The holidays can be a difficult time of year for many people. Women with PCOS are no different and often report feeling down or depressed for a number of reasons.
Weight Gain - The holidays are notorious for weight gain. All the yummy treats, holiday parties and cocktails, and family meals are high in calories and can be a disaster for any diet or healthy lifestyle. Try bumping up your activity during December to keep yourself from gaining weight over the holiday season. The extra exercise can help you manage stress levels and prevent depression. You can also temporarily write down your meals using a food diary so you don’t lose track of your calories. One of the best things you can do is to eat before going to your holiday parties. That way, you control what you eat and don’t find yourself munching mindlessly. Avoid sugary cocktails and instead stick to wine or wine spritzers.
Self-Esteem – Many women with PCOS struggle with their self-esteem because of issues like weight gain, hirsutism, acne and infertility. Attending a lot of holiday parties or spending extended periods of time with family can sometimes worsen self-esteem. Make sure to surround yourself with positive people and situations that make you feel good about yourself. If that means skipping your office holiday party or avoiding dinner with your super-fertile cousin when you’ve been struggling to get pregnant, so be it. This might be the perfect time to take an extended trip with your spouse or close friends.
Depression – Women with PCOS are more likely to develop symptoms of depression, which can be exacerbated during the holidays. Extra stress, slacking on your exercise routine and weight gain can all contribute to and worsen feelings of depression. Keep an eye out for symptoms (difficulty sleeping oversleeping, feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, overeating or lack of appetite) or ask a trusted loved one to be an objective eye. Don’t be afraid to get help or see your doctor if you start noticing symptoms. It’s also important to find ways to manage stress and stay positive during the holiday season, as this can help prevent symptoms of depression from developing.
Stress – Let’s face it, the holidays can be very stressful. We have so much on our to-do lists – from decorating, shopping and cooking, to holiday parties and travel. The list can go on and on, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. Add in lots of family time (which can be stressful itself) and this is why so many people report not enjoying the holiday season at all.
There are many ways to deal with this stress. First and probably most important, give yourself a break. Go through your list, get rid of the things you don’t want to do and only keep the activities that you absolutely want to do. Second, start early. Instead of leaving your shopping and cooking until the last minute, give yourself a few months to get it all done. Of course, you can’t bake your Christmas cookies in October and expect them to last, but you can pick the recipes you want to make and buy the non-perishable items. You might even be able to prepare the dough and stick it in the freezer for a few weeks. Third, take some time for yourself – take an extra yoga class, plan a massage or a day out with friends or even just read a good book. Do whatever helps you relax and recharge.