Are you grateful or grumpy? Cheerful or crabby? Just trying to figure out your holiday survival approach? If you’re feeling more like the Grinch than Santa Claus this year, this blog may be just what you need to get through the holidays. I’m excited to share my best tips for surviving the holidays and avoiding the dreaded weight gain, keeping your stress under control, and maintaining gratitude for the positive things in your life.
It’s no secret that the holidays can wreak havoc for women in general, but it’s especially true for those experiencing hormonal shifts during perimenopause or menopause. I’m here to tell you that it IS possible to stay calm, joyful, and healthy, even with the added holiday stressors. In fact, you can not only survive the holidays, but you can also thrive, so let’s learn how to be happy and relaxed during the holiday season!
The first tip I have for you is to be intentional in what you want this holiday season. How do you picture yourself at a particular time (possibly on Christmas day) during the holidays? Ask yourself the following questions to determine how you want to be at that time:
- How will I look?
- What will my response be if there is a disagreement?
- How will I deal with the sadness of family not being all together?
- How will I feel after the meal—uncomfortably stuffed or pleased that I enjoyed the meal without overdoing it?
- Do I have hot flashes while cooking in the kitchen?
- Do I freak out when someone spills red wine, or do I get a rag and club soda and clean it up without stressing about it?
I call this your Picture of Self (POS), and you can think of it as your goal. Really think about your POS and what you want your answers to be to all of the questions. If we don’t constantly intend to be true to our values and goals, it can become too easy just to give up and fall back into old habits, especially when we think about holiday survival. Every event provides choices, and if we don’t make the right choices for our health most days, then we are missing an opportunity to reach our goals.
You should also be intentional about your sexual health during this busy time of the year. It’s important to have an intention to stay close to your partner, even during stressful times. Being intimate might even eliminate some of that stress and give you more energy! It doesn’t have to be an all-day love affair—sometimes, a “quickie” is all you need to reconnect. If scheduling a “sex date” is what it takes, that’s okay! Do what works for you and your partner—no one is judging you.
Get back to the basics
Another crucial tip I want to share to help you survive the holidays is to go back to the basics. When I talk about the basics, I refer to the Seven Essential Elements of Daily Success (SEEDS®). I talk about the SEEDS® in many of my blogs, and that’s because they are vital to helping us get through so much in life, especially during stressful times. These basic habits are a choice we make and truly impact how we live our lives. Here’s a quick summary of the SEEDS® to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. For a more detailed version, you can download the free e-book version on our website. I suggest printing a copy and putting it on your refrigerator or bedside table as a daily reminder.
Seven Essential Elements of Daily Success (SEEDS®):
- Water—Eight 10 oz. glasses every day.
- Sleep—50 hours every week.
- Vitamins—Multivitamin, Vitamin D, Calcium.
- Fiber—35 grams per day.
- Healthy Carbohydrates—Approximately 5 servings every day.
- Healthy Proteins—Approximately 5 servings every day.
- Smart Fats—Approximately 3 servings every day.
- One Treat
- Activity—5,000 steps for weight maintenance, 10,000 steps for weight loss.
- Strength Training
- Mind-Body Connection—One 5 minute instance each day of metered breathing and gratitude.
- Close mouth
- Open eyes
- Focus vision on a single spot
- Breathe normally through the nose
I also want you to think about how well you cope during stressful times. Holiday survival can be a chance to engage your coping mechanisms. Everyone has challenges, but not everyone copes in the same way. In my book, “I Want to Age Like That,” I talk quite a bit about coping because it’s so important! Women who cope well do three things consistently:
- Believe they deserve to be happy.
- Have a support network.
- Ask for help when they need it.
If you feel like you have some challenges with coping, we can help. Ashley Wildman, Ph.D., Licensed Professional Counselor, has recently joined the true. Women’s Health team. We are so excited to have Ashley in our office, and she is here to help if you need it.
Five tips for holiday survival
- Start each day with a glass of water and five minutes of sitting in a quiet place, thinking about what makes you feel deep gratitude. I also let a word or theme come to me to set the tone for the day. If you also practice prayer, add a moment of gratitude to celebrate being in the temple of your body.
- Be intentional about what you plan to eat in a day. Choose a treat and limit yourself to just one. You can get the rest of your carbs from healthy sources such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice, or whole wheat tortillas. Make sure to include plenty of leafy greens and bright vegetables in your diet.
- You don’t have to do all of the recommended exercises every day, but do something every day. Make a schedule you know you can commit to for the week and make following the schedule a priority.
- Set an alarm to go to bed—just as you would set an alarm to wake up. It serves as a reminder for you to get started on your bedtime routine.
- If you wake up in the night, say to yourself, “I got this.” If you don’t fall back to sleep immediately, get out of bed, go to the bathroom, drink some water, and then sit in a quiet place for five minutes of gratitude and metered breathing.
Happy Holidays from all of us at true. Women’s Health!