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Cool Ideas For Hot Women by Pat Duckworth

Summer 2014

As a Cognitive Hypnotherapist I have worked with many women clients in the 45 – 65 age range which is when most women experience menopause. They seek help for a range of issues including poor sleep, weight gain, low mood, lack of confidence, and hot flashes. Although these can all be indicators of the menopause, very few of these clients specifically mention the ‘M’ word. Is that because they don’t think that hypnotherapy can help with menopause symptoms? If so, I am here to tell you that it can.

Menopause is not an illness. It is a natural phase of a woman’s life and there are many actions that women can take to ensure that they stay healthy and fit. My clients learn more about how their mind can affect their body and learn techniques to enable their mind to change and control physical symptoms.

What is the menopause?

The term menopause is often used to refer to the years of women’s lives either side of their last menstrual period. It is sometimes called ‘the change’ or ‘time of life’. Menopause is actually a woman’s last menstrual period. She will only know that this was her last period when she has not had a menstrual bleed for 12 months. Perimenopause refers to the years on either side of the last menstrual period.

Menopause can occur as early as 45 or not until 55 but the average age in the UK is 52. Women can start to experience menopausal symptoms in their early 40s as the balance of their hormones starts to change and they enter into the perimenopause.

Premature ovarian failure or POF refers to menopause that occurs before the age of 40. This happens in 1 to 4 per cent of women. Early menopause can be precipitated by illnesses and medical interventions including radiotherapy and hysterectomy, but in up to 70 per cent of cases there is no obvious medical reason. In these cases it is advisable to seek medical investigation.

Men experience some menopausal type symptoms as their hormone levels change in later life. This period is known as ‘andropause’. Symptoms can include body shape changes, weight gain, hot flashes, and mood swings.

There are a number of factors that affect the nature of the menopausal symptoms women experience.

  • Genetics. One indication of possible experience is what happened to the woman’s mother and her close female relatives during their menopause.
  • Diet. The quantity and quality of nutrition prior to menopause will influence the experience of symptoms.
  • Lifestyle. There are a number of lifestyle factors that have been shown to affect menopausal symptoms including exercise, smoking, and drinking alcohol.

All of this means that women do not have to be a victim of their genes. The decisions they take all through their life about their diet, exercise, and lifestyle will have an equally significant effect on their experience of menopause and their health in later life. It’s never too early to plan for a healthy menopause and it is never too late to have a healthy lifestyle.

Symptoms Include:

  • Tension
  • Mood swings Depression Forgetfulness
  • Poor or interrupted sleep Weight change Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness or faintness Heart pounding
  • Night sweat
  • Irregular periods Heavier/lighter periods Breast tenderness Abdominal bloating
  • Hot Flashes

Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms that send women to see their doctors when they are going through the perimenopause. About 60% of women experience hot flashes and/or night sweats and of those, 70% experience them for a year and 30% for about 5 years (Foxcroft, 2009). The intensity and duration of hot flashes varies from woman to woman. During a hot flash the blood vessels dilate, increasing the flow of blood to the skin, most noticeably to the face, neck, and chest but also in the back. A rise in temperature is accompanied by sensations of heat, sometimes overwhelming, followed by sweating and cooling down. Some women also experience increased heart rate, dizziness, faintness, and nausea. A hot flash generally lasts between 3 and 5 minutes.

Not every woman who has hot flashes also has night sweats but if they have hot flashes at night they can wake up hot and drenched in sweat. Night sweats may occur several times a night and can result in interrupted sleep. It is important to note that night sweats can be related to non-menopausal issues such as stress and clients should consult their doctor if they are unsure of the cause.

Several recent studies (2012) have concluded that women who lose weight could experience fewer menopausal symptoms including hot flashes. A study by the journal, Menopause, found that women who followed a low-fat, high fruit, vegetable and fibre diet lost weight and had significantly reduced hot flashes and night sweats. One reason for this could be that body fat can prevent heat loss because it acts as insulation.

Nutrition

There are changes that women can make to their diet that will help them to balance their hormones.

