I’ve been noticing over the past few months how my whole experience of life seems to transform in the couple of weeks leading up to my period. Instead of feeling brave, motivated, pro-active and desperate for adventure, PMS turns me into a hedgehog.
Hedgehog?!!?!? Yes, that’s right.
My energy totally disappears and the only thing I want to do is curl up into a ball in the corner somewhere and hibernate for as long as I can possibly get away with. (Which isn’t too long btw when you’re a self-employed parent who is training for a half-marathon and learning Portuguese at the same time!!)
I’m still relatively sweet and a tiiiny bit feisty on the inside. But for those weeks, those spikes are out (not my fault at all!) and you’d better stay clear.
Don’t get me wrong- I won’t snap or hurt you but I’d prefer it if you just got on with your own stuff for a while. It’s not that I don’t love you, because I do, but that’s just how it is…
But don’t worry- give me a few days and I’ll be back to normal, racing around, smiling, cracking jokes and begging to go swimming in the ocean despite the terrible weather outside.
So what’s going on here? Why do we get PMS in the first place and what can we do about it to feel at least human whilst it’s happening?
The reality of PMS
I know I have it pretty easy really when it comes to my period and PMS.
There are some poor women who descend into terrible anxiety and depression right before they’re due on. They gain weight, they can’t help stuffing themselves with sugary foods, they throw plates at their partner, they scream at their kids, their skin breaks out, they have trouble sleeping and they feel like their world is going to end.
Why do we get PMS anyway?
I’m afraid there’s no easy answer for this one. Basically doctors don’t really know why we feel so rubbish when it’s time of the month, but they assume that it’s something to do with the changing hormone levels throughout our menstrual cycle and low levels of serotonin too.
Of course, if you’re already suffering with depression, anxiety or another mood disorder, you’re much more likely to suffer with PMS than someone who doesn’t.
When I was reading through the research, I found it really interesting to see that PMS has also been linked to several lifestyle factors including:
- Low levels of vitamins and minerals (usually from eating a junk-food or processed diet)
- Eating too much salt (which causes you to retain fluids)
- Drinking alcohol and caffeine (which can interfere with your body clock, disrupt your endocrine system and change your mood)
- Chronic stress
- Being overweight or obese (especially if your BMI is over 30)
But let’s make one thing very clear here-whether or not we suffer from PMS isn’t our fault. We haven’t done anything wrong to be feeling like this every month, and despite what popular male wisdom might tell us, we’re not ‘psycho bitches’ once a month.
We’re just girls who just need love, nurturing and a good dose of understanding so we can survive our own dark days. Don’t you agree?
What I do to survive my (admittedly mild ) PMS and you can too
Of course, I’m not just going to list a load of reasons why PMS is rubbish- I’m actually going to send you off armed with a handful of really useful tips that could help YOU cope with your symptoms of PMS too and survive the month relatively unscathed. 😉
So here’s why I do every month to survive my PMS:
I learn when my period is likely to arrive
If you don’t know when your period is coming, how do you know whether it’s PMS you’re suffering with, or just a black mood/hunger/weight gain or whatever?
So make sure you keep track of your menstrual cycle. You can download a ton of apps to track your menstrual cycle (like one of these) but I prefer to keep it nice and simple and use a Google Calendar to make when my period happens, and then count forward three weeks to when the PMS monster will strike.
I do even more yoga
I LOVE yoga so I make sure I fit in at least a short yoga practice every single day. But when my energy levels start running low, I’ll tend to switch a run or a sweaty cardio workout with a longer yoga session, like the fab one below.
Yoga is so brilliant for when you’re due on because it’s calm, inwardly focused, tackles your stress effectively and really irons out your kinks!
I read more
Usually I’ll fill my ‘spare’ time with all the stuff I don’t normally get time to do, like learning Portuguese, studying meteorology (yes, really!) and have a good old clear out.
But when my period approaches, I just don’t have as much energy as before, so I prefer to gather a big pile of cushions, throw them onto the floor and leap on top with a great book loaded on my Kindle. It works miracles!
I get more sleep
No energy = urgent battery recharge needed. So I try to cut short my working hours, turn off the computer well before 11pm and take myself off to bed. This usually helps me feel calmer, recharged and in a better mood the next day. Usually…;)
According to sleep science, the hours between 10pm and 2am are the most important for a healthy endocrine system as this is when many of our hormones are produced and used in the body and it’s much harder to get a restful night’s sleep after this time.
If only my 25 year old self knew that!…
I listen to my body
In the week before my period, I also make sure I listen to what my body needs and wants, and do my best to deliver ( but within reason, there’ll be no family-boxes of Mulata cookies getting eaten anytime soon in this house!!!)
If it wants to rest, I let it rest.
If it wants to turn down the pace on my run then that’s completely fine.
If it wants to eat an entire carton of cherry tomatoes, or binge on watermelon or eat handfuls of almonds at one sitting then brilliant- be my guest.
If it wants to get outside and walk 10km just to get some fresh air, then awesome.
Because I know that my body is sending these messages as a cry for help and, for the sake of my health and happiness, I need to listen.
The message here is pretty simple, I think. We need to stop fighting against our PMS and embrace it fully.
We need to listen to our bodies, we need to show ourselves some love and we need to slow right down. Because when we do, our stress levels, our anxiety, our low mood, our irritability, our bloating, our cravings and all the rest of our symptoms will ease and we will feel much better the whole month through.
So how about you? How does PMS affect your life? Do you have any brilliant tips you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below!