Unless you’re living totally off the grid, have never walked through a shopping mall this time of year and have the unrivaled ability to completely ignore the festive cookie display at the supermarket, then you probably know the holiday season is here.
No matter which holidays you celebrate, there’s a chance you might spend at least some time with family members in the upcoming days and weeks. Which, if we’re being perfectly frank here, could be just as frightening as it is wonderful.
So, every year around this time I trot out my Hormonology Survival Guide to Family Get-Togethers as a way to help you get through holidays more easily based on where you’ll be in your monthly cycle when you see your kinfolk.
So, continuing my annual holiday tradition, here’s this year’s Hormonology Survival Guide to help you:
Hormonology Survival Guide
to Family Get-Togethers
Whether you love’em or dread’em, you can make every get-together with your relatives happier when you know how your hormones will be impacting your mood, desire to chat, patience with others, energy level and more.
Read on to find out what to expect from your next family shindig based on which week you’re on in your monthly cycle….
Day 1 (first day of period) to Day 7
If it’s the first day or two of your period, aches and fatigue may make you wish you could postpone this family fete for another time so you can hunker down on the couch with the TV remote and a hot water bottle. Since you can’t, you’ll likely grit your teeth and silently bear through the cheek-staining lipsticky kisses, awkward bony shoulder hugs and repeated questions about your job/relationship/life while daydreaming of the moment you can finally get some one-on-one face-time with the TV. If you’re past the period pain, however, there’s good news to report: Rising estrogen is making you chattier, more outgoing and social, putting you in the mood to mingle and reconnect with family members. Even better: This same hormone is lifting your mood, making you more willing to overlook most snarky back-handed compliments and re-tellings of thoroughly humiliating experiences you wish everyone would just forget. Of course, even Week 1 gals have their limits, so have a few conversation-changers ready to whip out in case of an emergency.
If you’re hosting… Prepare as much as you can ahead of time and recruit helpers. During menstruation, energy levels sag, so you’ll want an extra set of hands to help keep you going all day long.
Peaking estrogen will have you chatting up a storm! You’re starting lots of conversations and easily answering even the stickiest questions that only family members know how to pose for maximum squirming effect. Family jokesters will be swarming around you since this high hormone boosts your mood and makes it easier to smile at Uncle Roy’s magic tricks and laugh at the same jokes Aunt Sally repeats every year. A word of warning: Your hormones make your passion and confidence overflow this week, so you may feel it’s the right time to admit something your family feels is a tad controversial–for instance, that you’re gay or that you love karaoke. Coming out as a karaoke lover is hard on everyone at first. So remember to give your family time to adjust. And try to spring it after dessert. There’s nothing worse than storming out before pie.
If you’re hosting… Peaking estrogen gives you the energy and stamina you need to cook and serve all day. You’ll also have energy left over to clean up. But why let on when you can recruit someone else to do it?
Rising progesterone puts a mellower spin on your day: This sedating hormone has you relaxed, perhaps a tad tired, and too calm to be ruffled by even the most passive-aggressive of relatives. That is, unless you go hungry. If you wait too long to eat and your stomach is grumbling, progesterone can make you more sensitive to a drop in blood sugar that triggers the hunger crankies, which can turn your mood sour in an instant. Luckily, the fix is easy: Simply eat! Unfortunately for your family, no amount of food is going to make you much chattier. Progesterone is making you quieter than you’ve been in the past two weeks, so you’re giving shorter answers to questions people ask and bringing up fewer conversation topics of your own. If you don’t want the kinfolk to mistake your silence for sullenness, sit next to your chattiest relative. Then simply ask a few starter questions, such as, “How are you?” or “Can you pass the candied yams?”, which will be enough to put him or her on verbal auto-pilot and make you look like the best, most engaged listener in your entire family tree.
If you’re hosting… Since you’ll need to make it all the way through the end of your gathering without giving in to the urge to take nap–lest you give your family the opportunity to sneak off with all your delicious leftovers–steer clear of anything that can make you drowsier than you already feel, such as wine or an extra helping of food, which puts you in a fog by diverting blood flow from your brain to your stomach.
Week 4: Their flaws are out, your claws are out
It’s not that your relatives are any more annoying than usual on these days in your cycle. It’s just that as estrogen descends, it’s almost impossible not to focus on your family’s many, many foibles: Sis makes noises when she eats. Grandma smells funny. Even your dad, who sits quietly eating his dinner, seems to be holding his fork all wrong. Woe to those family members who take a more active approach to annoying you–for instance, pointing out how they’d fix so-called problems in your life if they were you or offering to pair you up on a blind date with their thrice-divorced co-worker who’s thisclose to getting that chronic halitosis problem under control. Descending hormones aren’t gonna like that either. Other than that, you’re feeling quiet, introspective and may be found circling the punch bowl for solace. And not the mocktail one, either.
If you’re hosting… Be prepared to drop a dish, burn the biscuits or have another type of hosting mishap. Plunging estrogen is making you a bit less coordinated and a tad more absent-minded, which ups the chances of small blunders. Suffice it to say, it may be better to ask someone else to pass the priceless heirloom gravy boat.