Say goodbye to mood swings, restless nights, and the holiday weight struggles. Dr. Bitner and Dr. Egan are back with good news and practical advice to help you stay steady and enjoy the festivities. In our latest Let’s Chat: Holiday Resilience, the team will provide holiday health tips on everything from managing hot flashes to navigating the tempting holiday treats.
Self-Care Practices Are Hard To Maintain Over The Holidays
We get it. Prioritizing self-care can be difficult, especially during the holiday season. With end-of-year work projects, holiday parties, less sleep, and higher-than-normal expectations of ourselves, it often feels like the season is specifically designed for us to fail.
Before you blame yourself, there is a biological explanation for why treats such as sugar or alcohol are so tempting. Think of the brain as divided into two centers. The front part of our brain controls critical thinking, empathy, and logic. The back part of our brain contains the body’s pleasure center, which runs on dopamine. When we experience a craving, the pleasure center senses an inhibitory signal to the logical side of our brain. It encourages us to seek a quick hit of pleasure (i.e., scrolling through Instagram, eating a cookie, or drinking a glass of wine). While this provides momentary contentment, it is not sustainable in the long term, leading to future cravings. Plus, if you are experiencing hormone fluctuations and estrogen shifts, these cravings can send the body into a cycle of poor sleep, hot flashes, insulin resistance, and weight gain. Luckily, there are many steps you can take to regain control of your cravings and holiday narrative.
Dr. Bitner’s Takeaway Tips
- Prioritize sleep. Without seven hours of sleep, your ability to function and your moods worsen. Good sleep is the best gift you can give yourself!
- Save alcohol for special occasions; don’t use it for sleep. Alcohol worsens sleep quality and can make hot flashes and moods worse! Alcohol contains sugar, which spikes our blood sugar and then crashes it during the night, leading to poor sleep. Choose a cup of tea instead.
- Adopt a stress management practice to be ready when you could lose it. Learn to recognize the rising frustration and take a time out, or do your boxed breathing to stay true to yourself and keep your cool. Practicing gratitude has a fantastic melt-away effect on stress.
- Before bed, make sure you stretch and take a moment to reflect on what was good about the day. Gratitude helps calm the mind and set you up for good sleep.
- Set an intention for the season and individual events. On January 1st, how do you want to feel? How do you want your holiday season to be remembered? What holiday details are okay to let go of? For example: “I want joy” or “I want good intentions.” You will be surprised that visualization before an event will help line up things to happen how you hope.
Dr. Egan’s Takeaway Tips
- Fill up on raw veggies. Remember, it is not just the total volume of sugar consumed but also the order in which you consume food and drinks with sugar. If you fill on high-fiber veggies, you will absorb less sugar from your dessert. Bring that veggie tray!
- Don’t skip an early meal to “save on calories” before a party. If you come to a party starving, you will be more likely to over-consume both in volume and types of foods.
- Try a low-calorie protein shake 1-2 hours before your event to help support your hunger and cravings at a party.
- Don’t be too strict! Telling your brain you aren’t allowed to have any desserts typically backfires. We all have those 1-2 holiday desserts, dishes, or sweets that we love and mean something to us. Pick out your 2-4 treats for the season and truly enjoy and embrace them. Be strict with foods with less meaning, i.e., the stale left-over donuts in the office kitchen. If you do pick a treat, REALLY enjoy it!
- Practice Mindful Eating. Allow yourself time to eat your treat without distractions, TV, or conversation. Sit quietly and embrace your holiday treat.
Q: Is the best way to make an appointment to call the office? The website says the perimenopause program is not available.
A: At true., we want to provide our patients a healthcare experience different from traditional medicine, focused on prevention and customized care solutions. We occasionally limit membership openings so that we do not overbook provider schedules. Our Basic Program is currently on a waitlist, and I encourage you to join if you are interested. We actively work through the list and open new Basic spots weekly. Our Complete Program has immediate openings and includes appointments for perimenopause/menopause consultations and care plans. We also offer resources that you can review in the meantime, including:
- Symptom Circle + Resource Pages
- Menopause Transition Scale
- SEEDS® eBook
- Dr. Bitner’s book, I Want To Age Like That
Unwrap the Gift of Health & Wellness
Tis the season to be jolly, not frazzled! Be intentional about your goals and intentions to unwrap the gift of health and wellness this season. You CAN maintain resilience and joy! If you want additional support or want to explore health goals for 2024, contact our team today.
Happy Holidays from all of us at true. Women’s Health!