The British summer has finally arrived, and despite the lack of sunshine at times, the heat is now here. I know many people, especially midlife women, find this uncomfortable. And, unless you plan on spending the next 2 and a half months lying in a swimming pool, you need some other ways to keep cool.
Menopausal women who can find this time of year especially uncomfortable, can suffer from the dreaded ‘hot flushes’ throughout the year, even when it’s snowing out! Approximately 75-80% of midlife women in menopause will have a hot flush.
Hot Flush or Hot Flash?
Women experience hot flushes, also known as hot flashes, due to hormonal fluctuations that occur primarily during menopause. During this natural transition, the ovaries gradually produce less oestrogen, leading to imbalances in the body. Hot flushes are one of the more common symptoms experienced by menopausal women and can be attributed to changes in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for regulating body temperature. However, not all women going through menopause will experience hot flashes. When oestrogen levels drop, the hypothalamus mistakenly detects an increase in body temperature and triggers mechanisms to cool down the body. The body responds by dilating blood vessels and increasing blood flow to the skin, attempting to cool down. This response leads to the sudden sensation of intense heat, often accompanied by sweating, rapid heartbeat, and flushed skin. While the exact causes and triggers of hot flushes may vary among women, hormonal changes during menopause play a significant role in their occurrence.
Quick tips to keep cool
There are many quick ways to keep cool during the menopause and during the summer weather:
Keep a fan handy for a fresh bit of breeze whilst you are stuck on the train or somewhere else equally stuffy.
Wear looser and lighter fitting clothing. Opt for breathable fabrics such as cotton or linen.
Drink lots of water, with a sprinkle of salt. When we sweat excessively, we lose our body’s natural salts. Salts are essential in helping our body retain water. If you avoid salt in your diet, it is recommended that you add a little to your water or drink isotonic beverages during heat waves. This will help prevent dehydration, which can occur with excessive sweating. Symptoms of dehydration include intense thirst, headache, weakness, nausea and vomiting. In more serious cases, it can result in illness. These symptoms are caused by poor hydration of the body’s organs and inadequate control of body temperature.
Avoid spicy foods and too much caffeine.
Take a cool shower in the evening.
Keep a spray bottle filled with cool water nearby and spritz yourself occasionally to provide instant relief. I like to add a little citrus essential oil to mine.
Lemon Iced Tea
If you do need caffeine, I have a quick recipe here for you for iced tea, that I love and find refreshing.
Boil your water as normal.
Place your teabag of choice in a large pint glass. Add sweetener or sugar if you wish.
Add a splash of lemon juice.
Fill the glass with ice.
When the water has finished boiling, pour it into your glass over the ice.
Stir until you get the right consistency of tea for yourself. Add more ice if you wish.
Drink and enjoy.
The summer time is also associated with the Ayurvedic dosha- Pitta. The pitta dosha is associated with fire. So, adding fire to fire sometimes can be really uncomfortable in the menopause. Adding yogic cooling breath can help cool the fire in our bellies, making us less irritable along the way. Some yogic practises suggest Sitali breath, where we roll the tongue and breathe in cooling the air along the funnel that the tongue makes. This breathing technique works by passing the breath over the tongue and cooling the body from the inside. However, not everyone can roll their tongue, so I have a simpler and just as effective technique for you called Straw Breath.
Imagine you are holding a straw between pursed lips, ready to drink in a large, icy beverage.
Inhale slowly and for as long as you can through the pursed lips.
Hold the cooled breath for 1-2 seconds, before slowly exhaling through the nose.
Repeat for 15-20 rounds.
If you want to see me demonstrating this breathing technique, head over to my Instagram page by following this link.