Hot flushes at work can be hard to handle. Laurel Brown knows all too well the challenges of trying to run a meeting while feeling like her body is on fire.
The 48-year-old has spent the past two years managing hot flushes while holding down her job in a marketing agency. She says: “The hot flushes would come over me all of a sudden. I’d get this really exaggerated feeling of anxiety and a pounding heart."
Laurel shares her advice on how to manage hot flushes at work.
Laurel recommends finding a good private location at work for those moments when you experience a hot flush.
“I clearly remember one time when I’d just finished a meeting with my manager and as I left her office a hot flush hit me,” Laurel says. “I ducked into an adjacent media room to allow myself some privacy to compose myself."
Laurel’s hot flushes came and went quickly, so often all she needed to do was remove herself from her colleagues for short periods of time to recompose. She says she either used her private composure place or ducked off to make a cup of tea, get a glass of water or take a toilet break.
Sometimes Laurel felt she needed to physically remove herself from the office to ride through her menopause symptoms.
“If my symptoms suddenly became quite severe, I’d just take an early tea or lunch break and go outside, usually to a nearby park. I’d sit for five or ten minutes and breathe through it,” she says.
Laurel found a short span of deep breathing was effective if she felt uncomfortable while with a client or in a meeting. Try breathing in quietly for a count of five, then exhale for another count of five and repeat two or three times. It probably won’t prevent the hot flush from coming on but it might help keep you calmer so you don’t feel stressed out and make it worse.
There are a few different ways to help keep cool when a hot flush hits. Start with your clothing – choose breathable fabrics and consider a number of layers you can easily strip off when the sweats starts.
Position yourself near the aircon during the summer months. During the warmer ones, try to get near a window or alternatively, using a handheld fan. You could even consider keeping a small fan on your desk.
Keep a stash of wet wipes and cooling gel packs in your desk drawer. They can be handy in meetings for a discreet hand or arm wipe down. Most important of all, drink lots of water. Have a drink bottle nearby at all times and add some ice for extra chill.
Laurel suggests being honest about how you're feeling.
She says: “You might think you’ll be ostracised or displaying weakness but to me, the opposite is true. I’d think ‘Geez, that’s one smart woman for recognising she needs space to deal with her symptoms’ and I’d help however I could.”
There are different treatment options available, including menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) that can help alleviate your symptoms. Chat to your doctor about your options. Take our handy symptom checklist with you.
Pfizer Australia Pty Limited. Pfizer Medical Information: 1800 675 229. Level 15-18, 151 Clarence St, Sydney, NSW, 2000. PP-DUA-AUS-0187, 09/2017