Fuel for the Fire of Hot Flushes

Stress can “add fuel to the fire” of hot flushes. When women feel stressed in some way, they may experience the physical manifestations associated with the hot flush (such as warm, visible flushing or sweating) that cause additional stress or give others the exaggerated appearance that we are not in control.
But how is stress associated with hot flushes? The temperature controlling, or thermoregulatory, centers in a woman’s brain area are in close proximity to estrogen receptors, as well as epinephrine and norepinephrine receptors. During stress, your body undergoes various degrees of the “flight or fight” response, and releases both norepinephrine and epinephrine. These contribute to heightened attention and anxiety, as well as an increased pulse rate as our bodies adjust to deal with the stressful event.

The released epinephrine and norepinephrine can potentially stimulate estrogen receptors, causing fluctuations in estrogenic response. We know that some women are very susceptible to changes in estrogenicity and more prone to subsequent hot flushes.

Stress reduction can help reduce the incidents of hot flushes. By helping to keep the body in a steady state, hot flushes can be prevented.

Simple Stress Reducers
Any type of relaxation exercise can help control and reduce hot flushes. These exercises include yoga, meditation and physical exercise, as well as many other forms of relaxation. It is important to find out which technique works best for you. If one technique is not working, try another one until you find the calming, relaxing techniques that work best for you.

One simple technique that works for me is something I learned in mind-body training at Harvard. This is something that you can do any time, doesn’t need an extended physical space, and no one need know you are doing it. Here is an example of the relaxation technique:

Take a deep cleansing breath in and out.

Slowly (and silently) count from one to five, and then backward from five to one. If necessary, repeat this technique going from one to four, then four to one, then from one to three, then from three to one, etc., and back down to zero.

Another technique might be:

Take a deep cleansing breath in and out.
Close your eyes and think of a place you find relaxing. Try to imagine yourself in this setting for a few moments. Obviously, you don’t want to do this while driving or operating any type of machinery.

April 18th, 2012 - Posted in Medicines | | Comments Off

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