Menopause Mondays: Anxiety, Stress, Migraines – A Holiday Love Letter to My Sisters

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Hi sisters in perimenopause and menopause,

It’s the season of giving—and boy, are you good at giving! But I’m afraid that all of the work and worry over everyone else’s wish lists may leave you energy-drained and your tank on empty. You deserve so much more out of your holidays!

That’s why when it comes to the holidays, self-care is the most important thing you can give. After all, you can’t take care of anyone else until you first take care of YOU. It’s like airplane emergency procedures explain: Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. Everyone’s safety depends on it. So put happiness at the top of your own wish list, and start planning how you’re going to deliver. In the end, you’re the only person out there who can give you the health and happiness you deserve.

My suggestion? First, stop being your own biggest critic. While easier said than done, you need to realize that during perimenopause and menopause, you might not have the energy you had in the past. That’s okay, and you don’t need to have as much energy as your grandchildren. Scale back on your stressors: Make your holiday dinner a potluck; use gift sacks, not wrapping paper; and dial back on the décor. I also suggest shopping online. On the web, you get to escape the crowded malls and heavy shopping bags, and you can hit every store on your schedule from the comfort of your couch. If a gift for YOU sneaks its way into your online cart, so be it!

While we’re on the subject of expectations, we need to set another thing straight: The holiday pictures you see on Pinterest, HGTV, and in Good Housekeeping just aren’t realistic. Honestly, who has time for this stuff? Problem is, most women think they should: One recent TODAY survey found that 42 percent of moms suffer from Pinterest stress, thinking they aren’t crafty enough. The antidote?, a website that chronicles Pinterest projects gone incredibly, hilariously wrong. Check it out and I promise you will feel better. You’ll also have a pretty big laugh.

Your holidays don’t have to be picture-perfect for them to be great. In all honesty, they probably shouldn’t. In my opinion, no-frills holidays are some of the best ones, while the ones displayed in the Andy Warhol-esque pictures people post to Facebook are really some of the most stressful and least fun ones around.

If, this season, you let go of the all of the pressure, you’ll be free to be the warm, wonderful woman you truly are. Only then can you truly enjoy the holidays. Meanwhile, your family won’t feel like they are walking on eggshells (or should that be glass tree ornaments?).

Still, no matter how much you trim the fat off of your holiday stressors, know that some will pop up here and there. After all, perimenopause and menopause are stressful all on their own—even without extra holiday to-dos and expectations. So find a way to unwind: Book a massage, take a bubble bath, and stop making excuses not to exercise (it’s one of the healthiest and most effective ways to reduce stress). After all, stress can trigger hot flashes, impede sleep, spur menopausal migraines, and most certainly wreck your holidays. Check out more tips for fighting menopausal stress!

Also—and I know this is a hard when sugar cookies, mashed potatoes, and holiday parties abound—stop the stress eating! While a little nibble here and there is certainly okay (super-strict diets are stressful, and we don’t like that!), fatty foods can wreck both your mind and body. According to a 2012 study in the International Journal of Obesity, trans and saturated fats can spur mood changes and depression. Meanwhile, they cause us to pack on the pounds, and I don’t have to tell you that when the buttons start popping on last year’s holiday sweaters, your stress meter rises faster than the needle on your scale. More weight and a worse mood? You can do better.

So, my generous sisters, this season, start being generous to YOU! Give YOU the gifts I know you deserve: self-care, respect, and love! Do that and I guarantee you’ll soon celebrate your best holiday ever!

Wishing you the happiest, merriest, and healthiest holiday ever!


P.S. Reaching out is IN!  Suffering in silence is OUT!

After struggling with her own severe menopause symptoms and doing years of research, Ellen resolved to share what she learned from experts and her own trial and error. Her goal was to replace the confusion, embarrassment, and symptoms millions of women go through–before, during, and after menopause–with the medically sound solutions she discovered. Her passion to become a “sister” and confidant to all women fueled Ellen’s first book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. As a result of the overwhelming response from her burgeoning audiences and followers’ requests for empowering information they could trust, Ellen’s weekly blog, Menopause MondaysTM, was born.

  • Right on Ellen. I’m going to skip the stress and make sure to keep the enjoyment levels high.In my opinion, a woman who is doing what it takes to be happy is doing the best for her family and friends any time of the year.

  • This post was SO important for me right now. Your candor while writing makes me feel I’m sitting across from you at lunch! Love love love!!!

  • You’re right–self-care–and setting limits–is the way to get through the holidays without super-stress.

    • You are so right, Carol! Wishing you all the best this holiday has to bring to you and yours!