Christmas is often overwhelming, throw in to the mix an array of menopause symptoms and it understandably becomes too much. Here are a few ideas to help you keep your cool this Christmas, I hope they help.
Write lists - I use the notes app on my phone to make lists for shopping I need, gifts I need to buy and to track my spending. This is really helpful when brain fog and overwhelm kick in! Often you can write a list with tick boxes - so you can tick of completed tasks and see what is left to do.
Ask for help - I am terrible at wrapping presents, which always makes me feel bad and I get agitated as my mum used to wrap beautifully! So I have been asking for help on this one for years - even before the peri-menopause showed up. My husband helps these days but in the past my friend used to help me. To be honest, watching me wrap presents is often painful for the onlooker - so they quickly offer to help/tell me to put the scissors and tape down. Joking aside, whatever the task, don't be afraid to ask for help - it is not your sole responsibility to ensure Christmas is perfect! If you have guests ask them to bring something and let them help when they offer, most people love to help.
Keep cool - I personally don't suffer with hot flushes, but I do often wake up feeling very hot, so in the morning I find a nice way to feel refreshed is to run my hands under cold water before I put my face cream on - feels amazing - try it! Around 80% of us will experience hot flushes. Avoid hot and scratchy Christmas jumpers! Whilst the exact cause of hot flushes is unknown, it is thought the dropping levels of oestrogen affect the parts of the brain that regulate body temperature. Alcohol, spicy food and caffeine can all worsen hot flushes and night sweats. So even though its a time to be merry and treat yourself, bear these triggers in mind.
Tell friends and family how it is - Not just at Christmas, but very often actually, I have to say to my husband and children I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. I don't always find this easy. In the beginning it felt like I was attention seeking and the thief of all our family joy, because I can't control my mood and emotions. But hormones don't know it's Christmas! If you wake up on Christmas day (or any day in fact) feeling anxious, agitated, emotional (insert an array of relevant overwhelming emotions here) then just be honest and say so. Better that than to say nothing and leave your loved ones wondering what's up.
Social anxiety - The decreasing hormone levels we experience during the menopause journey can affect the brain in such a way that you begin to suffer with anxiety, or if you were already living with anxiety prior to the menopause, sadly the anxiety can worsen. There is nothing worse than having to put on a smile for Christmas party after Christmas party if you are struggling. Don't feel you have to say yes to every single invite, or if you really feel you have to go, don't feel you have to stay for hours. It's a tough one, as I hate to appear rude, but also, it's your Christmas too - of course we are considerate of others, but spend it how makes you happy as much as you can.
Make time to be mindful - Now, I know you have a million things to do, but just five minutes can make a difference. A quiet moment away from everyone to allow yourself time for a few cooling, deep breaths. Ten minutes reading a favourite novel before you go to sleep, rather than scrolling through Instagram looking at everyone else's seemingly perfect Christmas. A walk with the dog - a walk even if you haven't got a dog - nothing beats fresh air. Quarter of an hour of very simple yoga. Anything that helps you to feel less overwhelmed.
It's just a day - Not everyone likes Christmas, for some its sad, for some its overwhelming, for some it's lonely, for some it means not much because they have to work. Whatever you feel about Christmas, remind yourself, it is just a day and normality and routine will soon return.
I hope some of this helps. Thanks so much to those of you who have joined me this year on the Menopause Yoga classes I taught, they were a real highlight of my year and classes will be back next year.
Merry Christmas, breathe deep, you've got this..
With Love, Steph xx