Finding Christmas joy during menopause
Along with the comfort in the warm glow of Christmas lights and the joy of taking days off of work, there can be an equal, and sometimes greater, amount of stress during the holiday season. Let’s face it: Christmas has its challenges at even the best of times – from the list of gifts that need to be wrapped to the cooking and hosting to the wide range of emotions surrounding family and celebration.
Now, try adding menopause on top of it all. Menopause can affect your day-to-day life with symptoms such as hot flushes, trouble sleeping, vaginal dryness, and shifts in mood that can rock the firmest of foundations.
With all of this in mind, it makes sense that menopause can impact the way you approach, and make it through, the holidays. Menopause is a significant life change. It is natural to feel its effects. You may experience increased anxiety and even depression. You may feel less motivated or excited. Meal prep, travelling, and seeing family may feel more intimidating than you may like.
But the story doesn’t end there. Yes, you may face some new challenges this year, but there is also joy and comfort to find in this season – and much of it can start from within.
As you explore potential ways to ease the weight on your shoulders, stay patient with yourself. Support yourself when you feel overwhelmed. Even when you don’t feel it, remember that you are capable and worthy.
Though it may be cold and dark outside, and the coming days may bring feelings of being overwhelmed, there will also be moments of joy and comfort. These moments are important and real, too. Take advantage of them!
Keep an eye out for joy when it enters your life – even if it is just for a few minutes. Finding gratitude in these moments can give you strength.
Maybe the snow is particularly sparkly on the sidewalk outside or your socks are extra cosy. Perhaps you recall a happy memory of a holiday in the past. Maybe your bite of dinner tastes really, really good. Search for these moments and savour them. They will not be able to erase the frustration of menopause, but they can offer relief if even for a brief, but powerful moment.
Menopause will not last forever. It is difficult and disorienting, but keeping perspective may just help you weather the challenges.
Take on what you can
You may feel as though you have less energy or motivation to prepare for the holidays this year – and that’s okay! As you explore ideas intended to bring you support, consider the ways in which you can lean on those around you.
Change up the cooking
You might find yourself in the role of host or the one in charge of the Christmas dinner. You may find that menopause has impacted your ability to tackle this responsibility – even if it hasn’t been too much of a burden in the past. You have quite a bit on your plate already as you navigate menopause. This year, consider what you can do to ease the load.
In an effort to share meal preparation, ask other guests contribute. Divvying up the to-do list can be a great help – even if it is just a dish or two. Additionally, take advantage of prepackaged food to ease the burden of making something from scratch. It’s okay to take a simpler route.
Not only can this help lighten your load, but it can diversify the table! Learn how others may approach the same dishes and celebrate their own take on it while appreciating your ability to ask for their help. When you sit down together, feel the joy of sharing the responsibility.
Accept what fits you
If there’s anything you can walk away with today, it should be the truth that there is no “right way” to do things. You may feel shame if you choose the “easy way.” When it comes to holidays such as Christmas, it’s easy to feel the pressure of keeping up traditions or executing things perfectly. But there is no such thing as perfect!
Give yourself grace in taking the path of least resistance – whatever it may look like for you. Don’t burden yourself with expectations. Learn what suits you best, and adapt it into your plan moving forward.
Ease your stress
It’s true that Christmas time isn’t always jolly and bright. The weather outside can indeed be frightful. Family dynamics may bring stress and old scars to the surface. Additionally, you may be feeling the pain of the absence of a family member who will not be with you this year.
Wherever anxiety is coming from, it’s important to do your best to intentionally relieve stress wherever and whenever you can. Not only is this better for you in the long run, but easing stress can help you enjoy Christmas more, bringing joy and comfort with you as you head into the coming months.
Care for yourself
In a season dedicated to showing appreciation for others, it can be easy to forget yourself. However, self care is one of the most effective and kindest ways through which you can ease your stress and boost the health of your body and mind.
Set some time aside to engage in an activity that you love. (Bonus points if involves some type of exercise!) Go on a walk in your neighborhood before the sun sets. Relax and strengthen your body by watching a free yoga tutorial online. Meet up with a friend who is good at making you laugh. Watch a favorite movie with a cup of hot chocolate. Show yourself some love!
Make a plan
The swirl of things in your head that you need to accomplish may be intimidating. This is okay. Try making a to-do list, and designating certain tasks for each day. You don’t need to finish everything all at one time – take it moment by moment.
If symptoms of menopause are driving you crazy, try checking out the Olivia app and reading more about how you can navigate what you’re experiencing. By tracking your symptoms in the app, you can externalise and visualise some of your thoughts, thus quieting the noise in your head.
In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, your schedule can be highly variable. With travelling, visiting family, preparing for, celebrating, and cleaning up after festivities, change is an ever-present companion – representing excitement as well as anxiety.
That being said, you can help yourself stay grounded during this time by trying to make a plan for each day. By eating, sleeping, and engaging in movement around consistent times each day, you can maintain some control. Even when things feel chaotic, you can build support for yourself by maintaining some structure.
Though alcohol may seem like a great way to be festive, menopause and alcohol have a rocky relationship. Alcohol can exacerbate symptoms of menopause such as insomnia, hot flushes, anxiety, depression, and brain fog. Alcohol can also mess with your gut health, leading to discomfort.
As you enter Christmas, try to drink moderately. Have a glass of wine with friends, but refrain from drinking excessively to ensure that you take care of your body and your stress levels. Everyone has a different relationship with alcohol. This holiday season, find balance in the way that is best for your uniquely capable body.
The gift of honesty
Though it may feel intimidating, it’s okay to ask for help. In fact, you should feel encouraged to ask for what you need. Perhaps you would benefit from an afternoon to yourself? Or maybe you would rather not be alone. You might ask for help in buying and wrapping gifts or for assistance in vacuuming the kitchen.
Be honest with yourself and with others. It will ultimately be better for you and those around you if you are truthful about what you are able to handle during this holiday season. It’s not all up to you. You are worthy of feeling supported.
Though you may not always feel strong, you are navigating life during menopause, and that is something to be deeply proud of. You are making it through and you are doing it in your own way.
During this time leading up to Christmas, you should truly celebrate. You deserve to appreciate yourself for every part of who you are, menopause and all. Gift yourself an evening with friends. Buy that item in the store you’ve been eyeing. Find joy in your ability to care for yourself. It will not only increase your ability to find the beauty around you, but it will also help you find beauty within yourself.
Though Christmas brings its own challenges, you are equipped to face them – even if it can be hard to recognise this ability. Take time for yourself, ask for what you need from those around you, and find gratitude for the moments of joy and comfort that bring you warmth and peace.