Any new recommendations for staying calm and collected?

What’s feeling like chronic stress is triggering more hot flashes and affecting my sleep.

It’s a trying time to stay calm and collected! I think my first recommendation is to treat yourself with some grace and acceptance. Unrealistic expectations can cause us even more stress, sending that spiral in the wrong direction! It doesn’t seem reasonable to me for us to expect ourselves to be cheerful and calm all the time; it’s more helpful to me to say, “Yes, it’s natural that I’m feeling stressed. No wonder! And here are the things I’ll do to move on…”

The current environment makes “the basics” even more important. My yoga habit has remained really important to me, for the mindfulness as well as the physical exercise. If that’s not something you do, you might consider what other forms of meditation might be comfortable; taking a moment to devote all of your attention to yourself can help you reset. 

My patients think I’m a broken record on this topic, but… exercise! It has proven benefits for both stress reduction and as part of what’s inelegantly called “sleep hygiene.” Ask friends for recommendations of—or search for—online workout videos for circuit training in your living room or basement. It doesn’t need to be wildly ambitious: You can start where you are, even with a circuit around your yard. Build as you’re able to. If you’re not able to get outside, a staircase is a great “indoor gym” available to many of us. 

I’ve also heard from a number of women that this season has encouraged them to rediscover something they’d found calming at another time of life (or only in their imaginations): adult coloring books, knitting, watercolors, quilting, reading binges, board games. You may not be able to make social connections in the ways you’re used to, but friends and family help us stay grounded. If you can’t be together in person, use FaceTime or Zoom for a virtual happy hour, talk on the phone, or send a handwritten note so someone knows you’re thinking of them. 

And care for yourself enough to contact your health care provider if you’re feeling really stuck. Menopause already presents some mood challenges; this may be a time when an antidepressant or anti-anxiety med can get your spiral going in the right direction.