Being menopausal doesn’t mean that you can’t have a great time. Here’s the Live Better With Guide to surviving the festive period…
‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’. . . or is it? If you’re menopausal, the thought of Christmas – or Hanukkah, Eid, or other major festival or special event – can leave you wondering just how you’re going to cope with it all.
If you are hosting Christmas, the ‘to do’ list might seem overwhelming. Even if you plan to celebrate away from home, there are still plenty of extras to think about, on top of any worries you may have about how you will be feeling and how you are going to manage those menopausal symptoms.
Our Christmas guide is designed to help you enjoy Christmas, not simply struggle through it!
Be menopausal-bold and manage expectations
Christmas comes packed with expectations, our own and other people’s, and it’s natural to feel that you don’t want to let people down or disappoint them. But trying to do everything you’ve always done, when you are not feeling your best, isn’t a good idea.
However you plan to spend Christmas, let those who are celebrating with you know that you may be feeling less than wonderful and that you might need to rest more often, or that your anxiety levels may be higher, for example.
There’s nothing to feel embarrassed about. After all, there are millions of women across the country going through menopause at Christmas too – you are not alone.
It’s fine to say ‘no’ at Christmas
Whether it’s an invitation to yet another party, the possibility of extra guests for Christmas, or simply another glass of something, if it seems like too much, a polite refusal is fine. Even better if you can let people know why; one of the biggest hurdles menopausal women face is trying to be open about what is happening to them. But the more you let people know what you are experiencing and how you are feeling, the better.
When it comes to menopause, there is absolutely nothing to feel ashamed about. The world does not come to an end if you say ‘no’ – your family and friends will still love you! And you’re showing the next generation of women how to handle menopause.
Easing the festive season strain
If you’re a list maker, make sure your list is manageable. Go through it ruthlessly and strike out anything that isn’t absolutely essential and then go through it again to see which tasks you can delegate. Do not try to do everything yourself; rope in family and friends, especially if you are celebrating Christmas together. Ask guests to contribute something to the main meal – a starter dish, a pudding or cake, a cheeseboard and biscuits, a bowl of nuts or a basket of fruit.
Divide up the household tasks too – clearing up after Christmas present-time, setting and clearing the table, washing up (or at least loading the dishwasher!) and whizzing round with the vacuum cleaner.
It is also OK buy ready prepared dishes – it’s not cheating! All the major supermarkets and shops like Cook offer traditional and contemporary festive fare that covers everything from meat, poultry, vegetarian and vegan main courses, to side dishes, from Christmas pudding, cake and mince pies, to buffet dishes and much more. The quality and range available have never been higher; so don’t worry about disappointing people – because you won’t. After all, slaving over a hot oven when you’re coping with hot flushes is no fun.
But if you prefer to cook everything from scratch, prep and freeze or store whatever you can beforehand, have a fan in the kitchen, make sure you keep the kitchen window open, and nip outside every so often to cool down. Or just flap that apron . . .
Another suggestion is to stagger the festive high points; follow the Italian example and have your main meal on Christmas Eve. Leave present- opening until the following day, and opt for lighter, easily prepared meals on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Being sensible about Christmas shopping
Traipsing round city centre shops or retail parks looking for the perfect gifts when you are feeling hot and bothered, tired or irritable – and that’s if you’ve managed to find a parking space – is definitely not recommended. Take a look at what local and independent shops and galleries offer instead: you may be pleasantly surprised. And take advantage of gift vouchers or online shopping too, especially if you are struggling with menopausal exhaustion.
Taking care of yourself at Christmas
- You don’t have to be first up or last to bed, so allow yourself to be waited on. If someone offers to bring you breakfast in bed, say ‘yes’ immediately!
- If you know that there are certain times of the day when tiredness kicks in, allow for that in your planning and take a short rest when you need to.
- Keep a hand-held fan or a facial spritzer within easy reach, to cool you down if you’re feeling hot and bothered. To be honest, all that Christmas excitement tends to make everyone look a little red-faced, so you won’t stand out . . .
- If things get fraught, and they tend to at Christmas, use an aromatherapy diffuser to spread a little calm; essential oils are perfect for helping you to drift off to sleep too.
- Enjoy a glass of fizz or your favourite tipple during the day but don’t overdo it and avoid alcohol in the evening. It’s dehydrating, no friend of your hormones, and can disturb your sleep. Alcohol-free cocktails are a great festive alternative and you can safely drink them at any time.
- Weather permitting, get some fresh air – a 30-minute walk can help to cool, calm and energise you. Connecting with nature, even in midwinter, makes us feel better.
- It’s OK to cry; Christmas is an emotional time for most of us, even more so if you’re menopausal and tears seem to spring up much more easily. The chances are you won’t be the only one to feel tearful at some point, so you’ll be in good company.
- Plan to have a relaxing day off – at home or away – once the festivities are over and ask someone else to pick up the reins for the day, whether it is preparing lunch, looking after children, checking in on parents, or walking the dog. Allow yourself to unwind with something you enjoy: a scented bath (but not too hot), a facial, an aromatherapy massage, watch a favourite film, a good book or listen to soothing music. (And turn off that phone. It’s the law.)
Live Better With Menopause has a great range of gifts and kits to help smooth your path through the festivities, including some fabulous Christmas Bundles. If you have friends who are also going through menopause, you might just have found the perfect present for them.
Our Happy Menopausal Christmas extras . . .
Cook’s time-saving Christmas menu
24 recipes for alcohol-free cocktails
Christmas and New Year spa days and spa breaks around the country