If you Google “how to handle PMS”, a lovely box appears at the top of your screen with a useful list of topics on how to “treat” mood swings. According to most of the links associated with the topic, a girl should simply exercise, avoid caffeine and sweets, eat small meals, and try to manage or reduce stress.
Thanks Google. Helpful.
The problem is that PMS (or Premenstrual Syndrome) generally makes you want to curl up in a corner under blankets instead of venturing outside to use an exercise bike, makes you crave sugar and salt to such an extent that you want to eat a whole bowl of mac and cheese by yourself; and makes you stress about stupid things that don’t matter. Obviously, if women avoided all of these things life would be easier, but the problem is that PMS makes us feel like we can’t!
My PMS is terrible. It lasts almost a full week leading up to my time of the month, and during that week, I’m a mess. I never know if I’m going to be happy, sad, frustrated, or angry. It takes me 30 minutes to decide what to wear in the morning because nothing looks good on me anymore (it doesn’t matter if I wore it the week before and received compliments).
There is no “cure” or “treatment”, despite what some magazines will tell you. There are, however, some things you can do to try to alleviate the mood swings a little bit. Here are a few:
The first is all about acceptance — do what you need to do to feel better. If you want to eat chocolate and lie in bed while watching a rom-com, do it! And don’t feel guilty! It’s important to give yourself time to heal and relax. Take a day for yourself and do the things you’ve wanted to do over the last few weeks. Avoid the people in your life who are confrontational. However, if you are feeling especially down, make sure there is someone around you can talk to. Make sure the friend or family member you choose is non-judgemental and can handle the silly freak outs.
Don’t forget to take your supplements! You may be losing some of your body’s natural magnesium, as well as vitamins B and E. Calcium supplements have been said to help alleviate some of the symptoms of PMS like bloating.
In terms of physical activity — yes, it’s true that exercise can relieve stress, anxiety, and boost endorphins, which can improve your mood. But, let’s face it. If I leave the house during days I’m experiencing PMS, that’s a miracle.
Instead, focus on stretching at home. Get a yoga mat and look up a few simple workouts on Youtube. Do some meditation and soft movements. This will help alleviate those pent-up emotions and relax both your mind and body. Go for a nice walk outside if you are able. Nature can have a calming effect and the walk will give you time to come to terms with the emotions you are dealing with. If you feel like doing a bit more, but still would rather avoid the gym, try a Jillian Michaels yoga video (I promise you it is unlike any meditative yoga you’ve done before).
Get creative and make a plan. This is not something recommended by doctors, but it does work for me. Instead of focusing on all of the supposedly terrible decisions I’ve made, I try to think of new good decisions I will make the following week. For example, I will go get some healthy food from the store so that when I’m feeling more up to it, I have the ingredients to do some baking. The whole process of planning important decisions is calming and relaxing — and it makes you feel like something positive is coming from that pesky PMS.
What’s important is to realize that being slightly crazy for a few days of the month is simple biology. It’s normal. So, don’t sweat it. Do what you need to do to get through this tough and uncomfortable time, and then move on! And also don’t listen to Google — it doesn’t understand women like you do.
Do you have any suggestions or recommendations to alleviate some of the symptoms of PMS? Leave a note in the comments below!