9 ways to deal with PMS
I can always tell when my period is about to hit without looking at my app or the calendar. So can my husband.
Premenstrual Syndrome is something most women (and their partners, friends, parents and colleagues) are familiar with. It's the week or two before your period arrives when the slightest thing will set you off, perhaps into a fit of rage or a crumpled ball of tears.
And PMS is incredibly common. I bet if you surveyed your friends only 1 or 2 wouldn’t suffer from some form of PMS.
Leading into the menstrual phase of our cycle, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and serotonin all reach their lowest levels.
PMS symptoms can vary from woman to woman. Here are some common symptoms:
- breast tenderness
- Brain fog
- Irritability and anxiety
- Appetite change
- Sleeping issues
So what causes PMS?
Throughout our cycle, our bodies go through many hormonal changes. As estrogen and progesterone change in the body leading up to your period, they can be out of balance. So while PMS is really common, you can actually balance your hormones and get through your period without it.
What causes the hormonal imbalance?
There can be many reasons for a hormonal imbalance that throws off your system.
- Environmental toxins - for example ones that mimic estrogen
- Poor detoxification of the liver
We’ll go into each other these in more detail in other articles, but for now, how can you manage your PMS to alleviate the symptoms?
How to deal with PMS
- Acknowledge that it is happening to you, it is not who you are
I remember a few years ago when I was living with some girlfriends, I woke up feeling really flat like a cloud of depression had set over me. One of my girlfriends gave me a big hug and I realised something that changed everything; my boobs hurt like hell!
Hello! I wasn’t clinically depressed at all! It was just my hormones wreaking havoc for a day! After this realisation I felt like I could cope better with the next few days. I was still flat as hell and spent the day in bed watching Gossip Girl season 3, but I was in a better headspace to just ride out the wave of emotions washing over me.
- Self-care is a necessity
Taking time for yourself is so important, but even more so when you’re feeling PMSy. I get it can be hard, between work deadlines, kid’s dinners or social commitments, but even just grabbing five minutes to do a breath meditation can help recentre you.
This is one of the reasons I include tea in my packs. I want you to take a few minutes with a cup of tea to chill and treat yourself!
Seriously, if you get PMS or cramps, get on this stuff! Magnesium has been proven to reduce symptoms. You can get a supplement but make sure you speak with someone who knows what they're talking about as not all supplements are created equal.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for women. They can help relieve PMS symptoms, like managing mood and sleep by improving brain cell function. Omega-3 helps the brain produce more serotonin (which as discussed above is lower in your premenstrual week).
They also help reduce pain by curbing the production of pain-causing chemicals like prostaglandins.
- Eat healthy
You probably crave chocolate and carbs before and during your period. But eating foods low in sugar rather than high in carbohydrates helps reduce PMS. Try to add magnesium-rich foods to your diet, like cacao, dark leafy greens or nuts.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine can increase anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia, symptoms you’re trying to prevent. While alcohol is a depressant, so best to keep away from these if these are areas you’re trying to manage.
Right before and during, exercise is the last thing I feel like doing. Most of the time it's a light walk or yin yoga, but if you can muster the energy, exercise can be a good mood booster. The endorphins from exercise help to improve symptoms like depression and anxiety.
- Avoid stressful people and situations
Often easier said than done, right? But if you're super sensitive around this time you don’t need anything else adding to your stress levels. If you can’t avoid these situations, revisit step two and rebalance after.
- Get some acupuncture.
Acupuncture is proven to reduce symptoms of PMS, so it might well be worth the try.
Personally, I’m a big fan of acupuncture for holistic health. I first started getting acupuncture a few years ago to treat my painful periods, but I’ve found it’s helped in many other areas of my life, most notably, stress.
When to see a healthcare professional
PMS can last from day 14 (typically ovulation) till the seventh day after your period arrives. Mood swings can last about fourteen days and reduce after your period starts.
If PMS is really ruling your life and you haven’t felt on top of it, speak to your doctor or naturopath. It could be a simple hormonal imbalance that needs a little tweak.
Nothing in this article should be taken as medical advice. Please speak to your healthcare professional if your symptoms concern you.