‘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 to 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
Need some extra support, tips, or a good laugh? Join our Menopause Community!
Sometimes the menopause can simply be too much - especially at this time of the year. Chatting to women who understand what you're going through, however, might help! Come and say hi on our safe and super-friendly forum, filled with thousands of menopausal ladies. It's super easy to use, takes less than a minute to sign up...and is totally free. Join here.
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 . . .
Christmas and New Year spa days and spa breaks around the country