I did not hide the fact that Covid restrictions gifted me the Christmas I was dreaming of in 2020. I was anxious, hormonal and dreading the thought of hosting noisy and ungrateful family once again. There was no way my perimenopausal symptoms were going to allow me to hold my tongue and be the hostess I should be.
Christmas is stressful enough as it is, without the added hell of my symptoms that make me hate most human beings pretty much all of the time. I can’t be doing with the noise, the mess and the pandering to everyone else’s bloody needs and the political minefield of not hurting anyone’s feelings so I don’t ruin their Christmas. What about my fucking Christmas!? All everyone expects from me is give-give-give … work, friends, family and even the bloody dog all expect me to make everything just so for them.
As we approach Christmas, my tearfulness has increased, my ability to sleep has decreased and every bloody chore I need to get done, from wrapping gifts to writing cards seems to be a trigger for another outburst. My anxiety is going through the roof, my fuck-budget is almost spent and I really don’t know if I can face a ‘normal’ Christmas this year.
I want to scale things down. I want a personal lockdown. I want peace, Baileys, Strictly Come Dancing and a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. That won’t happen. But what can I do to get me through the festive season? How do I and those round me have a peri-merry Christmas?
I’ve been told the increased stress can trigger more hot flushes and that I should wear clothes that help me control my body heat. Pah! I’m overweight, and we all know that overweight people love to wear man-made fibres that make us glow and sweat (not). Not much chance of a festive outfit that is made of natural fibres in my size. Looks like layers is my only option. I’ll just have to open a window and tell everyone it’s for ventilation purposes to prevent the spread of any germs.
I’m sorry, but gin is keeping me sane at the moment. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not some gin-soaked harridan, grumbling at everyone as I try not to blow my festive, hormonal fuse. But a little glass of something at the end of a stressful day is powering me through at the moment.
I’m sure many of us should reduce our alcohol intake for health reasons, but that’s difficult enough let alone at Christmas, and that’s without the added stress of perimenopause. Some of us will find the booze triggers our hot flushes or night sweats, so if you fall into that category, then maybe you should be thinking more mocktail than cocktail over the festive season.
Being a woman, I am the Christmas fairy in our house. The husband will try his best, but pretty much all of the chores, planning and preparation will start with me. I needed to apply some self-care strategies and look after myself, otherwise the stress was going to cripple me.
To take the edge off this year, I’ve been making date-critical plans for each week through December. This has kept my to-do list smaller and allowed me to organise the Christmas chores in smaller chunks. It also means that at the end of each weekend, I have a small sense of achievement and hit a smaller glass of gin.
Speaking of calm, I have been hitting the Calm app, too. There are some great bitesize modules on there to grab in moments of need. Perfect for when you need the hug of a little bit of mindfulness.
Share the Load
As I made my festive to-do lists, I realised that there were some jobs I could delegate to other members of the family. My brain-fog is terrible and added stress doesn’t help. I’ve explained to the husband that Christmas is for us both, and not a week off for him. I need a break too.
He has seen the lists of things to do and got stuck in. I’m better at him at wrapping (he can’t get the corners how I like them), but he can help and cut tape, string and build a gift production line. He has also been helping with some of the pre-Christmas cooking and making things to put in the freezer which has been a great help.
The shops will either be closed or heaving over Christmas, so the other top tip I was given was to make myself a perimenopausal self-care kit. Your pharmacy will be able to recommend some over the counter remedies for your symptoms.
Stock up on what might help you and pack them away with your favourite self-care treats ready for when you have a moment of need over the festive period. There is no need to suffer from mood swings and anxiety with no chance of help or battling the sale-shopping crowds if you plan ahead.
Don’t let Christmas leave you a weeping, frazzled, husk of a woman. Stay away from the log fires, find quiet spots and time out when you need it (pop outside if you must for a few mins), put ice in your drinks, let your jewellery and not your face do the sparkling, and don’t feel guilty if you need an afternoon snooze. You don’t need to be superwoman – it’s just a roast dinner with silly hats and tinsel.
Have a peri-merry Christmas!