“Everything started melting.” That’s the way former First Lady Michelle Obama described a hot flash that occurred on Marine One moments before she was scheduled to make an appearance at a public event. “Literally it was like someone put a furnace in my core and turned it on high,” she said in a conversation with Dr. Sharon Malone on her “Michelle Obama Podcast.”
Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause, and they don’t care if you are in the middle of a presentation, having lunch with your friends, or even if you are the First Lady of the United States of America. They will strike whenever and wherever, leaving you flushed, flustered, and feeling like a hot mess. And while you may feel the additional heat of embarrassment as the sweat starts to pour, remember that menopause is a normal part of a woman’s life and there is no reason to feel ashamed of the changes your body is going through. In fact, acknowledging and addressing the issue head on with family, friends, and coworkers can go a long way in removing some of the stigma around aging and menopause, and make you feel more comfortable, mentally.
As far as being more comfortable physically? Before you lock yourself in the house and crank the air conditioner on high, try these four tips to help you keep your cool the next time things really start to heat up.
Consider Your Clothing
Dealing with your fluctuating body temperatures is easier when you dress the part. Wear light, cool clothing in breathable fabrics, and layer pieces that can be easily removed such as blazers, jackets, or cardigans. That way, when things heat up, you can strip down.
Skip the Spice
This is not the time to say “yes” to the zest on your favorite dishes. Hot or spicy foods can raise your body temperature, which can fan the flames of a flash. Stick to cold sandwiches, salads, or noodle and pasta dishes. Keep seasonings mild. Try a chilled gazpacho rather than a steaming soup, or swap your favorite hot latte for one served over ice. Above all, don’t forget to hydrate! Nothing keeps you cool like a glass of ice-cold water. Keep an insulated water bottle close by and sip it all day long to keep flashes at bay.
Have you ever noticed how hot you get when you feel stressed, rushed, or anxious? Like spicy foods, stress can raise your core temperature and trigger a hot flash. We know you can’t avoid all stresses, but identify the things you can control in order to make your day easier. Lay your work clothes out the night before a big meeting. Don’t wait until the last minute to finish a project or assignment. Map out your route and give yourself plenty of time to make it to your destinations. Anything you can do to create a calming environment can help you keep a cool head—and body!
Handle It With Humor
Even if you take all of our suggestions, there is still a chance that your inner furnace will turn on when you least expect it. Relax, roll with it, and remember that you are not the first, nor will you be the last woman who has had to deal with this. Trying to hide it or pretend it isn’t happening will only add to your discomfort and make it worse. Instead, acknowledge it, laugh it off, and move on. The more at ease you are in the situation, the more at ease the people around you will be too and, hopefully, we can start to remove the stigma associated with women and aging altogether.