The Holidays are coming! Stress less this year
WARNING: If you never experience stress during the holiday season, never feel stretched to your limit by the end of December; if you sail through the holidays with boundless energy and the ability to fulfill everyone’s expectations, scroll on; this blog/email is not for you.
Honestly, now—if you have stress-filled, frazzled holidays with sprinkles of joyful moments and a few meltdowns, read on. There’s help on the horizon!
I love and dread the holiday season. It’s not that I don’t love the idea of the holidays; I do. I love the music, singing the carols, the inexplicable child-like excitement, the decorations, the tree, the rich, delectable foods, and the precious memories. In the past few years, however, all of the changes within me, my family, and the world, have led to some disappointment and melancholy. In recent years, it’s the execution of the dream of the holidays, the images and their symbolism that always trips me up. If I’m not careful, my expectations set me up for disappointment, and the inevitable family drama tilts me off-kilter.
First—ahhh, Thanksgiving! My dream is the gathering of the clan from far and near, seated around a table overflowing with love, laughter, and favorite foods. The ultimate goal is to bring everyone together in love, as we honor each other and our ancestors. What an amazing image Normal Rockwell paints in our minds of families gathering in gratitude. Today the image has gotten blurry, as the reality of a post-covid reunion with all the relatives may warm your heart or send icy shivers down your spine. Gatherings have become complicated in this post-covid, politically divided world.
Thanksgiving or some might say Halloween, begins the big push of the holiday season. Social media, television, and marketing at this time of year are unrelenting. We are saturated with images of perfect families behaving perfectly, perfect homes decorated perfectly—and kept perfectly clean—the giving of perfect gifts, and perfect, grateful joy.
Let’s face it; the holidays are work.
Lots of work, especially if you are the mom, partner, or spouse responsible for production managing this entire season. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, or another holiday in December, coordinating all the moving parts is a full-time job on top of the rest of your life. My holiday list has always been long: travel arrangements, shopping for gifts, holiday cards, family traditions like baking, caroling, and decorating the house, (inside and out), decorating a tree, attending parties, hosting a party, religious services, fundraisers, cleaning the house, and preparing for company, setting a holiday table, shopping for the meals, preparing the meals and the inevitable cleaning up from all of it. Just reading this list makes me want a nap. It’s EXHAUSTING.
Women in the Regency stage of life ages 45-70 already have a lot of change going on in their physical, psychological, and spiritual lives. Trying to manage the holidays and everyone’s expectations while going through this complete transformation can be extremely challenging. Managing the holidays when we were in the midst of our householder years was tough enough, but now we have other mighty changes to add to the holiday punch.
Perimenopausal Rage—Midlife Desolation–Menopausal Overwhelm
If you are in perimenopause, you may be feeling the shift from the hormone balance that helped you focus on everyone else to the hormone balance that demands you focus on yourself and your needs. As our peri-self-talk becomes stronger, we can begin to feel the welling up of all the things that we let slide, all the personal needs put aside for the good of the family, all the small slights, unspoken resentments, big and small—for all that we had to give up to raise a family or focus on a career, or both. They all rush ashore like a full moon high tide, triggering a flood of all that pent-up emotion, frustration, and loss… all at once. This is the rage of “What about me?”, of feeling that we have given much and are left with a worn-out spirit and body in return. The dam that held back these tides was the hormones that urged us to put everyone else first, to tend, care, and nurture everyone and everything but ourselves. Add this rage and these feelings to the demands of the holidays, and you have the potential for a storm of stress, anxiety, and even guilt.
If you’re living in the Midlife Universe of “What now?” you can feel like you are walking a path of desolation. Maybe your kids have moved out, and you’re suffering from an empty nest, or in the last year, they moved back in! Speaking from experience, I’m not sure which is worse!! Perhaps one career is plodding to an end or winding up, and you want a change. Everything you knew and felt sure of is changing. It’s the time of: “What does all this mean, what is my purpose now? “Who am I now?” “Do I have any new dreams; is there time left to achieve them?” “Wow, more time is behind me than in front of me!” “What’s next for me?” While we’re journeying through this existential territory, which can feel like a tour of the underworld, the holidays can become a desperate distraction to recreate what was, usually leading to disappointment, or ultimately making the holiday season feel like an unappreciated, unwelcome burden, again.
All of the above applies to the women who are closing in on the threshold of menopause or have crossed it. Emotions may be running high, relationships are being renegotiated, and physical indicators such as hot flashes, a lagging libido, sleeplessness, weight gain, and more can cause ongoing frustration and exhaustion. Changes in life circumstances such as employment, finances, relationships, health, loss, and proximity to loved ones can also cause additional stress and heartache during the holidays.
So, what’s a Regent girl to do? Is it possible to have a less stressful and more joyful holiday season? Yes. The time to plan for a happy holiday season is now. It’s possible to pick and choose what is actually important to you and your loved ones. It’s possible to create a plan and a calendar to help you navigate this not-quite-post-covid-holiday season so that you can enjoy it more, have less anxiety, and stress out less.
I’m offering a 3-hour one-time workshop on managing your holiday season, only for my email subscribers. So, now would be a great time to subscribe!
If you're already a subscriber, an email with the private registration link was sent to you Monday 11/01. If you subscribe today, or before November 10th, you'll receive an email with the link too!