No, it's not a disco inferno but it certainly feels like one - minus the 70's groove! What am I talking about? Yep, it's the dreaded hot flush/flash. Us ladies in mid-life are all too familiar with this creeping sense of heat spreading throughout our bodies, engulfing us with a combination of intense warmth, sweat and embarrassment. Some of us feel a bit uncomfortable for a few moments and we can carry on with whatever we are doing. For others they are excruciating, hitting us when we least expect them and often when we REALLY don't want them. In the boardroom, on a date, whilst we are sleeping deeply, when we are already feeling anxious or just plain bloody hot anyway. And then we get even hotter! I used to love very warm weather. Not any more! Have you ever noticed how much a hot flush can feel a lot like an anxiety attack? Mine can start in my gut, just an uncomfortable clench that signifies that it's coming....then I notice my heart beating slightly faster....then the heat builds.....my face glows like a large shiny beetroot ...and then I break out in an intense sweat as if I've just run a full marathon at midday in the Sahara Desert. Fun isn't it?! And the accompanying anxiety....well let's not go there. Many women find hot flushes incredibly debilitating and embarrassing, and it would seem that those of us who struggle might be triggering "fight or flight" mode. But there is nowhere to run! And you just can't fight it can you? What is the best thing to do? As counter-intuitive as it may sound, we must relax. Learning relaxation techniques could be the best way of sending your sympathetic nervous system a very clear message that you are not in danger. Yes, getting hot and sweaty very quickly is pretty horrid but it won't kill you. If you can try and calm your panic/anxiety response, you might have a less intense flush. It's just a little theory but it might just work! There have been some promising studies into the impact of clinical hypnosis on vasomotor symptoms (hot flushes and night sweats) that indicate improvements of at least a 50% reduction in hot flushes in post-menopausal women. This is considered to be "clinically significant". I am certain more studies will follow but for me, anecdotally, a regular meditation and deep breathing practice helps me to cope better. Not just with the flushes but with a lot of things. Happy days!
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