Make your life easier during the Holidays! Keeping your life under control while experiencing poor sleep, memory problems, hot flashes, fatigue, mood swings, and other unpleasant menopause challenges is hard enough. Add to that the stress and “must dos” of the Holiday season and you may want to get under the bed and resurface on December 26th, or go on a vacation by yourself.
I’ve been there! But I’ve learned some useful strategies not only to survive but also to thrive and enjoy the holidays that I want to share with you:
#1 MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER DURING THE HOLIDAYS (and afterwards)
I can hear you: “easy for you to say, you have no idea what I have to do!”
Do you really have to do all of it? Can’t you simplify the holidays? When you feel different (like going through menopause), things should be different.
The pressures of the holiday season are real but don’t put unnecessary, unhealthy pressure on yourself. Don’t expect to be perfect, to have the perfect house, the perfect meal… Perfection is impossible to achieve and shouldn’t be the goal. The holidays should be about religion, family, and friends. Make your life easier during the Holidays!
High levels of stress increase cortisol which in turn messes up your hormones, disrupts sleep, causes hot flashes, causes food cravings, increases weight and fat around the belly, and none of this is healthy or desirable.
Keep your expectations realistic.
If you need to lower your standard (your personal standard is higher than anyone else’s standard for you) and do much less than usual, that’s OK. It is common to feel fatigued and overwhelmed in menopause. If you think you’ll go crazy if you have to do or think about one more thing, don’t.
Make it easier on yourself.
Let others know that this year the holiday tradition is going to be slightly adjusted. Just because it’s been done the same way for many years doesn’t mean it must continue to be so.
You (and your body) have changed, and holiday traditions can change too. Just remember to let your family know about your thoughts and plans – communication is key for household peace. They should know that you feel tired and not up to so much fussiness as in the past.
And, it is OK—and even recommended—that you let your family members and friends know how your hormones are making you feel and why. Yes, you should talk about menopause! Your partner will be relieved to know it’s not (all) his fault, it’s your hormones! And you will get brownie points – it’s not your fault, you’re not mad, it’s your hormones.
If you have daughters they will appreciate (in the future, when they experience their own menopause) your sharing. And if you have sons they will benefit too, because they live, interact, and work with women and should be educated about menopause. If your mother or mother-in-law is around you could discover what their menopause was like.
Family bonding time! By bringing up the subject with family and friends you also help other women going through menopause, who may not know why they’re feeling the way they do, who think they are the only ones and are suffering alone. Telling your loved ones what you’re going through and how you feel may not be 100% clear to them but should elicit some understanding, support, and compassion (and hopefully some help with the holidays too!)
Do what you can and don’t feel guilty.
Make your life easier during the Holidays!
I believe in celebrating fuss-free, love-centred (not gift-centred), relaxed and enjoyable (not stressful) holidays. Through the years I’ve learned a few things that helped with my holiday preparation:
I have no problem giving or receiving a re-gift. A gift I have no use for (I’m a practical person living in a small space with very limited storage room) is someone else’s treasure. If you must buy gifts make a gift list and a BUDGET and stick to it. To save time and money, make an appointment on your calendar for shopping, and try to do it all in one trip. Shop wisely and be an environmentally-conscious shopper. Know the impact of what you’re buying – where it’s made, what it’s made of, who made it, how the workers who made it were treated, and what resources went into making it. Also think about the impact buying online has on the environment. If you drive to the mall and do your shopping in one trip (even better is to walk to shop in your neighbourhood or take transit), it has a smaller carbon footprint than buying something online. Because every time you order online there’s a truck on the road making a special trip to your door. Add up all your yearly online shopping and your carbon footprint may be very heavy even though you never left your house! Have you thought about it? Most people haven’t. We are making the environment pay the price for our convenience. It’s time to change that.
I’m no wine expert; my grandfather was but unfortunately his ability wasn’t passed down to me. I know if I like a wine or not but I can’t judge its quality. When I shop for wines I use the labels at LCBO to guide my purchase. I look for special tags on the shelves that show reviews from sommeliers (disclaimer: not all sommeliers are created equal) and I buy those with a score of 90 or above and stick to my budget $25/bottle or less. I have liked the majority of wines I’ve bought using this system. It works for wine I give to people and serve to my guests. If you would like more expert advice, ask the staff at LCBO and read this wine blog by my friend Shari Mogk-Edwards.
I’m a cook not a cleaner. I don’t like cleaning—I think it is the biggest waste of my time—but I can’t justify a cleaning lady because I live in a small apartment, so I just do it, very grudgingly. The best tip I learned about cleaning washrooms was from my aunt Mariana, “just make sure the faucets are shining and the mirror is clean and everything else looks clean too”.
Hide the clutter you usually have on the floor, counters, chairs, and sofa, in the closets none of your guests will be opening when they come over. Delegate the job of vacuuming and dusting to someone else in the house, if you can (I wish I could). Make your life easier during the Holidays!
If you like to cook and bake like I do, cook as much as you can ahead of time. Bake things that freeze well months ahead of the holiday rush. I make apple pies from scratch, heck! I even pick the apples, and I bake the pies in October and freeze some for Christmas.
Some appetizers can be made and frozen ahead of time as well. No time? Buy frozen items and re-heat them.
Clean your fridge now (after you read this). Make room for the big bird, salads, and whatever else you’ll have to refrigerate the week of the holidays. If you have a garage that’s cold but doesn’t freeze think of it as an extra storage room for drinks, fruit, and root vegetables.
I used to store the seasoned, ready-to-go-in-the-oven turkey in my garage overnight and stick it in the oven Christmas morning to cook while we opened the presents. Make your life easier during the Holidays!
A lot of shopping—like flour, sugar, frozen items, gifts, drinks (some beer needs to be refrigerated all the time), nuts, napkins, aluminum pans (minimize your garbage output!), and decorations—can be done weeks ahead of time.
If you need help finding a personalized path to hormone happiness, I can help you!
Teresa Isabel Dias is a pharmacist and a menopause practitioner (NCMP) certified by the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), she lives in Toronto but all her services are available online – one-on-one consultations, live workshops, and webinars. Sign up for her free biweekly MenopausED Newsletter www.menopaused.org to learn more about menopause and women’s health.