Hello lovely people, hope you have all had a good week?
So as another week rushes round (why does time always seem to go much quicker during the month of December?) It’s time once again for the DSJ Hypnotherapy weekly A- Z of Menopause. This week we are on H and I’ll be giving no prizes for what came top of my list to talk about this week…..HOT FLUSHES!!
So why do we start getting hot flushes and night sweats during perimenopause and menopause? Well, as we know, during the menopause, oestrogen levels fall and although not fully understood, scientists think that this fall in oestrogen causes a glitch in the way the hypothalamus senses body temperature, making it think that you are too hot.
Now the wave of sweating and redness to the skin we are experiencing occurs as a response designed to cool the body down. More blood goes to the small capillaries of the skin to release excess heat and sweat glands start working to release moisture that can start to cool us but when this happens in an involuntary way, as in we haven’t just been for a run or exerted ourselves in any way, it can feel very alarming.
Many women describe a ‘wave’ of heat that rises up from their legs through their body, finishing at their face. The wave can be so intense that they need to start to strip off, open windows and often even move outside to gasp in some cool air. As you can imagine this can be somewhat embarrassing, take a minute to think about what your worst moment may be to be dripping with sweat and looking like a beetroot, all for no apparent reason to the rest of the room.
In addition to this it can of course not only be uncomfortable and unpleasant at the time, but the sweating can be so profuse its like you have stepped under a shower…..try spending the rest of that important meeting with your damp hair pasted to your head and your wet blouse sticking to your back…..not to mention the wet knickers you’re now sitting in!!
This whole situation can feel totally humiliating and stressful, and there we go again, with so many perimenopause and menopause symptoms we find they are linked to an increase in stress levels. If you’ve read my previous blogs you well know by now that those emotional, stress responses are merrily dropping into our stress bucket, leading to increased anxiety and overload.
Now, here we are again, in another vicious cycle but how is stress and anxiety making this worse? So…. I mentioned earlier about the response of sweating and feeling hot in situations of exertion, but we also get those very same feelings in response to our fight or flight receptors being nudged. Don’t forget that our primitive brain is on the alert and keeping us vigilant to run away from that Polar Bear or fight that tribesman. When our stress bucket is already at overflow point we are already functioning from that primitive, negative brain as we are struggling to pull ourselves out into our intellectual brain.
So….think about a situation (perhaps you are standing in the queue at the Supermarket….that pute me straight in my primitive brain for a start…) and you start feeling a bit warm….just a wee bit warm at first….is it a flush or is it just that the shops at Christmas are so darn hot? You start to feel a little bit of panic as you know that within 30 seconds you may need to start stripping off as you will be like a furnace!! You look around and notice that the young man behind you has clocked your sweaty top lip, fidgeting and the general need to leave the building and strip in the care park and BOOM……suddenly the good old fight or flight receptor has picked up on this ‘threat to your environment’ and joins the party, and great….the experience of the warm shop has suddenly accelerated tenfold because now it’s not just about that glitchy hypothalamus, its about the whole primitive survival response….GREAT!!
I suppose what I am trying to say here folks is that we know there is a glitch going on and we know that without replacing those missing hormones that glitch may take a while to settle; but, the fact is, that a lot of those hot flushes that occur may just be a response to feeling anxious about the prospect of having a hot flush!! The Hippocampus, which is also a part of the primitive brain, is often referred to as the ‘filing cabinet’ as this is where our previous patterns of behaviour and responses are stored. If that fight or flight receptor, the Amygdala, is nudged it will refer back to a previous response that kept us alive….it is all about survival and doesn’t assess the situation in practical terms….i.e., I DON’T NEED COOLING DOWN!!
There are elements here that we may not be able to control, but what we can address is the stress and anxiety around those hot flushes. The error in the system is there but the anxiety around the problem is just like adding fuel to those fires, exacerbating the problem, and allowing it to move from being an uncomfortable inconvenience to ruling your life.
So how do you reclaim the power to take command of this issue? As you know by now, when we use Hypnotherapy trance during our sessions, the specifically designed language patterns are replicating the REM process, thus allowing us to work on emptying that bucket as the emotional responses are pulled through from our subconscious mind to be processed in your intellectual brain. As a result, you’re left feeling calmer, and symptoms (although they still may be present to a degree) become manageable because they are not being ignited with all of that extra negative fuel. When we team the hypnotherapy with our Solution Focused Psychotherapy work, we work on keeping you in that Intellectual by focusing on ways to release the happy hormone of Serotonin.
Personally, my issue was night sweats….’oh that’s not so bad’ some might say….’what’s adding to your stress levels there?’ Nobody is looking at you!! Believe me it is absolutely no fun when you wake up so soaked through that you need to change bedding at 3 am. You wake up night after night drenched and uncomfortable, you kick the covers off and then you freeze because its December and your house is like an ice box at that time of the night, and you are laying there soaking wet!!
Your sleep is terrible as a result and you’re functioning the next day is at a pretty slow pace. Surprise, surprise….my anxiety is rising, lots to do at work……not getting it done…feeling useless…go to bed stressed out and that’s when, even though I have finally nodded off, my lovely protective primitive brain has decided its time to step in and release a bit of adrenaline to keep me going and…..oops…here we go again.
As many of you know, I became a hypnotherapist specialising in Menopause due to all of these experiences and the difference Hypnotherapy made for me…….being given the tools for the job to manage my overall symptoms is what kept me sane and got me through it. As a result my passion for the process is just endless…….why not give me a call for an informal chat as we all want to be living our best life!!
See my Contact page for details.