Have you ever been sitting on your friend's couch during a girls night out only to have to ditch your glass of wine and find an open window because of a hot flash? Or maybe one chilly evening you are snuggled in bed under your down comforter only to stare at the ceiling for hours without being able to fall asleep. Some days, surviving menopause seems like an uphill battle you just can't win. Between the hot flashes, slow metabolism, mood swings, and trouble sleeping, it's no wonder your family is tiptoeing around you on a daily basis.
Our hormones wreak havoc on our minds and bodies during menopause, but you don't have to suffer in silence. There are a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make which will reduce the number and severity of the hot flashes and other menopause symptoms. Here are just a few things you can do that might help:
1. Give up smoking: You knew smoking wasn't good for you, but did you know that women who smoke suffer from more hot flashes and complain of worse menopause symptoms than those who don't? (1) Smoking seems to increase not only the number of hot flashes a woman experience but also the severity of each one. Ditch the cigarettes and you may find yourself suffering from fewer hot flashes.
2. Get more exercise: Studies have shown that exercise may help reduce the number of hot flashes a woman gets as well as speed up metabolism. Women who are overweight or have a higher percentage of body fat often suffer from more hot flashes than women are thin and active. According to Livestrong (2), a high body mass index, or BMI, is associated with worse hot flashes during menopause.
Exercise is also a great way to reduce your stress levels, which may help improve your mood and result in a better night of sleep.
Another benefit of a regular exercise routine is that you will have stronger bones and muscles, which will help prevent bone loss and fractures. It will also increase flexibility and mobility while improving balance.
3. Learn to relax: Anxiety, irritability, mood swings, fatigue, and lack of energy are all symptoms of menopause. Some women find that meditation helps reduce the number and severity of hot flashes while also helping them reduce stress and improve mood.
Find a quiet corner and practice slow, deep breathing on a regular basis. Even if this doesn't help you conquer your hot flashes, you may sleep better and decrease your irritability.
Yoga is beneficial as both a form of exercise and a method of relaxation.
4. Watch what you eat: Eating a balanced diet can help ensure you get enough of the right nutrients to combat osteoarthritis and heart disease, which often affect menopausal women. (3) Eat a rainbow of colors in your diet to boost overall nutrition.
Some women find eating spicy foods or drinking beverages with caffeine or alcohol can increase the number of hot flashes they suffer. Choose water and milder flavors and you may reduce the frequency of your hot flashes.
5. Stay cool: Keeping your body's core temperature cool may help reduce hot flashes. Dress in layers so you can remove clothing when you get too warm. Keep the room temperature low with fans, open windows or air conditioning. If you feel a hot flash coming on, start sipping ice water to cool yourself down from the inside out.
Dealing with menopause symptoms can be tricky, but sometimes just a few simple lifestyle changes can make this time in a woman's life easier!
1. Menopause: Smokers Have More Hot Flashes. WebMD. Retrieved November 4, 2015. http://www.webmd.com/women/news/20120503/menopause-smokers-have-more-hot-flashes
2. Hot Flashes & Exercise. LiveStrong. Retrieved November 4, 2015. http://www.livestrong.com/article/399421-hot-flashes-exercise/
3. Diseases and Conditions Menopause. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved November 4, 2015. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/basics/complications/con-20019726
Reviewed November 8, 2015 By Michele Blacksberg RNRead more in Your Guide for Menopause & Hot Flash Treatment Options