Having to deal with hot flashes (or flushes) can be stressful. In fact, evidence shows that stress is a trigger of this uncomfortable and common symptom of menopause. With this new finding, stress-reducing and serotonin-enhancing habits (including paced breathing exercises) can provide relief, says Michael Goodman, MD and certified menopause practitioner.
These are thought to be useful, as breathing exercises produce a relaxation response which leads to a corresponding reduction of the neurochemicals produced by stress. The neurochemicals not only increase core temperature. But they also narrow the 'temperature neutral zone' in the brain - the range in which you don't shiver or sweat. This therefore makes hot flashes more common. Here are three breathing exercises you can try to reduce hot flashes:
1. Steady and slow
This simple yet effective breathing technique keeps the mind free from thoughts.
1. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, touching the ridge between your teeth and palate.
2. Breathe in through your nose and out through your pursed lips, filling and emptying your lungs with air.
3. As you inhale, slowly count to 4, filling the bottom of your lungs with air. As you exhale, count to 4 again filling the top of your lungs with air.
4. At the bottom of your exhale, hold your breath for a count of 6 than repeat the breathing pattern for a minimum of 4 times or a maximum of 8, keeping your tongue placed on that ridge between your teeth.
2. 'Anapana' respiration
An ancient Buddhist breath meditation. The goal is to keep your attention focused on the small area between your nostrils and upper lip.
1. Start by breathing normally, in and out through the nose. Pay close attention to every sensation in this area.
2. Feel the breath as it passes in and out through your nose. Feel it stirring nose hairs, feel it cooler going in and warmer when exiting.
3. Continue to breathe in this way and notice and watch those sensations pass as quickly as they come.
4. If you feel your attention wander, let the thoughts go and return your attention to the one small area under your nose and above your lips.
5. Repeat this breathing exercise for a minimum of 5 minutes, or until you feel completely relaxed.
3. Paced respirations
This breathing technique can be used as a first line therapy for women with menopausal hot flashes. It is a slow and deliberate deep breathing exercises sustained for a specific period of time. This breathing exercise takes a total of 6 to 8 breaths per minute. Over time, this breathing exercise can reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes.
1. Count slowly up to five as you inhale. Once you have inhaled completely, exhale slowly for the same count.
2. To help keep you mind focused on the breath, silently say 1000 between each one.
3. Commit to this breath twice a day for a total of 15 minutes.