Festive survival guide: Menopause at Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but with the pressure to buy presents, attend festive parties and eat copious amounts of food, it can also be a stressful time - especially when you’re also managing menopause symptoms.

To guide you through menopause during the festive season, we’ve teamed up with Issviva ambassador and This Morning Doctor, Zoe Williams, and together we’ve offered five excellent pieces of advice to help you on your way to a healthy, happy Christmas.

1. Make time for yourself

‘Tis the season for giving, but remember to keep you at the top of your priority list. It’s normal to feel fatigue and mood swings during menopause, so overdoing it when it comes to your festive to-do list won’t help when you’re dealing with menopause.

Dr Zoe tells us: “There is nothing selfish about taking some time for yourself, or sharing the added workload of cooking, present wrapping, and it is absolutely fine to delegate the task of creating festive cheer.

“In fact, recognising your own needs and taking care of yourself is one of the best ways of looking after the rest of the family. One of the kindest things we can do for the people that we love and care about is to allow them to love and care for us too.“

2. Have a ‘little’ bit of everything to manage Christmas and menopause

As easy as it is to overindulge at Christmas, too much sugar can make your menopause symptoms worse.

As you metabolise glucose less efficiently during perimenopause and menopause, it’s advised to stick to low amounts to ensure you keep your weight under control throughout the Christmas period.

A small amount is fine though - it is Christmas after all!

3. Take it easy on the bad stuff to keep your hot flushes under control

When it comes to festive tipples, however, it really is best to take it easy.

From mulled wine to bucks fizz and boozy hot chocolate, temptation is everywhere at Christmas, but alcohol can be linked to a range of menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms.

Brain fog, hot flushes, fatigue and night sweats can all get much worse if you’ve had an excessive amount of alcohol, so keep this in mind and take care.

4. Talk to your friends and family about your menopausal symptoms

If you’re struggling with menopause symptoms it can be really difficult to open up to friends and family. But, talking to people who care about you can be a real help.

Dr Zoe explains how you should speak to those around you about your feelings: “Tell (your family) about your menopausal symptoms and what you are experiencing, because them understanding can make a huge difference for everyone.”

Simple changes can make menopause a less overwhelming experience for the whole family, so whether it’s you, a friend, your mum, sister or auntie going through menopause, make time to talk.

5. Take in the sights and enjoy a wintery walk

During the festive season, with all the planning, prepping, and celebrating, it's easy to forget about exercising. However, it's important not to neglect fitness and make time for it. You can take a leisurely stroll outside, enjoy your neighbour's creative holiday lighting, or visit your local town or village centre to soak up the festive atmosphere. Despite the chilly weather, it's a stunning time of year to get outside and be active!

6. Take advantage of the longer nights

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse... Well, for those lucky few maybe!

The holiday season can be an exciting, stressful, and busy time, which can lead to sacrificing sleep. It's already difficult to sleep while experiencing menopause symptoms, so it's important to take time to "switch off" and get enough rest. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night is crucial, so check out Charlotte Hunter’s advice on how to get some good rest during the winter season.

7. Don’t sweat the small stuff

Life is never perfect, so don’t put too much pressure on having the "perfect Christmas". Embrace the unique quirks and imperfections of your family's festive celebrations, even if the tree is slightly crooked and there aren't enough wine glasses.

While you may not be able to control your hot flushes, you can certainly control your stress levels. Just stop, take a deep breath, and remember what the holiday season is really about… Presents!

Just kidding, of course. The real joy of Christmas lies in making happy memories with your family. After all, Great Gran drinking cherry from a novelty mug could become a cherished Christmas memory for years to come.

8. Lean on us for menopause support

Spending time with loved ones is important at Christmas, but if you’re not able to or if you’re feeling lonely, the Issviva Facebook community group is here for you.

It’s a safe space where thousands of women come together to support each other by telling stories, discussing symptoms and chatting about their menopause journey.

Dr Zoe confirms: “Feeling like you’re being heard and understood is absolutely imperative at this time in your life and the sense of community and support on Issviva’s online forum is fantastic.”

On our website, you’ll also find lots of helpful information, advice and a range of different health products to help women going through menopause.

If you’re struggling with low mood, fatigue or insomnia, a healthy diet can make all the difference, but if you need a little extra help, our Mood & Energy, Gut Health and ZZZZs could be just what you’re looking for.

The end of the year is in sight and if you’re going to be embarking upon a health kick in January, these tips should give you a good head start!