Chaos to Calm

Festive season burnout? Here's how to bounce back into 2024.

December 24, 2023 Sarah McLachlan
Chaos to Calm
Festive season burnout? Here's how to bounce back into 2024.
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Today we’re celebrating the end of the first season, but also moving into 2024, and the multitude of possibilities that presents us with, if only we weren't so exhausted and craving couch time! 

And so this episode is dedicated to women who have felt overwhelmed by the holiday season's hustle, bustle, mental load, and are looking for ways to reclaim their energy and joy as they step into the New Year.  We're focusing on a common issue for women – festive season burnout. 

The festive season, while filled with joy and celebrations, can also bring its unique challenges, especially when juggling the complexities of perimenopause hormone changes. 

Tune in to hear how hormonal changes during perimenopause can amplify feelings of burnout and exhaustion. From sleep disruptions to managing stress and nutrition, we cover practical strategies to help you recover from the festive frenzy. Whether it's finding the right balance with festive treats or understanding the importance of hydration and exercise, this episode is packed with insights and tips tailored for women in their 40s and beyond.

This episode is more than just about recovery; it's about setting the stage for a year where you feel energised, balanced, calm, and in control. We talk about the power of reflecting on the past year, setting realistic goals, and how small, consistent changes can lead to significant improvements to your overall health and well-being. 

Join me as we explore how to make 2024 a year of your feeling amazing, living your best life, and embracing the changes of perimenopause. This is your invitation to transform the next year into a period of thriving, not just surviving, through the ups and downs of perimenopause.

FREEBIES:

  • Caught in a hormonal storm? The Perimenopause Decoder is the ultimate guide to understanding if perimenopause hormone fluctuations are behind your changing mood, metabolism and energy after 40, what phase of perimenopause you're in and how much longer you may be on this roller coaster for.
  • Been told your blood test results are "normal" or "fine" while you feel far from your best? It's time to dig deeper and uncover the missing piece of the puzzle. Discover the power of optimal blood test analysis with The Blood Test Decoder: Optimal Ranges for Women Over 40.

To connect with Sarah and learn more about her services, visit her website at www.theperimenopausenaturopath.com.au, follow along on Instagram at @theperimenopausenaturopath.

Sarah McLachlan:

Hey there, I'm Sarah McLachlan. Thanks for joining me on the Chaos to Calm podcast, a podcast designed for women over 40 who think that changing hormones might be messing with their mood, metabolism and energy and want to change that in a healthy, sustainable and permanent way. Each episode will explore topics related to health and wellness for women in their 40s, like what the heck is happening to your hormones, what to do about it with nutrition, lifestyle and stress management, and inspiring conversations with guests sharing their insights and tips on how to live your best life in your 40s and beyond. So if you're feeling like you're in the midst of a hormonal storm and don't want perimenopause to be horrific, then join me on Chaos to Calm, as I share with you how to make it to menopause without it wrecking your relationships and life. Hello and welcome to the Chaos to Calm podcast, where we always discuss how to master the chaos of changing hormones, mood, metabolism and energy once you hit your 40s and beyond. I am Sarah, the perimenopause naturopath, your host, and welcome to episode number 30. Today's episode it's so special, not just because we're on the brink of 2024 and so this is the last episode of 2023, but we're also celebrating a year of our podcast journey together. Yay. So, first up, a massive thank you for being here, for listening, for sharing your feedback with me. Oh, and if you haven't, please do, you can find me in the show notes and send me a message. Are there? I love to hear your feedback. I love to hear what you like, what you don't like, what do you want to talk about next? Because this is for you, this podcast, and to help you through this journey that is, perimenopause and intermenopause and beyond.

Sarah McLachlan:

So, in the spirit of perimenopause and perimenopause musings, today we're going to talk about how to bounce back after the festive season and how to set the stage for an amazing new year in 2024. Because, well, it's been a whirlwind, hasn't it Like? Last I heard, it was February and now it's December and festive season. Well, yowsers, it's, you know, so much fun, lots of activities, but also lots of obligations, lots of emotions too. And I want you to know it's not just about surviving the festive season or the festivities. I think it's actually about thriving, you know, and stepping into the new year feeling energized and excited, ready to go. Not just, like in the context of new year, new me, because I really hate that. I find it so toxic, but I think it's about a natural season for reflection and review, and so that's a bit of what we're going to talk about today, because I want you to start thinking right now.