  • Eliminate symptom triggers from the diet – identify these by keeping a daily journal of
    symptoms and food and drink. Common triggers include sugar, caffeine, chocolate, alcohol,
    and spicy foods.
  • Drink plenty of water and or non-caffeinated drinks.
  • Include phytoestrogens in the diet to balance hormones for example:
    • Isoflavines – soya, chickpeas, lentils, and kidney beans
    • Lignans – flaxseeds (linseeds), sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, brown rice, oats,
      broccoli, and carrots
  • Coumestans – found in sprouted mung beans and alfalfa beans
  • Eat more omega 3 fatty acids – found in sardines, salmon, mackerel, and flaxseeds
    (linseeds).

For best effect eat organic, unprocessed foods whenever possible.

Hypnotherapy Techniques

Visualisation is a powerful technique for helping women to control hot flushes. If you are new to visualisation you may need to practice by picturing familiar objects such as your front door, or your car or your partner’s face. If you continue to find these techniques difficult, you may need to try a technique using a different sense such as sound or feeling.

  1. Cool Visualisations

Walking in the rain.

Picture yourself looking out of your window watching it raining outside. Cool, Spring rain. Now, picture yourself going to the door and stepping outside, feeling the rain gently falling on your head, running down your hair and face, cool and refreshing. As you continue to walk out in the shower, a gentle breeze is blowing. You can feel the coolness all over your body, spreading down from your head, though your shoulders, your chest, down though your stomach all the way down to your feet. Carry on imagining being outside in the rain for as long you want to and really enjoy that cool feeling.

Put out the furnace.

Imagine a furnace inside you that is spreading heat all through your body. The furnace is glowing red, you can see flames inside and there are sparks flying out of the top. Now, imagine taking a hose and starting to spray water all over the furnace. See the water cooling off the furnace, the sparks die away and the flames are put out. The colour gradually fades away as the furnace cools down and the water continues to flow over it from the top to the bottom.

  1. Control Panel
  • Visualise a central control room in your head. It has all the dials and indicators that control the balance of the body.
  • Find the control panel for your body temperature. Put a scale on the control from 1 to 10 where 1 is cold, 5 is comfortable and 10 is very hot. Colour the
    numbers from 1 to 3 white, 4 to 7 is blue and the numbers 8,9 and 10 red.
  • Notice where your body temperature is on that scale at the moment. See what number the indicator is pointing at.
  • Now move the indicator on your scale up towards 10. As you do that notice how the temperature in your body changes.
  • Now move the indicator on your scale down towards 1 and notice again how the temperature in your body changes.
  • Once you can easily access your temperature control, practice moving it up and down so that whenever you start to feel too warm you can just adjust the control to level that’s comfortable for you.

NB: If you find visualisation difficult, you can use the kinaesthetic technique. Raise your arm straight out in front of you. Imagine the position of your arm if you were boiling hot, comfortable and then freezing cold. Relax and allow your unconscious mind to move your arm to indicate your current temperature. You can then raise and lower your arm to control your temperature.

  1. Self-hypnosis

Self-hypnosis is a useful technique for getting back to sleep during the night and you can also use it to relax and de-stress during the day.

  1. Sit or lay down comfortably in a quiet room where you know you will not be disturbed for at least 15 minutes. Make any adjustments to be completely comfortable.
  2. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing without trying to change it. Notice your thoughts and let them just slip away.
  3. Send your attention around your body noticing any sensations or aches and pains without judging them or putting any meaning to them.
  4. Start letting go of any tension in your body. Beginning at your toes, tense them and then relax them. Flex your feet and relax them. Move up your body tensing and relaxing your muscles.
  5. When your attention gets to your head, clench and relax your jaw. Imagine your cheeks and then the top of your head being gently massaged.
  6. Continue to breathe slowly and deeply. Recognise how relaxed you are feeling. You may feel like you are floating or sinking. You can use that feeling and send yourself a positive message by repeating an affirmation to yourself for example ‘I am cool and comfortable.’ or ‘I am drifting off into deep and refreshing sleep.’ or ‘I am successful and positive.’ Repeat your statement as many times as seems appropriate.
  7. If you are going through this process at night, you can let yourself drift off to sleep. If you are relaxing during the day you can let your consciousness return to the room, noticing your surroundings and saying out loud ‘Wide Awake’ or ‘Back in the room.’