“In the midst of a hot flash, rather than thinking ‘oh no, here we go again!’...think ‘it’s OK; I am there for you in this moment of suffering,”...
Would you believe that you can relieve your hot flashes with the power of your mind? (Cue sci-fi music here). A new study from Australia has shown that women who are more forgiving of themselves and show themselves compassion can actually have an easier time with hot flashes.
The leader of the study explains why in an interview to Reuters:
“It isn’t just the physiology of a hot flash that can be stressful. It is also the thoughts, feelings and interpretations that surround the experience,” said Lydia Brown. She led the study at the University of Melbourne in Australia, where she is a doctoral candidate in psychology.
During a hot flash or any other unpleasant event, thoughts can easily begin to spiral downward. Yet, “If a woman can treat herself with tenderness and friendliness in the moment of suffering from a hot flash, the negative whirlwind cannot get a foothold.”
How do we practice self-compassion? Many of us cannot imagine a day without finding something about ourselves to criticize or get down about.
Here’s an easy suggestion from the study’s authors:
“In the midst of a hot flash, rather than thinking ‘oh no, here we go again!’ a self-compassionate alternative would be to think ‘it’s ok; I am there for you in this moment of suffering,” said Brown.
Another key facet of self-compassion is mindfulness, which involves being aware of what one is experiencing in the present moment in a way that doesn’t peg a given emotion, sensation or event as good or bad.
“With curiosity and a non-judgmental attitude, a woman could notice the changing sensations that make up a hot flash,” Brown said.
“When the experience is broken down to its constituents through mindfulness, it becomes less overwhelming, and so has less power to interfere with daily life,” she said.
Probably the most well-known mindfulness practitioner is Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which aims to help you cope with stress, depression, and daily life through greater awareness, meditation, and being in the present moment.
Tthere’s a powerful lesson here—not just for helping hot flashes, but a way to live life in general.
How many of us are guilty of overthinking things, worrying, analyzing, and blaming ourselves?
If we could all look at stressful things in our lives objectively, learn how to take a step back, we would be better able to deal with them.
So the next time you’re running late, you get bad news, or that wave of heat and sweat begins to prickle your skin, take a moment to be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. Tell yourself that everything is going to be okay. Take a step back and breathe. It’s going to be okay. You are doing great! You ARE great.