Sarah McLachlan:

When was the last time you felt energized and excited, ready to go into a new year? I bet it was like at least a few years ago, if not even before you had kids. Right, I know I have been here with you, I understand, and so you know I do I do. What we're talking about today is the work that I do as well, and I want you to share in it too, because I think it's really transformative in how you move into the next year and make it, you know, your me year. I did a reel on Instagram recently about making it a me year, and you know part of it's in jest. But, seriously, let's make next year the focus on you and getting you feeling great.

Sarah McLachlan:

So, first of all, let's talk about the festive burnout, because, yeah, I want to talk about why the festive season can feel more like a marathon than a holiday, like, yeah, yeah, it's full of joy, but like let's be real, it's totally exhausting. I know, you know how it goes. You got social events stacked on end of your activities, everything starts piling up. Then you've got extra gift buying to do and giving, and sometimes some of you might feel pressure of like to find the perfect gift for your family or your friends or whatever. You've got family gatherings, there's extra cooking, there's extra food shopping and you know there's all the mental labor underpinning all of that festivity. It's a lot, and you know.

Sarah McLachlan:

And now in your 40s and beyond, you've got perimenopause and perimenopause hormone changes on top of that and you know it's like trying to juggle on a unicycle. Maybe we know it's possible. Well, I know it's possible because my 13 year old is mastering it this term and his circus glasses. Maybe you don't know that it's possible, but here I'm telling you it is. So, yes, you can't. It's like juggling on a unicycle. It's possible. But wow, that is hard, that's really hard. And it's the same in perimenopause.

Sarah McLachlan:

You know things that you used to be just fine with and cope with. You know, like the festive season and all the extra mental labor and challenges of it. Then Maybe you cope with that just fine a year or two years or five years ago, but now you're not. So remember your bodies are on this hormonal roller coaster. There's so much change happening and that can mean mood swings, fatigue and all the and you know, of course, all the other symptoms, but don't forget your stress. Resilience is reduced because of that, mostly because of the decline in progesterone which is happening quietly behind us while the chaotic ups and downs of estrogen is slapping us right in the face. So, yeah, please have some grace and or treat yourself to some compassion and kindness, just like you would a friend, because your body's going through and your mind, your brain, is going through this massive change and it's totally impacting the way that you can cope with this situation.

Sarah McLachlan:

So, you know, I haven't even got into talking about post festive season recovery. I'm already ranting about being realistic with your plans. Be realistic with what you actually can achieve, and you know it's a whole nother episode around saying no and setting your boundaries there as well, and there's plenty of people writing about it there as well, you know. So maybe I don't need to do it, but I want you to start thinking about these things. So another question for you. I want you to think about this festive season.

Sarah McLachlan:

How did you feel most of the time? Do you feel energised, enthusiastic, in control calm, maybe some of the time, none of the time. What was it for you? Maybe you just felt like you were only just keeping your head above water Not drowning, not waving, but drowning. Maybe you felt overwhelmed. Have a think about it. Pause now, if you need to, and write it down. This, you know, don't try and keep this all in your head. It's actually great work to put down on paper and have a think about. So do feel free to pause while we're going through here and write your reflections down.

Sarah McLachlan:

I think it's really important to reflect because it helps us understand what we need to focus on for recovery and rejuvenation. So you know, while you're thinking about that, how did you feel through the festive season? You can be thinking about oh, what does that tell me about what my body needs? And you know it's so often we're running on autopilot, we're not tuned into how we're feeling, how our body is coping. So these reflections are really important and I encourage my clients to think about this kind of stuff every single day.

Sarah McLachlan:

Got a craving Tune into what your body, what is your body actually need right now? What does it need from you? Because we're totally conditioned to not consider ourselves how we're feeling, what our body needs. And I think as well, there's an aspect of like what's the point? Because for lots of us, lots of the time, what is the point to tuning into how you're feeling you? Probably you might feel powerless to change that, or you might feel that you don't have support, or you know what are you going to do? What are you going to get rid of? What's going to come off your plate? So, acknowledging all of that as well, but also reminding you that we always have the opportunity and the choice to say no or set boundaries and not do all the things.

