If you’re suffering through hot flashes, relief might be closer than you think. According to a study published in Maturitas: The European Menopause Journal, women who practiced self-compassion were less likely to report that hot flashes interfering with their lives and messing with their moods.
Australian researchers questioned 206 women (aged 40 to 60) who were experiencing the telltale menopause sign and measured their levels of self-compassion using questions like, “When I see aspects of my personality that I don’t like, I get down on myself.” They found that those who ranked higher on measures of self-compassion reported that their hot flashes interfered less with their daily lives than women who didn’t show themselves the same level of kindness.
So how exactly does being nice to yourself make the experience of suddenly sweating buckets less miserable? “Hot flushes and night sweats can trigger a range of challenging thoughts and emotions that contribute to the burden of the experience,” says Lydia Brown, lead study author and PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne. “If a woman wakes up in the middle of the night in a sweat, she may feel frustrated because her sleep was disturbed, and anxious that she may not feel refreshed in the morning as a consequence. This mental arousal prolongs the experience, and makes returning to sleep even more difficult.”
Resisting the urge to get frustrated when a hot flash strikes sounds easier said than done, but the principal behind it is simple. “Self-compassion involves responding to one's own suffering with the same tenderness as one would when soothing a child or loved one who is hurt,” says Brown. She suggests placing a hand over your heart when you feel the heat hit and thinking about a loved one to put yourself in the right headspace. “A friendly emotional tone paired with self-accepting thoughts becomes a powerful strategy to ease the burden of hot flashes and night sweats.