What to do when perimenopausal hot flashes hit you

What can you do make perimenopausal hot flashes fade away faster when you feel the burst is coming?

If you are going through perimenopause and experience hot flashes you know how challenging those moments are. You don’t know when and where they can happen, at work, during a meeting or a presentation, at the grocery store or at the gym.

You feel embarrassed and would rather disappear.

Many people going through perimenopause report they left their job because they were feeling desperate and didn’t know what to do about perimenopausal symptoms.

Luckily there are some practices you can use to help you relieve perimenopausal hot flashes when they happen and I am going to show you exactly what to do.

Perimenopausal hot flashes: what are they

Hot flashes are a very common perimenopausal symptom which consist in a sudden overheating sensation starting in the chest or lower and rising up to the face. They can be accompanied by sweating, palpitations, shivering and extreme emotions.

They vary in frequency and intensity and affect many people going through perimenopause for a period of time that can vary from 1 to more than 7 years.

It is not very clear why they happen, no wonder as many of the symptoms and issues related to the menstrual cycle physiology haven’t been studied by the main stream medical science but just labelled as normal menstrual cycle troubles one has to put up with.

Enough of that.

It is thought that the drop in estrogen naturally happening during perimenopause somehow affects the hypothalamus temperature control functions. The hypothalamus senses overheating of the body and activates a cooling down response which results in blood vessel dilation and sweat.

Can I stop perimenopausal hot flashes?

The bad news is once hot flashes started, you can’t make them stop. The good news is you can use an array of practices that will help you make them fade away faster and decrease their intensity.

What not to do to soothe perimenopausal hot flashes

Please don’t stick your head in the freezer. Really.

Trying to cool you down exposing yourself to extremely low temperatures will not help as the overheating sensation is just the hypothalamus temporarily impaired ability to detect body temperature.

Even if it might sound counter-intuitive don’t go searching for:

  • Ice cold drinks
  • Fan
  • AC
  • Ice packs

The most effective way to soothe perimenopausal hot flashes and decrease their intensity and duration is conscious breathing.

A tool you have available at all time.

When skillfully directed, breath has an immense calming, soothing, healing power on the body system.

So let’s see which are some of the easiest pranayama (yogic conscious breathing practices) techniques you can start using to soothe your perimenopausal hot flashes.

Perimenopausal hot flashes: breathe it out for a smoother ride

When you are at home or in any place you feel at ease, take all the time and space you can for yourself as soon as you feel the hot flashes rushing up.

Be it during the day or at night follow the steps detailed below:

STEP 1: You can take off one layer of clothes if that makes you feel more comfortable;

STEP 2: Sit in a comfortable upright position which can be Swastikasana, Padmasana, Virasana or Siddhasana. If sitting upright is difficult, sit with your back and head at the wall;

swastikasana for pranayama to relieve perimenopausal hot flashes
Padmasana for pranayama to relieve perimenopausal hot flashes
Virasana for pranayama to relieve perimenopausal hot flashes
Siddhasana for pranayama to relieve perimenopausal hot flashes

STEP 3: Choose one of these 2 Pranayama techniques:

Sitali Pranayama (Cooling Pranayama)

Step 1: Keep your hands resting on your thighs;

Step 2: Make a small circle with your lips;

Step 3: Stick your tongue slightly out then curl it up;

Step 4: Now stick it out completely;

Step 5: Close your eyes if that’s comfortable for you. If that makes you feel agitated, keep them open with a soft gaze in front;

Step 6: Exhale fully, then inhale through your tongue;

Step 7: At the top of the inhalation, bring the tongue back inside the mouth and close your mouth;

Step 8: Exhale through the nose;

Duration and timing:

At the end of the exhalation you have completed one cycle of breath.

You can repeat 3 cycles of Sitali Pranayama, then go back to breathing normally. Feel that your breath is calm and your body doesn’t feel irritated.

You can then repeat 3 cycles of Sitali Pranayama.

You can choose to alternate Sitali Pranayama and natural breath to start with. As you become used to the practice do Sitali Pranayama for 1 to 5 minutes.

Then go back to breathing normally and gently open the eyes.

Chandra Bhedana Pranayama (Left nostril Pranayama)

This is a digital pranayama practice, which alternates inhalation and exhalation through a single nostril using the right hand to do so.

Correct placing of the fingers is an art in itself. Don’t get obsessed about it when you are just starting.

Make sure your shoulders are relaxed, your elbowed don’t open to the side and you don’t squeeze your hand or nose. Be gentle and focus on the breath.

Step 1: Bend your right index and middle finger into the hollow of the palm;

Step 2: Place the tip of your right thumb onto your right nostril where the bone meets the cartilage;

Step 3: Place the tip of your ring and little fingers onto your left nostril where the bone meets the cartilage;

Step 4: Close your eyes if that’s comfortable for you. If that makes you feel agitated, keep them open with a soft gaze in front;

Step 5: Exhale fully;

Step 6: Close your right nostril and inhale through the left one;

Step 7: At the top of the inhalation, open the right nostril, close the left and exhale through the right only;

Step 8: At the end of the exhalation you have completed one cycle of breath.

Inhaling through the left nostril invites calm energy into the body. Exhaling through the right one calms down the stimulating energy.

Duration and timing:

You can repeat 3 cycles of Chandra Bhedana Pranayama, then go back to breathing normally. Feel that your breath is calm and your body doesn’t feel irritated.

You can then repeat 3 cycles of Chandra Bhedana Pranayama.

You can choose to alternate Chandra Bhedana Pranayama and natural breath to start with. As you become used to the practice do Chandra Bhedana Pranayama for 1 to 5 minutes.

Then go back to breathing normally and gently open the eyes.

Pause. Make space. Breathe.

Benefits

Consciously breathing following these practices can:

  • calm down your nervous system
  • keep your mind focused on the breath and away from the extreme emotions that often accompany hot flashes, such as embarrassment, shame, fear, anxiety
  • avoid palpitations
  • cool down your body system

At the end give yourself a couple of extra minutes to feel the effects of your body, mind and spirit. The more you practice, the quicker you get into the focused state of pranayama and the quicker the hot flashes fade away.

Absorbing the effects of the practice will also help you go back to that focused, calm state when you are out and about.

While at work, don’t hide in the closet

In the workplace, at the grocery store or at social events things get harder. But please don’t hide in the closet. Or stick your head in the freezer.

You might have to excuse yourself 5 minutes, find a room where you can sit down by yourself, even use the toilet sit, a bench at the park or the sidewalk.

Alternatively stand with your back at the wall, practice one of the breathing techniques detailed above and ride the tide of the hot flashes.

Conscious breathing is a great tool to ride the tide of hot flashes. When you know how to effectively decrease intensity and duration of the hot flashes, stress decreases, confidence is boosted and you feel more in charge of what’s changing physically, emotionally and mentally during perimenopause.

Next time breathe it out.

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