Sarah McLachlan:

Now, I know that that can feel really confronting and that might feel like you might feel really angry about that or annoyed that. I'm saying that I used to feel that way about it too. But actually, when you start tuning in to your body, to your body's needs, and realising all the choices that you are making and not making a choice, not making a decision is actually making a choice then you'll see, you'll realise this all these little opportunities for us to tune into how we're feeling, what we need and what we can do to change that. So have a think how you're feeling, what is your body and what is your mind need right now? What would you tell a friend if they were telling you what you're thinking in your mind, what your body needs? What advice would you give them? I always think that's a really great way to tune into things you know is thinking about what advice we would say to a friend.

Sarah McLachlan:

Because often and let's start here, this is my first strategy for your post festive season recovery is I actually want you to activate recovery mode and thinking about putting yourself on your priority list and yourself and implementing self care strategies and I'll talk more about them in a minute but the first one that I want to talk about is self compassion being kind to yourself, giving yourself some grace and some space and acknowledging, oh well, my body, my brain is changing, my hormones are changing, I'm not able to just do as much as I was before, and not berating yourself or telling yourself all these horrible things that we often do. You know, self talk can get so horrible in these situations or when we go down this path and feel like we've we've, you know, failed or we're not juggling all the balls and the things that we need to do. So, first up, start thinking about being kind and compassionate to yourself. If you like to read or listen to books, dr Kristin Neff in E double F has an amazing book on self-compassion. I always get my clients to read it because it's so important. You know like it's almost impossible for us to activate and do the self-care and do the work that we need to do to care for ourselves and set our boundaries, and do that without self-compassion. So, yeah, it is time to put yourself on your priority list, even just a few minutes a day. And this is the thing. True, self-care is actually just small habits through the day, every day, and there are work wonders for you. I can promise you that. So you know we're going to talk about some things that I think are fundamental or basics.

Sarah McLachlan:

So, first up, sleep Like it's not a luxury, it's a necessity. It's where your body, your brain, does lots of repair and rejuvenation work. So quality sleep is really like hitting the reset button for your body and your mind, your nervous system as well. It is the counter to your busy, stressful life. So it's critical all the time, for women, I think, but even more so when you're navigating peri-menopause and your stress resilience is reduced because your progesterone is declining. So, ultimately, you want to aim for eight hours of sleep. You want at least six, like I think, minimum seven to eight. So you've got to put yourself to bed at a time that's going to give you the opportunity to get that sleep, and please before midnight. Like, get to bed before midnight to really get the most from that sleep. A time from 10 to 12 is really like worth double that time after midnight.

Sarah McLachlan:

Okay, so sleep, I mean, I haven't even looking at my notes. I have not even mentioned stress management. I can't believe it. Every episode I talk about stress, right, all right, so it's just a given. But actually all the things that we're talking about are going to help you manage your stress level and your busyness. And you know, like, one of the biggest things I've just talked about already is self-compassion and self-reflection and self-awareness. Awareness is great. It's just the opportunity to change your behavior, change your habit. Once we realize what we're doing and aware of it, then we have a choice. We have a choice to make Do we address it or do we not? And remember, doing nothing is a choice. You've made a choice there, all right.

Sarah McLachlan:

So let's talk about food, because you know I love food as medicine, and this is where you can really make a difference, especially after lots of festive treats. Let's, you know, shift your focus back to nourishing yourself. You know, if you've over-indulged, you're probably feeling a bit rubbish and really looking forward to nourishing and supporting your body. So, first up, we want to think about protein, protein, protein, protein. Protein is king. It's not just about building muscles, which is really important as we get older, but it's about keeping your blood sugar levels balanced, which is going to keep you full and satisfied and keep your mood and energy stable too. We are going to start the protein blitz at breakfast.

Sarah McLachlan:

Please don't skip breakfast. Please don't have coffee without breakfast inside you first. It doesn't have to be a grand affair. If you like eggs for breakfast, go for it. If you don't want to cook also, don't worry about it. Have some yogurt. Maybe you'll have sheep or goats. Maybe try that, because I find for most of my clients it's a lot better tolerated than cows dairy, especially in perimenopause. Maybe you'll have a smoothie lover Not really a smoothie lover, because I prefer you to chew your food and power up your digestion but if you are going to have a popper scoop of plain, unflavored collagen in it, or some yogurt, nuts and seeds or wonderful protein sources there. Please no jam, vegima or plain avoc.

