Don't Forget to Breathe!

Who knew that deep breathing and relaxation techniques might help relieve both stress and the severity and frequency of hot flashes! In particular, paced respiration, word repetition and meditation have helped peri- and post-menopausal women relax and work through hot flashes.

Paced respiration. Paced respiration is slow, controlled, deep, rhythmic breathing that is sustained for a specified period of time.

  • Sit in a straight-back chair with both feet on the floor.
  • Rest hands on your abdomen.
  • Slowly count to four while inhaling through the nose and feel the abdomen rise.
  • Hold that breath for a second.
  • Then, slowly count to four while exhaling through the mouth – letting the abdomen slowly fall.
  • Repeat this exercise for 15 minutes twice a day at the beginning of a hot flash.

Word repetition. This technique is about repeating a word, sound, phrase or muscle movement.

  • Pick a focus word or short phrase that you’re comfortable with.
  • Sit quietly in a comfortable position and close your eyes.
  • Relax your muscles, starting with your feet and moving to your calves, thighs, abdomen, shoulders, neck, and head.
  • Breathe slowly and naturally, saying your focus word, sound, or phrase silently to yourself as you exhale.
  • If other thoughts filter in, return to your repetition.
  • Continue for 10 to 20 minutes once or twice a day.

Meditation. Simple meditation is another mindful technique.

  • Sit in a comfortable position, either in a chair or on the floor, with proper posture (straight back and neck).
  • Take a couple of deep, cleansing breaths.
  • Close your eyes and breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Focus on each breath – slowly breathing in and out. (Again, if your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breath.)
  • Start with 5 to 10 minutes of meditation and work up to 15 to 20 minutes or more daily.

Perform some form of paced respiration or other relaxation technique every day – trying to make it a part of your regular schedule. You can do it anytime. To start, schedule the technique first thing in the morning before breakfast or at the end of your workday. Once you learn a technique that works for you, you can go to it when a hot flash starts to take your mind off the discomfort. Try it out.

The material on this website is provided for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.