Hot flashes are among the most common symptoms women experience during the menopause transition and almost all women have hot flashes at some time in their lives. The severity of hot flashes varies and can have an impact on sleep, mood, sexuality, and overall quality of life.
In a recent NIH study, hypnotic relaxation therapy was shown to reduce hot flashes by 80%. Hypnotic relaxation involves a state of deep relaxation and the use of mental imagery to reduce hot flashes and actually bring feelings of coolness.
Here are the 10 steps to successful practice of hypnotic relaxation to reduce hot flashes:
1. Find a quiet place to practice hypnotic relaxation where you won't be interrupted.
You can either lay down in bed or sit in a recliner with good support for your head, neck, and shoulders. So that you're aware of your feelings, it can be helpful to rate your level of relaxation on a 0-10 scale. (For this exercise, 0=not relaxed and 10=completely relaxed.)
2. Focus your attention on a spot on the wall or ceiling.
As you concentrate, begin to allow your body to relax. Concentrate intently on the spot on the wall, so that other things begin to fade into the background.
3. As your eyes close, increase awareness of internal feelings.
Now, take a deep breath of air and as you breathe out, let your eyelids close. Notice the feelings of breathing in and out. With each breath, begin to think the word relax silently to yourself.
4. Imagine a “wave of relaxation” spreading from the top of your head to your feet.
You may want to count the numbers from 10 to 1 and with each number, drift deeper and deeper relaxed.
5. Allow yourself to feel emotionally calm and peaceful.
This can be achieved by letting go of any worries or concerns and becoming more aware of calm and peaceful feelings within yourself.
6. Reduce critical and judgmental thinking.
A hypnotic state is characterized by being open to positive suggestions and a non-judgmental attitude. This will help you to experience mental imagery more vividly.
7. Experience “safe-place” mental imagery.
Now, imagine being in a place where you feel safe and deeply relaxed. This could be at a beach or walking through the mountains.
8. Create mental imagery for “coolness.”
This could include such things as imagining a cool breeze, snow around you, or standing under a waterfall.
9. Give yourself post-hypnotic suggestions.
Suggest that you will continue to feel calm and relaxed every day and that hot flashes will become less frequent and less severe.
10. Gently return to conscious alertness.
Now, think the numbers 1 to 4 to yourself and gently return to conscious alertness as your eyelids open. Make sure you're fully alert and rate your level of relaxation again. (As a reminder, 0=not relaxed at all and 10=completely relaxed.)
You may be surprised at how deeply relaxed you have become!