Sarah McLachlan:

On toast, oh my gosh, if you really want to have toast and I get it, it is very satisfying and soothing but please put some goat or some sheep's cheese or an egg on it and make sure it's a really great quality wholemeal sourdough rye, 100% rye, not the rye that's like a tiny bit of rye with mostly wheat. So, yeah, really, jouze up your toast if you're going to have it, but ideally have some protein before it or instead of that. So also don't forget fat, fiber, phytoestrogens really important in your 40s and so phytoestrogens will come from veggies, nuts, seeds, lentils, pulses. If you want some more ideas on how to balance your plate and your meals, then please go and download my freebie, the Kale's to Karm Balance Meal Formula, from the link in the show notes. It is going to be your BFF.

Sarah McLachlan:

And let's talk about irritants. I'm not just talking about people in your life that are giving you the irritants. I want to talk about the main irritants that you're consuming. So always consider or be honest with yourself about how much of them you're consuming and how the order of them with your meals makes such a big difference. So what the heck am I talking about? What is irritating to your body, to your gut digestion, your hormones, your liver? Caffeine, alcohol, sugar? Never on an empty stomach, please, please never, never on an empty stomach. Always have some a balanced meal beforehand, or at least some protein, before you indulge.

Sarah McLachlan:

So alcohol, let's be strategic. If you choose to drink, pace yourself. Alternate each alcoholic beverage with a glass of water Where's to drink when I was younger? And we have a drink in one hand and water in the other, a tweenie or a clear beer. Anyway, it's not just good for your liver, but it's going to keep you hydrated, which has a whole host of other blessings for your body as well. And remember, you don't actually have to drink at every social event, despite what everyone in Australia would have you believe. You're not a weirdo if you don't drink. It's actually weird that the norm is that we all have to consume alcohol to have a good time. So listen to your body. If skipping the booze makes you feel better, go for it. And you know practice saying no thanks politely, or telling people that you're not drinking tonight, and let them deal with that as well.

Sarah McLachlan:

The reason that people get so weird about it is that our human brains try and keep us safe, happy and oh, I forgot in the first one that happy and safe anyways, and main things with the least amount of resources. So they want to use the least. Our brain wants to use the least amount of resources, and change to our brain equals danger. So if someone says to you, or if you say to someone that you're not drinking, their brain starts to freak out because they're like oh my god, she said she's not drinking. If she's not drinking, why is that? And then what am I doing? That's bad for my body. Then am I putting myself in danger if I am drinking? And so they will try and talk you out of not drinking because you're not drinking means they have to review what they're doing, and are they putting themselves in danger by drinking? Well, yes is the answer, because it is a car synogen and it particularly increases our breast cancer risk, which you know if you've listened to my previous episodes.

Sarah McLachlan:

I've talked about that a lot. Okay, so it's okay to say no to alcohol. Please, at least as a minimum, stick to the government guidelines and you can find them by googling and I would say have less alcohol than that. But you know, if that's you minimum, then well, if that's your max, then it's better than what a lot of people are doing. So not on an empty stomach. Same for sugary foods. I want you to opt for quality over quantity here and eat them mindfully, because you know it's not just about shoving in as much as you can before you, you know, think, oh my god, how did I eat that whole block of chocolate and then feel a whole bunch of shame and anger with yourself over it. I want you to enjoy the festive treats without overdoing it, so mindful eating is really important here, and when you're planning to go out, make a plan, decide in advance what you're going to eat and what you're going to drink, and it'll help you stay on track and makes it easier to politely decline offers that don't align with your plan too.

Sarah McLachlan:

Now, coffee, look, I love it too. Honestly I do. It's the only reason I have breakfast in the morning, so I can have my coffee afterwards. But you know, come on, it doesn't serve you well to be hyper caffeinated. You, just, you, just you know often you'll get stuck in a vicious cycle too much caffeine can't sleep, or don't get sleep, and or don't get deep, restorative sleep. I should say there, if you're tired, you need to caffeinate you over, caffeinate again and you start the whole cycle over and over again. So you know, it's nice to have a coffee with a friend, for sure. But why not switch to decaf? I have decaf after my breakfast coffee because otherwise it's me lying with my eyes wide open at 2 am and there's really great decaf available most places now. So really no excuses. And if you're gonna get decaf, choose. Most places are doing Swiss water decaf or a similar low-tox process as well. So you know, enjoy.

