It’s possible to make lifestyle changes that not only reduce hot flashes; they also improve your general health.
When it comes to hot flashes, not everyone has to take a medication in order to get some relief. For some women, it’s possible to turn down the heat by making lifestyle changes that not only reduce hot flashes; they’re also terrific techniques for improving your general health. Here are my top seven. Most can be done by anyone, anywhere.
1 Drink enough water – As a baby, our bodies are about 80% water and by the time menopause occurs the body is about 65% water. Your brain is about 85% water. And everyday we’re losing water through sweating, going to the bathroom, and breathing moisture into the air. We’ve got to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water everyday – not most days, not on a good day, but every day.
Exercising 30 minutes daily lowers hot flash frequency and intensity
A lot of people think drinking tea, sodas or beer are hydrating. Unfortunately, they’re not. In fact, caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea, and alcohol, actually work as a diuretic that cause you to lose fluid volume. Stick with water. It’s great. It comes fr
om the tap. It’s free. If you want to get a filter, you can do that; but water is special and will help you reduce hot flashes.
Here’s a tip to ensure you drink enough: Fill a pitcher with 64 ounces of water and drink all of it each day.
2 Exercise – Exercising 30 minutes a day has been shown to lower the frequency and the intensity of hot flashes. You don’t have to do it all at once. You don’t have to run the Boston Mara-thon. You can do 5 minutes here; you can do 10 minutes there. And added up over the course of the day, try to get in a total of 30 minutes. You can do it by walking; you can do it by gardening. You can do it by any activity that’s getting you to move. Exercise is really an effective way of lowering your hot flashes.
3 Yoga – I can’t emphasize enough how great yoga is for hot flashes and for life in general. It’s going to increase your flexibility, it’s going to increase your balance, it’s going to in-crease your strength, it’s going to quiet down your brain and lower stress. And you can do it at home, in a class, or wherever you are.
What I like personally is the Kundalini yoga. I wrote a Kundalini yoga book called “A Woman’s Book of Yoga” with Hari Kaur Khalsa. The reason that I like it so much is that it combines meditation, the mindfulness along with the vocalization, with exercises and breathing that can actually help to lower your temperature and control those hot flashes. An increasing numbers of studies show yoga is helpful.
4 Meditation – I can’t tell you how great meditation is for any challenge in your life. And hot flashes certainly are a challenge, particularly if you can’t take estrogen to lower the hot flashes. To begin meditation you want to establish good breathing techniques; slow deep diaphragmatic breathing. Breathe in through your nose slowly, hold it in, and then slowly blow it out through your mouth. Empty out your lungs so that with your next breath, you can feel your belly expand as the air flows in. Do that for one minute, then work your way up to 2,5 and eventually, 10 minutes. Dr. Herbert Benson explains the physiology behind this as part of his Relaxation Response.
With meditation, many people will combine a phrase. One might be the Sanskrit phrase, Aum Namah Shivaya. Repeat that phrase over and over again. Alternatively, you could say the Hebrew phrase Shemah Yisrael, or Mother Mary, or a positive affirmation such as, “I am strong, I will survive, I am loved, I can get through this, I will have a good day” – and keep chanting your phrase or positive affirmations as you exhale the entire time you meditate. With practice, you will perfect it.
Avoiding caffeine, spicy foods and alcohol can lower the flame and reduce hot flashes
5 Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction – This was something that was developed originally by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts and involves 8 weekly classes that expands meditation by combining it with yoga. It’s used now around the world as a recognized way of stress reduction and lowering depression. When your stress is reduced, you will definitely lower your hot flashes.
6 Alter what you Eat – Avoid these three things: caffeine, spicy foods and alcohol. All three increase hot flashes; and eliminating or minimizing them in your diet will help to lower the flame and reduce hot flashes.
7 Acupuncture – Though not liter- ally lifestyle, something that’s totally medication-free is the use of acupuncture. An increasing number of studies show up to 60% hot flash reduction with acupuncture. Try combining all of these things together. They will both help your hot flashes, and the quality of your life by calming your mind and your body. They will also help you get in shape and help you sleep better. And that is going to make a happier, healthier you, who by the way, has fewer hot flashes.