Coping strategies for unexpected anger and rage in menopause
The day was going great, things were rolling, stuff was getting done... until you got some unexpected negative feedback from your boss.
Instead of taking a few calming breaths and giving yourself some space to reread the email (and discover she didn’t insult your work after all), you just see red. And seethe. Then you try to get back to work, pressing down the feeling so you don't blow up in the office. Perhaps you further numb your anger over the situation a little later by inhaling a handful of cookies in the breakroom. You don't remember doing it. But you're very aware that your fuse to anger is shorter than it's ever been before.
Let’s face it: our coping strategies for anger in menopause determine our ability to bounce back from unexpected emotional ups and downs.
It’s easy to let rage consume you. Once you start riding that anger wave, it’s hard to disembark until you’ve reached the beach. Luckily, we’ve got a few tips that’ll help you cut the ripcord before you faceplant in the water.
Why do I seem to be angry all the time?
Just some of the reasons behind unexpected rage include:
- Unbalanced or fluctuating hormones
- Loss of sleep
- Changes in exercise, nutrition and hormones
- Dealing with chronic pain or discomfort
It’s also worth noting that not everyone experiences these changes or feels unexpected anger during menopause. So don’t “expect” anger issues just yet. But if you are experiencing these issues, rest assured that this is a common and manageable symptom.
Unreasonable? Or appropriate?
Have you ever bottled up your feelings for fear others will label you “too emotional”? Many women feel scrutinized and judged for showing too much emotion. We start believing every emotion is unreasonable when really, we deserve to feel our feelings. We even deserve to express them, which can be the real challenge.
Menopausal women in marriages feelings are often cast aside and labeled “hormonal” — even when they’re completely appropriate to the situation at hand. Our partners, family and friends might write us off as being irrational even when our emotions have nothing to do with hormones. And actually, hormonal changes may not create strong emotions so much as they allow strong emotions to bubble up to the surface. So the emotion is appropriate; now you just need to be sure your response is as well. .
Did a thoughtless driver cut you off in traffic and you are ready to rear-end them? Did someone leave a mini-sip of milk in the fridge at home and you want to decimate the next person unfortunate enough to cross your path? Is your partner's cereal-eating (namely crunching, slurping, and spoon-scraping, not to mention only leaving a sip's worth of milk behind) sparking you to feel... murder-y?
Before you unleash your reaction, can you take a breath and ask yourself, is this feeling right-sized for the situation? Or, is this an inappropriate feeling for the circumstance?
Manage hormones through diet and exercise
Diet and exercise play a huge role in our mental health. In fact, there’s a direct link between the body and the mind: doctors believe your gut health is closely related to your emotional health -- and we already know that exercise can help get those endorphins (hormones that help boost your mood and relax your mind) moving.
So, move! Not only is physical activity a great way to channel your negative emotions and provide a creative outlet for your stress, but it can increase your happiness hormone levels throughout the day, too.
When it comes to food, everyone is different. Some people can apparently eat nothing but sweets and potato chips all day long and never feel any adverse effects (though, we do demand to know who these people are!). The rest of us might find that we feel better and more in control when our diet supports our physical and emotional health.
So, if you’re feeling a little extra edgy throughout your day, you might want to look at your diet.
Some of the common hormonal disruptors you need to stop consuming. Reducing sugar in menopause, alcohol and caffeine. If you have an intolerance or allergy to other foods, excluding them from your diet can also help ease tensions and give you more control over your mood. To start, we recommend you:
- Be careful of your caffeine intake -- especially first thing in the morning
- Avoid consuming more than the recommended 25 grams of sugar per day
- Limit your alcohol consumption (one serving per day for women)
- Monitor how soy and dairy affect your mood (possible disruptors in some women)
- Avoid dehydration in menopause by drinking plenty of water each day. It will also help flush out the toxins in your system
Develop a meditation/gratitude/yoga practice
One of the most effective ways to curb your stress is by attacking it before it attacks you. Developing a meditation practice can help you sideline anger or mood swings in menopause.
Mindful meditation allows you to notice your feelings (the good, the bad, and the ugly), accept them, and move on. Instead of shoving them aside or obsessing about them, you can observe them, acknowledge them, and let them go. And it won't take as much time as you may think it will.
Find an outlet for your stress
Is it a little cliche to take a boxing class to find a creative outlet for your stress? Who cares?! If it works for you, go ahead and give it a shot.
Sometimes we just need an outlet for our feelings — whether they’re positive or negative. We can get so caught up in our lives that we forget to take time to really process our emotions. It’s easy to write off feelings of frustration, anger, and self-doubt as “hormonal,” but will that serve us and our relationships? Likely, no.
Having a plan for dealing with adversity can make our reactions more appropriate. Stepping on your daughter’s LEGOs for the umpteenth time really is frustrating! But your hormones can make something like stubbing your toe or stepping on a toy feel 10 times worse. And that can influence how we react, whether we shout at the LEGO-leaver or rub our foot, throw the offending toy into the toy bin, and move on.
Creative outlets simply allow you to process those feelings in a safe space, and in a safe way. Even if you don’t feel like you’re creatively inclined, you can still channel those emotions into art or physical fitness. Some of our favorite ways to do this include:
- Set a timer for five minutes and write in a journal until the timer dings (or, keep going after time is up if you’re so inclined)
- Blast some music and dance out your problems; we recommend making a playlist full of anthems that you can sing along to and channel your rage
- Cuddle with a furry friend -- nothing helps to process your emotions like a support animal
- Go for a run, walk, or bike ride
- Take a spin class
- Get a massage (yes, a massage therapist can help work out those tense muscles)
- Check out our Rage Checklist for coping with anger in the moment.
The important thing to remember is that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for handling unexpected anger and rage. It’s important to listen to your body and do what works for you in the long run.
Care to share what's tipping you over your anger-edge lately... and what is working for you in dealing with it? Consider Gennev's Community Forums as another outlet where women gather and share real experiences about navigating through perimenopause and menopause. Join us.
Have you taken our Menopause Assessment?
Join over 100,000 women to learn more about your symptoms and where you are in the menopause journey.