Sarah McLachlan:

So I've mentioned about staying hydrated or drinking water in between your alcoholic beverages. It really is your best friend, as big you know it's. It's such a basic but it's so. So many people are under hydrated. So I did write a whole blog about it where you can read more about it, my obsession with plain filtered water. Visit the perimenopause naturopathcomau forward slash blog and search for hydration. You'll find it. You might also find something else you want to read about there, but it is your best friend for internal and external glow, to help with your cognition, your thinking, your mood, your energy, all sorts of stuff. So go drink some water. That's how they tell my kids all the time go drink some water and exercise.

Sarah McLachlan:

So this is, you know, especially coming into the new year ever, I often feel like everyone's gonna set lots of goals around flogging themselves, basically, and adding more stress to their body. I want you to find joy in movement and exercise. You know yoga, walking, dancing, cycling, stretching, pilates, jumping on the trampoline with the kids or swinging from the monkey bars a bit harder to do these days, for sure, but it was whatever makes your heart happy and your body energised. Exercises about bringing you fun and happiness, joys. It's not about being like another thing on your to-do list or you should list, or something that you berate yourself about because you haven't done it. And exercise is certainly not about flogging yourself daily as a punishment for what you've eaten.

Sarah McLachlan:

And yeah and anyway, you don't need to exercise to lose weight if that's your goal. I asked my clients not to exercise for the first few weeks of their time with me in the Chaos to Calm method. Seriously, because there really just isn't the need to try and create a calorie gap to lose weight. In fact, research actually tells us that over exercising can have the opposite effect on your body it can increase insulin resistance and increase fat storage. I'm not going to go into it anymore now. I'm going to restrain myself because it is probably another whole podcast episode. So remember, earlier this year I did talk to Bec de Moret about exercise, but maybe I'll do one. That's all on research about exercise and insulin resistance and fat storage, all right.

Sarah McLachlan:

So, lastly, I want to touch on mindfulness, because it's something we hear about a lot, but really I want you to think about it as like living in the now. So, yes, deep breathing, short meditations all wonderful things of mindfulness and definitely help manage stress and maintain your emotional balance. But there's also things like knitting, crocheting, sitting in your favorite spot at home with a hot cup of tea and staring out the window, or having a walk with no headphones, no conversation, just your thoughts and your daydreams. Time is really, really important. So, you know, some quiet times, some solitude, is really important for our brains, especially while they're going through the massive rewiring of perimenopause and intermenopause there as well. So, please, please, schedule yourself some quiet time each day. Maybe it's your shower time. So this is something that I say to my kids no one's allowed to come in the bathroom or talk to me while I'm in the bathroom. That is my quiet time there. Of course, if there's blood or danger or something's happening, they can come and interrupt me, but as a general rule, I ask them to just let me have that as my quiet time. Maybe it's during your walk, you know I was going to say, while you're driving to work, but that probably isn't safe, so don't do that. Don't daydream while you're driving, please. And maybe you're like me and you just work from home, so I don't have a commute unless you can't walking from, like, my bedroom down to my desk. But okay, so you know, some of these are small, some of these are bigger, but they're all conscious choices and they'll make a huge difference to how you feel. It's not about perfection, but it is about making choices that honor your body and your well-being as well.

Sarah McLachlan:

So let's talk about laying the groundwork for a great 2024. And you know it's naturally a great time to reflect. It's winding down after the holiday, after the festive season. We're starting to think about the new year, what we want about it, what we want from it. But first I want you to start by looking back at 2023. What did you love? What felt a bit off what worked well for you and what didn't as well.

