There is no shortage of stress during the holidays. If you are a menopausal woman experiencing hot flashes, frequency and severity can see an uptick when added in the mix. Alas, there is hope. A little perseverance on your end can go a long way into managing your hot flashes through the holiday season and beyond.
Stress and Hot Flashes
Like many conditions, hot flashes have environmental, physical, and emotional triggers. Stress is a common trigger in itself, but having hot flashes can be stressful, particularly if they are severe. So, if hot flashes cause stress, and stress is a trigger for hot flashes, you may be wondering what you can do.
Stress is the body’s way of protecting itself from a real or perceived danger. Blood flow increases; blood pressure rises as a part of the stress response. For example, the person in the car in front of you stops abruptly, and you instinctively slam on your breaks, that is a stress response. Perceived danger from strained relationships, work pressures, and financial issues also cause the stress response to be activated. The increase in blood flow and pressure can trigger hot flashes and increases the frequency of them.
Things You Can Do
The good news is, there are many things you can do at home to help reduce the stress of the holidays and in turn, the risk for triggering hot flashes. These tips are also essential for your overall health, so you can’t go wrong in implementing them. Here are some examples:
- Exercise– Exercise is a proven method to reduce stress and clear your mind. Don’t let the holidays interfere with your daily activity commitment. Check with your gym to see if they offer special hours during the holidays or exercising at home can keep you on track.
- Alcohol and Caffeine– Alcohol can interfere with sleep patterns, and caffeine increases cortisol levels. These both can trigger hot flashes.
- Healthy Diet– Healthy eating during the holidays can be a challenge. Try practicing the 80/20 rule, which is 80% healthy foods, 20% indulgence.
- Sleep– Late night gatherings and not wanting to miss any special moments can contribute to a lack of sleep. Chronic insomnia can lead to heart disease. Increased blood pressure can bring on hot flashes.
- Dress in Layers– Dressing in layers is an easy hot flash management technique. Removing some of those layers to get cool when one hits, can shorten their duration.
- Stress Management– Learning better stress management by utilizing various practices will reduce your stress levels. Yoga, breathing techniques, and meditation are a few examples.
Advancing Hot Flash Treatment Through Clinical Trials
If your hot flashes are severe enough to be bothersome or interfere with your daily life, talk with your doctor. There are many treatments available such as hormone therapy and other medications that are proven to help reduce hot flash symptoms. Unfortunately, some treatments may not be an option or are ineffective for many women.
New potential treatment options are not possible without clinical research studies. Clinical research studies help determine new therapies’ safety and effectiveness. If you are experiencing hot flashes and are interested in new treatment options, research studies may be an option. To learn more about currently enrolling hot flash studies at Women’s Health Care Research, click here.