Chances are your stress hormones are not singing “Jingle Bell Rock” this time of year.
Make no mistake about it, holidays are stressful. Just ask your stress hormones. Yeah, I know, they’re supposed to be all about thankfulness, peace on earth, and goodwill toward men. But, you’ve clearly never been to my house during the holidays.
In fact, outside of family vacations, I can’t think of a more stressful time. The strain on the household budget; long lines in the stores; searching for the “perfect gift” for that “not-so-perfect” in law; eating too much; drinking too much, and never getting enough sleep.
Throw in a little perimenopause hormone imbalance, and before you know it, you have hot flashes burning bright enough to light the Yuletide log, mood swings so explosive your cup of holiday cheer is more like a Molotov cocktail; and instead of a white Christmas, you’re dreaming that Rudolph didn’t make it through hunting season this year, and Santa has to call the whole thing off.
But, that’s not how the story goes, and Rudolph, with his little nose so bright, is still going to pull that darn sleigh right up to your house. So this holiday season, here’s my gift to you: 12 stress busting tips to help you survive the holiday season. I can’t promise they will make the 12 days of Christmas go by any faster. But, they might keep you from shooting the partridge out of your neighbor’s pear tree!
12 Ways to Beat the Holiday Stress
- Shop Online – Remember the days of letting your fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages? It’s still a great idea. Except now you can use your fingers to shop online and avoid those long holiday lines. Seriously, ladies, it’s worth every penny you pay in shipping!
- Avoid Binging on Sweet Treats – When I’m stressed (like during the holidays) I tend to binge eat, and it’s always sugar I reach for. I won’t be a Grinch and suggest you shouldn’t indulge at all, but just remember: blood sugar spikes and crashes will leave you feeling fatigued and exhausted.
- Don’t Spike the Eggnog – It’s a fact; alcohol has been shown to increase hot flashes in some women, especially red wine . Alcohol also interferes with your blood sugar, which will also interfere with your sleep. This and the added calories will only make you look like Mrs. Santa. So unless you’re really good at keeping New Year’s resolutions, avoid alcohol completely. Otherwise, moderate.
- Delegate – Okay, I confess. I’m a control freak who suffers from CDO, (it’s like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order – like they’re supposed to be) and I won’t let others help me. If you too are a control freak, or suffer with CDO, do yourself a favor and enlist the help of your elves. It won’t be perfect, but at least you’ll have one less jingle bell to answer.
- The Gift of Eating Out – I love to cook. Well, actually, I love to eat. But, during the rush of the holiday season, it’s hard to cook every day. So why not let someone else roast the chestnuts on their open fire, and eat out more? Yes, it costs more money, but see the next tip.
- Regift – Think of regifting as paying it forward. Really, what’s the harm? Is there a shirt hanging in your closet with the tags still on it? Or yet another spatula your passive-aggressive mother-in-law gave you again last year? Regift it, and use the money you save to eat out!
- Sleep In – Nothing tarnishes my tinsel (and my hormones) more than sleep deprivation. Sleeping more during the holiday season sounds like an oxymoron, I know. But, try. You’ll be less edgy, have more stamina, and if you avoid the alcohol and binging on sweet treats, you’ll sleep better too!
- Eat More Turkey – Speaking of sleep, eat more turkey. The protein will help raise serotonin levels in your brain. Higher serotonin levels will help stabilize your moods, and the tryptophan in the turkey will also help you sleep. Good moods, more sleep, what’s not to love?
- Christmas Aromatherapy – When I’m stressed, the smell of apple cinnamon is like a tonic to my soul. As to whether there is any actual science behind it is not clear. But, it does make me happy, and when I’m happy, I’m less stressed. Do you have a favorite Christmas scent? Light it up!
- Feng Shui with Christmas Music – If Christmas candles don’t do it for you, then try some of your favorite Christmas music. I love the standards playing quietly in the background. But if you prefer a modern touch, here’s a soulful version of “What Child is This” by Mary J. Blige and Andrea Bochelli. It’s amazing!
- Help a Friend in Need – All jokes aside, Christmas can be a very lonely and sad time for a lot of people. If they’ve lost someone they love this year (as I have) the first holidays without them can be difficult. Reach out to someone who doesn’t have family, invite them over for dinner, or go spend some time with them. Not only will it take your mind off the stress in your own life, but you’ll help someone else feel less alone during the holiday season, and that ladies, is really what it’s all about!
- Find Balance. It can start with a yoga class and take baby steps to find out your body’s anlaytics. Information is power. Know your cortisol levels today so you can benchmark your hormones for healthy aging tomorrow.
Ready to give your hormones the gift of balance and optimization? Get started with an Ageology physician today.
Contributing writer: Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women’s health and a women’s freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.