Sarah McLachlan:

It's really important to think about the good stuff, but also think about what didn't work and what habits, behaviors, activities, what routines do you want to carry forward and which ones don't you want to carry forward, which ones do you want to leave behind? So this reflection I want you to cover all aspects of your life, not just your health, and thinking, like I said, about what's worked and what hasn't worked as well. And it's not about criticism, it's not about getting down on yourself and thinking about all the things that you didn't do. It's about understanding where you're at, what's worked well, what hasn't, and where the opportunities are for you to learn from and grow. So, thinking about the habits, the routines that serve you and those that haven't served you well. Now you might want to pause and write, start writing, start thinking and set. You know, set your timer for 10-20 minutes and go to town and then come back, unpause and let's think about what 2024 can be.

Sarah McLachlan:

What do you want to achieve? Maybe it's nurturing your body with more wholesome foods. Maybe it's finding time for mindfulness or setting boundaries that respect your energy. Maybe it's a morning routine. Your goals, I want them to feel really exciting for you, not like a burden or another thing to do, thinking about what brings you joy and energy. Think about what you want to take in that is going to give you energy or maintain your energy, and think big Like even if you don't hit that goal, well, you will have done some amazing, spectacular things while you're trying. So think about that too, as well, and maybe part of your goals for 2024 is to develop a nourishing start to your day, one that helps you incorporate the basics of your health, like hydration and nourishing breakfast, some strength exercises, some mindful moments. That's something I initiated in lockdowns and it's stuck for the last two years since we've been out of them. It helps you feel great. A bonus is I'm better able to serve my family, my clients and friends, but the main thing is it works for me and it sets me up for a great day.

Sarah McLachlan:

I always start with breakfast for my cats, of course them first and then I sit and have my coffee in my favorite chair, looking out the window at the garden, having a bit of a daydream. I do Whirl, doesn't everyone? I don't know. It's fun, it stretches my brain, and then I do 10 minutes of strength exercises and stretches and do my shower dress blah, blah, blah ready for the day. So part of the slow mornings as well is actually on Sundays. I spend 30 minutes meal planning and planning out my work for the week ahead, so I always know what I'm in for. I have the opportunity to get an ask for the supports that I need, or outsource or do online shopping. Whatever it is, I'm ready to go and I don't have to spend or waste lots of brain power thinking over what's for dinner. What do I do to do today? Blah, blah, blah.

Sarah McLachlan:

So, yeah, I really encourage you to think about your morning routine, have a bit of a set it up Sunday structure, and being organized actually gives you a lot of flexibility. Someone very wise taught me that a few years ago and it's actually really true. So I encourage you to have a think about what is going to help you have your most amazing, best year in 2024 and in spite of, despite perimenopause or because of perimenopause However it pans out for you I really want to encourage you to do this reflection and review. The human control of your health and well-being during perimenopause is more than just commitment. It's really that act of self love, self care, self compassion. It's about listening to your body, honoring your needs, making choices that nurture your health and happiness and your overall quality of life, because, you know, it's not just about surviving.

Sarah McLachlan:

Through perimenopause, I want you to thrive, and you deserve to thrive, and you can thrive in your own unique and beautiful way. So I want you to encourage you, carry this spirit with you in 2024, whether it's through nourishing your body with your food, mindfulness, setting boundaries. Maybe it's joining me in the chaos to calm method for some more personalized or finessed solutions to what's going on for you. I know that you have the strength, the resiliency, opportunity to make this coming year remarkable. So thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a part of the chaos to calm community.

Sarah McLachlan:

Your stories, your experiences, the challenges you overcome inspire me every day, and I hope that my stories and my knowledge that I've shared with you has helped empower you to see that, yeah, perimenopause does not have to be horrific. Actually, it can be a really remarkable phase of life. So here's me wishing you a 2024 that's filled with health, joy and an abundance of calm amidst the chaos, and remember I'm always here to support you on this journey. Please take care, and I can't wait to continue together with you on the chaos to calm podcast in the new year. It's really common for women over 40 to experience the chaos of changing hormones, mood, metabolism and energy, but I hope you know now that common doesn't have to equal normal for you or them. You can help others understand they aren't alone in feeling this way and that perimenopause doesn't have to be horrific, by subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with other women in their 40s and beyond. Thanks so much for listening and sharing your time with me today in this chaos to calm conversation.

Festive Season and Vibrant New Year
Breakfast, Irritants, and Mindfulness
Reflection and Goal-Setting for 2024
Calm in Perimenopause Chaos