A. Yoga is a gentle exercise system which is believed to encourage union of your body, mind and spirit and restore balance in three ways.

It relaxes your muscles, improves suppleness, fitness and physical function. It relaxes your mind, and shows you how to control stress and destructive emotions.

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High levels of emotional stress increase susceptibility to illness:
chronic stress results in a suppression of our immune systems, which in turn increases our susceptibility to illness;
emotional stress also suppresses our immune system and leads to hormonal imbalances