THE HOLIDAY FANTASY
In the movies, Christmas on a farm is picturesque and peaceful, with a miracle or two thrown in for good measure.
My childhood Christmases in rural Minnesota were anything but peaceful.
Every year we rushed around in the cold and snow, trying to make it to school, church, community and family obligations on time, gifts and food dish in tow.
My parents were stressed and tired and constantly yelling at the kids and each other.
The kids were stressed and tired and cold.
So, so cold.
I was confused as to why we couldn’t stop–simply stop–doing all of these things that clearly weren’t making any of us happy.
When I suggested this to my parents, though, they were aghast.
These were holiday OBLIGATIONS.
They were non-negotiable.
We were all miserable.
When I became an adult with a family of my own, I scaled back on the holiday obligations and created boundaries both for my sake and for my children.
We spent less time rushing to and fro and more time enjoying the holidays together as a family, making gingerbread houses, baking cookies, playing music on the piano and harp and yes, celebrating with family and friends, but planning get togethers so the kids would be rested and spend limited time traveling.
HOLIDAY STRESS IS NO GIFT
The holiday season can be a joyful and festive time, but it can also bring a lot of stress and anxiety for many people.
If you are in perimenopause, the transition period before menopause, you may be more prone to experience stress and anxiety during the holidays due to the hormonal changes and physical symptoms that affect your mood and well-being.
Perimenopause is the time when your ovaries produce less estrogen, a key female hormone, and your menstrual cycles become irregular and unpredictable.
You may also experience various physical and emotional changes, such as
- hot flashes,
- night sweats,
- weight gain,
- sleep disturbances,
- vaginal dryness,
- hair loss, and
- changes in sexual function.
These changes can affect your self-image, confidence, and relationships, and make you feel
- depressed, or
Moreover, the holiday season can add more pressure and expectations, such as planning, shopping, cooking, hosting, traveling, and socializing, which can overwhelm you and trigger or worsen your stress and anxiety.
Therefore, it is important to manage your stress and anxiety during the holidays, and enjoy this special time of the year.
COPING WITH STRESS AND ANXIETY
Here are some tips on how to cope with stress and anxiety during the holidays:
Acknowledge your feelings.
It is normal and valid to feel stressed, anxious, sad, or lonely during the holidays, especially if you are going through perimenopause.
Don’t suppress or ignore your emotions, but accept them and express them in healthy ways, such as talking to someone you trust, writing in a journal, or seeking professional help if needed.
Take care of yourself.
Perimenopause can impact your physical and mental health, so it is essential to prioritize your self-care during the holidays.
Make sure you get enough rest, eat a balanced diet, drink plenty of water, and avoid alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.
Engage in regular physical activity, which can boost your mood, energy, and overall health.
Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or massage, to calm your mind and body.
Set realistic expectations.
The holidays can be stressful if you try to do everything perfectly, or if you compare yourself to others or to your past.
Instead, be realistic and flexible about what you can and cannot do, and focus on what matters most to you.
For example, you can simplify your plans, delegate tasks, or ask for help.
You can also create new traditions that suit your current situation and preferences, such as celebrating online, exchanging gifts, or volunteering.
Seek social support.
The holidays can be a lonely time for some people, especially if you are isolated, divorced, or bereaved.
The holidays can also be an overwhelming time, especially if you have to deal with family conflicts, pressures, or obligations.
In either case, it is important to seek social support from your family, friends, or support groups, and share your feelings and experiences with them.
You can also set boundaries and limit your exposure to negative or toxic people, and spend more time with positive and supportive people.
Have fun and enjoy.
The holidays are meant to be a time of joy and celebration, so don’t forget to have fun and enjoy yourself.
Do things that make you happy, such as listening to music, watching a movie, reading a book, or playing a game.
Be grateful for what you have, and appreciate the small things that bring you pleasure.
Be kind to yourself, and treat yourself to something special, even if that’s something as simple as spending the day relaxing on your own.
However you choose to celebrate or commemorate the holiday season (or not), make it free of guilt or expectations.
Each day is a gift all its own.
Cindy Moy Carr is the founder and CEO of Vorsdatter Limited which created mySysters, the first app for women in perimenopause. Cindy is an attorney, journalist and author, including the ABA’s Guide to Healthcare Law.
The information and other content provided in this blog, website or in any linked materials are not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.