Beating the Holiday Blues
By: Bonny Osterhage
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but if you’re in the throes of menopause, the holidays can leave you feeling a bit more moody than merry. Symptoms such as low energy and increased stress are common, and if you already suffer from depression, or anxiety, it can all feel like it’s intensifying during the hustle and bustle of the season. This year may be especially challenging due to pandemic restrictions that may keep you from gathering with the ones you love. While it may be tempting to soothe yourself with holiday treats or a second cup of holiday “cheer,” sugar and alcohol aren’t the answer. In fact, they can make things worse by interrupting your sleep or adding on a few additional pounds. There are better ways to get out of your menopausal moodiness and beat the holiday blues.
Here are a few suggestions:
Get Social: You may feel like you aren’t good company right now, but the truth is that connecting with others can help you realize that you aren’t alone. In a year of social distancing, finding ways to connect with family and friends during the holidays can be tricky, but it’s worth the extra effort. Schedule time for online gatherings including dinners, happy hours, and other festive events. It may not be the same thing as getting together in person, but it can still lift your holiday spirits. Looking for more tips on how to connect? Check out our blog on how to stay social while social distancing.
Get Out Of Your Head: …and onto your feet. Whether it’s going for a run, walking your dog, or playing tag with your kids find a way to move your body and get those feel good endorphins flowing. Not only is exercise a natural mood elevator, effective at boosting endorphins, it also has the additional benefit of helping you manage any menopausal weight gain.
Do Unto Others: Studies show that performing acts of kindness can have a positive impact on your mental health. How? By releasing dopamine, which can help you feel good and has been shown to help combat depression and sadness. There’s no better time than the holidays to engage in random acts of kindness. Pay for the person behind you in the line at your favorite coffee shop, drop off toys at a local children’s shelter, or visit online with retirement home residents. No act of kindness is too small to make a big difference for both you and the recipient.
Watch What You “Feed” Yourself: No, we aren’t talking about your diet, although if you are struggling with an expanding waistline, a holiday cookie and eggnog binge won’t help you in the long run. What we are talking about is your social media feed. Are you constantly scrolling and comparing your holidays with everyone else’s? Are you following a lot of negative news sources? Just like you should feed your body good, healthy foods to keep it functioning at its best, the same is true for what you feed your brain. Take a digital detox, or remove accounts that make you feel sad, anxious, or scared.
Get Some Rest: Insomnia and menopause often go hand in hand. Night sweats, anxious thoughts and restlessness can make it hard to get a good night’s sleep. However, without a restful slumber, you end up feeling even more tired, lethargic, and cranky. It’s a vicious cycle, but you can break it. Try establishing a solid bedtime routine and sticking to it during the holidays. Create soothing nighttime rituals like warm baths, and hot tea, and remember to unplug your devices about an hour before bedtime. Powering down your electronics can help your mind start to power down too.
Finally, remember a little seasonal sadness isn’t uncommon, especially if you are in menopause, but if you are battling a serious depression or sadness that lasts for a long period of time, contact your health provider or reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). There is always someone who is willing to listen and help.