“Ever wonder why so many of us women camp out in the freezer section at Costco?” my friend asked me the other day while she was having a full-blown hot flash. “Having been suddenly and mysteriously assaulted by our own sweat glands, and fearful of destroying our makeup and outfits,” she explained, “we’re seeking relief.”
To my knowledge, the “Handbook for Handling Hot Flashes” (HHHF) has not yet been written. But if it had been, according to the many women I’ve asked since learning about this Costco syndrome, the book would probably advise women to do the following:
- Vent. Find a constructive outlet for the frustration, humiliation, and utter yuckiness that comes with the hormonal changes associated with menopause. That is, say your “Aw shits!”
- Take refuge at Costco—or any other store that has a frozen-food section—and make yourself comfortable.
- Tell your partner, kids, close friends, parents, and co-workers how they can best support you during a flash . . . as in “Just don’t say ANYTHING!”
- Drop the shame. You’re human, and this is a rather unpleasant, yet unavoidable, part of being a woman.
- Rededicate yourself to a natural anti-aging lifestyle that comes with a great diet and regular exercise (especially yoga).
- Avoid putting a quick-fix, positive spin on what you’re going through. It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself (for a little while).
- Take inventory of all the good things that are happening to you and that are coming into your life.
- Consult with knowledgeable, experienced, and caring experts who possess an intimate understanding of traditional and nontraditional approaches to menopause, and see what works for you.
- Do the best you can under the circumstances. Perhaps read the Serenity Prayer; and cultivate calmness, kindness, surrender, and peace through daily mindfulness practices.
- Make time for joy, fun, and curiosities that help you grow, stretch, and feel alive.
Note to Any Men Reading This: If you’re a caring husband, son, brother, cousin, nephew, friend, or colleague, the HHHF would urge you to stay humble and empathetic. You’re about as likely to have a clue about the nature of hot flashes as you are about what it’s like to have—or stop having—your period. You are, however, capable of being enormously patient, understanding, and supportive, much as you’d want your wife, sister, daughter, aunt, lover, woman friend, or co-worker to be with you as you deal with the unwelcome physical aspects of aging.
Coming to terms with our changing biology as we get older requires newfound courage. I teach people how to summon this type of courage in my workshops, and I write about it in my new book, Courageous Aging: Your Best Years Ever Reimagined.
In addition to taking advantage of a good scream room . . . patience, self-compassion, a sense of humor, and humility are traits that will help you turn adVERSity into the better VERSion of yourself. Whether you’re a woman having a hot flash or a man suffering one of the many disquieting side effects of “Low T” (that is, testosterone deficiency), keep the faith—you can do this!