My plans for last weekend were carefully made. Saturday morning I would grab groceries, purchase paint supplies at the hardware store, and return a bad Black Friday purchase. Saturday afternoon I would clean the house in anticipation of my aunt coming over. Saturday evening we were catching dinner, and I had purchased the really good seats for The Nutcracker. Sunday I would do laundry and paint my home office before my new furniture arrives. And among all of that, I would finish my Christmas shopping, make sure my dog, Mischa, got a couple long walks in, and catch up on billable hours for work.
In hindsight, it was a very ambitious — not to mention unrealistic — plan. It’s no wonder that all day Friday I was radiating nervous energy. And it probably shouldn’t be all that surprising that Saturday morning I woke up with one of those really bad migraines.
I’ve suffered from migraines since elementary school. Luckily, modern science has developed pharmaceuticals that mostly keep these monsters at bay — not an option when I was little. But occasionally I’ll get one that doesn’t respond to the medication. The pain is unbearable, and I sometimes end up in the emergency room.
That’s what happened Saturday. Mischa woke me up at 7 a.m. to go out, and the pain was already pretty bad. I took my first round of pills and went back to sleep. When I woke a couple of hours later, it was worse. I started the normal cycle of various medicines to kill it, but they kept failing and didn’t even take the edge off. So instead of enjoying an evening of good food and ballet, my aunt took me to the emergency room where I waited for two hours in agony, finally got an IV, and left late in the evening to pick up McDonald’s and go home to bed.
Oh, you know what they say about the best plans of mice and men.
The stupid thing is that I was right back at it on Sunday. Returning gifts, stressing about covering everyone, and fitting way too much into my day. When my aunt checked on me, and asked whether I knew what triggered that migraine, I answered with “stress of the holidays.” I started to feel that familiar pounding in my temples and realized I was doing it all over again.
Listen, the holidays are a stressful time with all the bustling, doing, and buzziness. We can put a lot of pressure on ourselves (I’m looking at you, ladies). Everything has to smell, taste, look, sound perfect. There’s always one more task, or one more decoration, or one more way to make this time so magical and wonderful. But are we really enjoying any of it?
It turns out we’ve known for quite some time that the pressure of the season hits women differently. We know the things we’re supposed to do: Turn off the internal monologue, keep realistic expectations, and maintain a healthy diet and exercise. Those are a lot easier said than done.
Ladies, I see you. Farm women are pretty tough, as such things go. But we need to check in with ourselves and make sure we’re not just running around keeping everyone else happy. Trust me, it’s not worth ending up in the ER because you’ve accumulated so much stress and expectation.
Take a deep breath. Enjoy the moment. And know that this too shall pass (and it’ll all be fine).
Amanda Zaluckyj blogs under the name The Farmer’s Daughter USA. Her goal is to promote farmers and tackle the misinformation swirling around the U.S. food industry.