12/02/2014 12:48 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Easy Tips to KISS Away Menopausal Holiday Stress

2013-12-27-Ellen_Dolgen_Menopause_Monday.jpgThey’re baaack!  The holidays can be stressful under the best of times, much less when menopausal hormones have you hot flashing, not sleeping and let’s face it, overreacting to every little thing.

Then there’s the big thing: you’ve committed to hosting the holiday dinner.  So, in between frenetic shopping, cookie baking, house decorating and an endless round of parties, how do you keep it together, so that when the doorbell rings, you’re not wishing you had a ticket to Tahiti rather than a pretend smile on your face?

First and foremost, send that tired internal mantra, ‘I’ve got to be perfect,’ packing.  Guess what?  Sometimes good enough is perfect and besides that, your guests are secretly glad you’re hosting and they’re not!

Give Yourself a KISS

Don’t let your Type-A personality take over. My motto for holiday hosting is: KISS:  Keep it Simple Sistah!

Creating an innovative theme for your holiday meal can change things up a bit and not over tax you or your wallet. One year, I only made the turkey and asked everyone to bring a favorite dish (along with their partner)!  I asked the guests not to tell me what they were making! I wanted it to be a surprise. The guests brought their surprise food offering covered with tin foil. Once I put all the dishes on the buffet table, cocktail in hand, we unveiled the dishes and guessed who made them. Can’t get any more KISS than this!

I have to admit, that at most holiday dinners I do find myself over eating (shocker!) Usually, sneaking off to my bedroom to rip off those pesky Spanx!  So one year, my holiday gathering was a Pajama Party.  Everyone came comfy and relaxed.  That holiday dinner was a huge hit! Warning: it was hard to get everyone to leave! I had to remind them it was not a slumber party.

Manage your stress

Any psychologist will tell you that striving to be perfect relates back to the fear of failure...needing to please everyone...and is a critical anxiety trigger. 

There are already cognitive changes in your brain during menopause due to hormonal fluctuations.  These can result in brain fog, which anxiety only serves to exasperate.

Since stress can be contagious, take some measures to help make this a stress free holiday.  If you are enjoying your holiday dinner, so will your guests.

To help manage holiday stress, try to maintain your healthy routine during the days leading up to the holidays.  Oh, we all fall off the wagon when it comes to diet and drinking, but at least make the attempt to eat clean for the most part.  Try to curb your overwhelming taste for alcohol at this time of year and remember to exercise to burn off those pesky stress hormones caused by frequent bursts of adrenaline.  Scientists now say it will likely lead to stubborn belly fat, which is really unhealthy for your heart, particularly during menopause.  

However, there’s always time for a little fun!  So, if you find yourself craving just a small glass of wine, one study in Oregon found that a drink every now and again might strengthen your bones.  As if you need an excuse for a good Merlot!

Schedule in some “me” time.

Your schedule is crazy busy, but if you put yourself on your own “To Do List”, you can make time for a casual walk, a bike ride, or some yoga. Taking time for quiet mindfulness through meditation is critical to your wellbeing and will provide you the reboot you’ll need to pull off a successful, peaceful family gathering.

While you are decking the halls with holly remember to set the mood for a good night’s sleep! Sleeplessness can be a real problem for women who are going through menopause - the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) lists trouble falling asleep as one of their main five symptoms of menopause. 

Before you hit the sack try some tricks to help relax your body and get you in the sleeping mode. For example, do something calming like reading a book while sipping on some chamomile tea, enjoying a candlelight bath, or just closing your eyes and listening to some soft music. As it gets closer to sleep time, prepare your bedroom so there are no distractions -- eliminate as much light and sound as possible. 

Your bedroom is your sanctuary.  Treat it as such by leaving that ever-present cell phone charging on the kitchen counter.

Researchers will tell you that being on electronics right before bedtime lights up your brain, at just the time you need those receptors in your gray matter to be winding down.  Remember the theme song from the movie Frozen: “Let it go!”  Trust me: the cell phone will be waiting for you the next morning.

A Little Social Time

Laughter is a tension reliever and it’s also just plain fun to laugh out loud over a good joke!  Let your family members provide some comic relief between courses.

Lucille Ball knew a thing or two about life and its stressors.  Life will always get crazy. It’s how you respond to the zaniness that separates the girls from the women.  If you need a quick visual--think Lucy and Ethel working in the chocolate factory.  

This year, put stress in its place while you enjoy the pleasure of your company...and theirs!  Happy Holidays!

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Ellen Dolgen is an outspoken women's health and wellness advocate, menopause awareness expert, author, and speaker.

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.

Menopause MondaysTM is a platform from which Ellen reaches the true needs of her readers through varied and substantive discussions of menopause, women's health, and the modern woman's life today as a menopausal woman. Her weekly newsletter provides readers the most current menopause news and research. With her updates, women gain access and the knowledge needed to take charge of their health and happiness. Her motto is: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!

In addition to Ellen's ever-growing social media presence, has fast become "the place" on the web for informative and entertaining women's menopause and wellness engagement. Ellen is #1 on Dr. Oz Top 10 Social HealthMakers on Menopause. In 2012, 2013 and 2014, / Menopause Mondays was named first on the list of the "Best Menopause Blogs" by Healthline. Ellen is also a regular contributor to over a dozen leading women's health blogs.

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