Managing Stress and Hot Flashes During Menopause

As women approach 50, they often don’t often like to think about that inevitable next stage of their life that brings a variety of both physical and mental symptoms—menopause. Many younger women may have likely heard their moms or older relatives complaining about hot flashes or other ways that menopause has been changing their daily lives. 

Whether you have reached this point or it’s still down the road, it can be very useful to understand what your body is going through and how you can cope with the symptoms you may be experiencing. We hope these tips for dealing with some common symptoms will help make this time of transition easier and more bearable.  

What’s the Deal with Hot Flashes?

Arguably the most common or at least the most talked-about sign of menopause, the dreaded hot flashes are a symptom that scientists still have difficulty fully understanding. This symptom is reported by up to 75% of American women each year. And although this phase typically lasts around two years, some women experience hot flashes for up to five years or longer. 

They typically occur as a sudden and intense feeling of heat that often lasts a few minutes but can happen at a frequency that ranges from a couple of times a day to a few times per hour. Hot flashes can be triggered by several different things from walking into a warm room, to being under stress, to even simply moving around, causing discomfort in a variety of situations. 

How to Take the Heat

Though hot flashes may be unavoidable, there are steps you can take to make yourself more comfortable when you experience one yourself. First, wear clothes in layers that can easily be removed, which can allow heat to escape and cool you down. Although this isn’t as easy to manage in the summer, it can still be helpful if you’re often in colder buildings. 

This is also especially helpful at night when many women suffer from hot flashes as they sleep. You can also avoid eating certain foods that are more likely to trigger heat production in your body. These include foods such as alcohol, coffee or caffeine, and spicy foods. Other lifestyle changes can also be beneficial, such as losing weight or quitting smoking, which can help lower your likelihood of having hot flashes and keep you generally healthier overall. 

Finally, this one might be obvious and somewhat silly, but you can start carrying a fan around with you. There may be times when the air from a portable fan is the only thing that alleviates some of the discomfort you’re feeling. If you get a hot flash in an inconvenient place, you’ll be glad you brought one along with you.

Of course, for more extreme cases of hot flashes, there are other methods of treatment that involve hormones or medication which you should discuss with a doctor before pursuing. 

Managing Stress and Mental Health

Just as much as the physical symptoms take a toll on your body, your mental health and stress levels can just as easily be affected. Menopause can also cause mood swings, trouble concentrating, memory loss, and even sleep problems. These symptoms related to stress can often be much harder to fix, but there are things you can start putting into practice that can help you de-stress. 

For instance, meditation, or a routine of dedicated quiet time is a great way to refocus your mind onto the things that are important. Additionally, sometimes physical and mental health are both connected, and prioritizing your overall health can often benefit both. Getting enough sleep is also crucial for keeping your stress levels low, and you should be aiming for 6-9 hours of sleep per night. 

Finally, sometimes it’s all about the state of mind. Keeping a positive attitude about life and enjoying the moments you have will help make menopause more bearable and let you focus on the things that really matter.