Navigating holiday stress

Last updated on December 21st, 2012 at 09:26 pm

Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us. For parents, this means the juggling act of holiday shopping, planning family visits, work, school, and everyday life is about to kick in. But for women ages, 39-53, who may be amidst the throes of ‘perimenopause,’ the stress of the holidays might be too much to bear.

Perimenopause is the period in a woman’s life preceding menopause in which hormonal changes are already at work, causing a host of emotional and psychological fluctuations. This year approximately 60 million American women will be between the ages of 39 and 53. Most of these women will be experiencing these hormonal changes, which will not only affect them but their spouses, children, and loved ones, too.

In spite of perimenopause, the holidays can still be a time of celebration and joy—the key is to take control. Because perimenopausal symptoms are so unpredictable and intrusive, it’s important to structure plans ahead of time as much as possible

Here are five tips to set the stress and anxiety of perimenopause aside in an effort to create a holiday experience for you, your family and your loved ones:

Do your gift shopping far in advance. This will help you avoid the most stressful, frenzied shopping experiences in the stores—or worrying about packages arriving late if ordered online

Buy, clean, iron and otherwise prepare all holiday outfits at least one month before needed. This eliminates last minute meltdowns from missing shoes or broken zippers

If you are cooking, cook what you can ahead of time and freeze it. Many women swear by the vacuum sealers that eliminate freezer burn and leave food tasting fresh.

This is not the time to insist on all of the frills. Minimize! The most important thing is for people to enjoy each other. If some of the extra touches are left out, it won’t be nearly as noticeable as if mom has a panic attack!

Make sure to set aside adequate ‘down time.’ With the very hectic schedules around holiday time, an afternoon or even a couple of hours of rest and relaxation can prevent stress from getting out of control.

Deborah Wagner, Ph.D., is a diversely trained developmental psychologist, women’s mental health expert, and author of the new book, The Fifth Decade; Is it Just My Life or is it Perimenopause? She currently lives in northern New Jersey with her husband and a houseful of four-legged children. For more information visit: www.Deborah WagnerPhD.com.