Because perimenopause in particular has an impact on some key areas of the brain, including the amygdala it can affect the way we experience our emotions.
This can lead to longer term issues with anxiety and depression but it can also affect the way we regulate our emotions in the moment – and as the adult in the room it’s our job to be in charge of our emotions.
Very often the children and young people we deal with are not great at emotional regulation, so as teachers we frequently use our emotional regulation both to model how it works and to ‘mop up’ the difficult emotions in the room.
We have to be the ones who remain calm – often neutral – and whose responsibility it is to de-escalate difficult situations. We’ve probably been doing that for a very long time and not even considered the role of emotional control in our jobs. What we are essentially doing is not ridding ourselves of emotions, but delaying them.
The truth is that we do have to keep on doing that through perimenopause and into menopause. And usually we can. But it’s important to recognise the increased toll it takes on us, and the increased time we need to recover from difficult situations.
We may well need to set aside additional time to feel and process the emotions we are managing. We may need to consciously regulate our emotions and have strategies for doing so.
Those strategies are individual – they may involve letting off steam or confiding in another, they may involve activity or laughter, or mindfulness or meditation. It’s important that we understand what works for us and prioritise making time and space for it.