The winter holiday season can quickly twist into a tangle of emotions, logistics, dates, delights, and indulgences. This forthcoming season of gathering and giving comes with a long list of additional chores for an already-busy life for a woman in midlife and perimenopause.
Before your stress-levels shift up to the next gear, take a big breath, and scan for ideas that will help you take all the season has to offer in stride. Why? Stress can exacerbate and intensify the most inconvenient and least-fun of the current menopause symptoms you’ve been experiencing in your regular life. A few ideas to get your "scan started":
How will I remember to... drink water during the busy times... or at least get more uncaffeinated, non-caloric liquids in my body?
How can I get my best... sleep? I'm going to want to experience that during the holidays too.
Lately, it's been difficult to... find time for lunch (or whatever meal or task that feels good to accomplish). What would make getting this done easier?
Let's jump in for more ideas and get you set up, rather than stressed out.
A quick debrief: how did last year shake out?
- What, if anything, happened last winter that spiked your overwhelm or anxiety?
- Did anything happen specifically that sparked a feeling of sadness? Loneliness? Depression? Joy? Belonging? Calm? Contentedness? Peace?
- Did anything happen last year that blew your mind (in a good way)?
- What, if anything, from last year, would you like to repeat and enjoy again this year?
Checking in so you can make a plan
- Can you identify the top 3 things that may inspire overwhelm, anxiety, or loneliness this year? (family, finances, life changes, too much temptation?)
- How are you feeling about shopping? For food, gifts, or decorations?
- If people are coming to your place, what about cleaning, menu planning, and food prep?
What are the top 5 things (yes, small things) that could give you more energy, focus, peace, and presence?
- A new calming ritual, prayer, or practice?
- More water? We all get a little more dehydrated (and our skin gets drier too) in the winter, especially so if menopause is in play.
- A stretch outside? A little fresh air and a new perspective can really help reinvigorate and refocus during a busy time.
- A check-in or call with a good friend or loved one?
What subjects are lately igniting your system to insta-rage?
The more specific you can be, the better you can make a plan to minimize or avoid your triggers.
- The chores and tasks in cleaning the house (or lack of help from others in the house)?
- Attempting to accommodate a host of food sensitivities single-handedly?
- Clutter around the house?
- The sound of people chewing food, slurping soup, or chugging drinks? Yes, this is definitely a thing: it’s called Misphonia.
It doesn’t matter what it is… but what is it? And hey, irrational is okay. Awareness of what triggers you to anger can only help you to make a good plan for the holiday at hand.
Making your plan
Once identified, stay with it, and ask, “What would help?” or, “What would be easier?”
How about, “What would be more fun, or more natural, and still accomplish what I’m going for?”
Here are a few options to help minimize the frantic feels and manage your stress for the long season of good cheer.
Instead of doing it all...
- If the thought of buying, writing, addressing, and sending out holiday greetings already makes you feel overworked, overtaxed, and pretty much over it, consider postponing your notes ‘til some later time in the new year. Spring greetings? Summer kickoffs? Heck, no one will be completely offended if you press pause on this project this year, will they?
- Get pickier. How about this season you only do your favorites, and your family’s favorites? Consider placing a max on the number of outings or celebrations you’ll do in a week or weekend. This may help alleviate the stress that comes with overindulging, overbooking, which can also lead to overbuying, and maybe a few other “overs.”
- The year of taking breaks. This could be your year of swiping several 5-10 minute breaks throughout the coming weeks to just "be." A little push-back for self-care may be just the thing. (Consider using 30-seconds to take an initial menopause assessment.)
In place of buying it all…
- Is there something fun to make as a token gift that won’t break the bank? Perhaps you’ve been meaning to attempt to make homemade limoncello? How about handcrafted caramels? Is there someone (or two) you’d love to spend more time with, who may be up for a kitchen adventure with you?
- Assemble and wrap it up. Invite a few people over for an evening of assembling and wrapping. Have them bring their papers, ribbons, and you share your tape. If you share all of the resources, you’ll have variety, ideas, and fun all in one night. You might be surprised at how much fun this can be, plus, you’ll have a shared gift of time and experience with a few folks you enjoy.
- Stock your car or bag with a few smart, portable snacks and a water bottle or two. Just in case. You’ll feed your future self a few nutrient-packed and trusted things, while you indulge in a few seasonal delights. Having a few choices makes for a better chance of balance, nutrition-wise. Plus, a blood-sugar crash can make for a few unnecessary purchases (been there, done that).
Rather than being it all…
Have you traditionally been the “point person” for a holiday? Or, the hostess? Who can you loop in, in the group of loved ones, to lend more help? How about a co-host? Collaboration can be fun, though it may come with a bit of release of control… and pressure… and responsibility. #justsayin.
What’s this time of year all about, again?
Remember what you’re doing all this for… and reassess.
Where can you lower the bar of expectations, take a breath, and have the best winter holiday season ever? The one that is best for you, your body, your mental and emotional frame of mind, and the ones you hold most dear.
Heightened stress and more frequent or intense menopause symptoms aren’t going to help you spread any kind of good cheer this year. Make a plan for less stress with an informed approach, a few boundaries, and a smart intention for fun and enjoyment for all, including yourself.
We'd love to hear what this brings up for you, as well as the brilliant ideas and strategies you and your loved ones will enjoy in the coming weeks. Consider joining and sharing with all of us in the Gennev community forums.