The holidays are here again. For most of us that means more parties, more family time, and more food (and drinks!) I’m going to share with you today, my 3 best tips for navigating the holidays without wreaking havoc on your hormone health.
For women, once we hit puberty, we have to learn to respect our hormonal cycles or they can be knocked out of balance by our lifestyle. If they are out of balance, they will let us know (loud and clear!) in the form of PMS, irregular cycles, headaches, fertility challenges, dramatic mood swings, energy crashes, burnout, or stubborn weight gain. If we don’t respect our hormonal health by the time we reach menopause, we will suffer with more fatigue, hot flashes, night sweats, and weight gain. (By the way, men must respect their hormonal cycles too… but they are different, so we’ll talk about them another day.)
Your hormonal health has consequences for your general health too. When your adrenal glands… what I like to call the foundation organs of your endocrine (hormonal) system… are strained by chronic stress or a poor diet, your blood sugar will become unstable, and you will experience anxiety. Long term this can lead to heart disease, stroke, or mental health illnesses.
So, how can we enjoy the holidays without knocking our hormonal health off kilter?
1. Enjoy the holidays by saying no! This is a novel concept given our perfectionist vision of the holiday season, the increased pressure on already strained schedules, and the need to please relatives near and far. This year, it’s time to make a change. Open your December calendar, and delete anything that doesn’t bring you holiday joy, wrap you in holiday peace, or fill your soul with overflowing and generous pools of love. If it’s exhausting for you to fill out hundreds of holiday cards to send to people you haven’t had time to even text or email this year, boycott the holiday cards. If you hate to travel during the holiday rush, shift your tradition, stay home, and invite some close friends over. If you still want to visit your far-flung family, do so at a quieter time of year. This step is one of the hardest, and most important for preserving your long-term health (and your short-term sanity!)
2. Say yes to holiday adventures that you actually enjoy! Do you like to go out in the woods with your family and pick out a tree? Then, turn off your cell phones, delegate the weekend chores to a neighborhood errand service, and walk in the woods… you’ll be able to feel your breath deepen and your heartbeat slow.
3. Go to bed early, and nourish yourself . Winter is the best time for healing our hormonal systems. Because of the longer nights, winter is the best time to get more rest. I give each of my clients a “laptop curfew.” I recommend that they turn off all of their electronic devices and the TV by 8pm or so, take a warm bath, drink some tea, and crawl into bed with a good book (or read quietly with their kids.) On a lazy December Sunday, bake yourself some holiday nourishment. Instead of loading up on processed, overly sweet holiday baked goods, try my hormone healthy (and delicious!) Apple Crisp.
This holiday, plan to give and receive peace and joy. Your health depends on it!
Jessica Drummond, MPT, CCN, CHC founder of jessicadrummond.com is a licensed physical therapist with specialized experience in women’s health. She is the author of The Female Adolescent Health chapter in Women’s Health Physical Therapy, a textbook for professionals. She is certified as a clinical nutritionist and as a health coach. She has helped her private clients to ditch their PMS and crazy mood swings, lose stubborn weight, overcome infertility, get their energy and focus back, sleep well, and reclaim their lost sex drive. She works with teen girls and women of all ages to improve their health, and prevent or recover from burnout. Her program, Powerful Puberty, is nationally known as the go-to program for educating mothers on healthfully navigating (and surviving!) puberty with their daughters.