It’s not unfamiliar for us women of “childbearing” age, as they call it, to trickle into a monthly spell of irritably, sadness and for some of us binge eating. These un-welcomed actions brought forth by our always untimely menstruation can turn some of the sweetest girls into merciless lunatics. “You’re crazy,” they say, “it’s a mind thing,” they say. I’m sure we’d all beg to differ, because I’ve tried to put this thing so far out of mind and each month she returns repugnant and un-invited. It’s not so much the menstrual part that is so loathsome, it’s the PRE-menstrual part that blows. Not to worry though Girlfriends, we have some foolproof ways to tame PMS!
Some facts about PMS:
Our emotional changes are believed to be connected with our hormonal changes during our menstrual cycle. The hormone estrogen specifically has peaks and valleys that mimic that of our emotional highs and lows and menstrual symptoms. Dr. Carol Livoti, gynecologist and fellow of the American College of Obstetricians, explains, “estrogen levels drop like a rock and begin rising slowly before dropping again just before menstruation starts.”
“Reduced levels of estrogen during the luteal phase of the cycle could possibly cause a drop in serotonin, although more research needs to be done to confirm this link,” says Livoti. Research shows that lower serotonin levels are a direct result of carb cravings, depression and irritability, which of course are all PMS symptoms.
5 Ways to Tame PMS
Introducing your new premenstrual superstars : vitamin E and essential fatty acids, per a study in Reproductive Health. Women who swallowed the two every day for six months saw major PMS improvements, possibly because both nutrients interact with prostaglandin receptors (prostaglandins are the hormones believed to cause fierce cramps). A daily multivitamin should supply you with the 15 milligrams of E you need, and you can pop a daily fish-oil capsule to get your fatty acids. (Also, a calcium-rich diet—one full of leafy greens, almonds, and yogurt—may help prevent many PMS symptoms. Aim for about 1,300 milligrams of calcium a day.) (Womens Health)
Sweating and Stretching
Stop laughing. Mild forms of exercise can alleviate several gnarly PMS symptoms, says Gabrielle Francis, a naturopathic doctor, chiropractor, and acupuncturist in New York City. Working out not only releases pain-busting endorphins but also triggers dopamine (your natural source of pleasure and satisfaction) and serotonin (a depression and anxiety fighter). And doing hip and back stretches can increase blood flow to contracted uterine, abdominal, and lower-back muscles, easing the tension that leads to cramps. Francis recommends practicing daily yoga with moves such as child’s pose or happy baby during the week before your period. (Womens Health)
Drink chamomile tea.
Premenstrually, chamomile tea may be particularly helpful because it contains properties that relieve muscle spasms, and may therefore help reduce the severity of menstrual cramps. (And who would turn down a little relief?). In addition, chamomile seems to reduce tension that may lead to anxiety and irritability, helping combat the mood changes experienced during PMS. Chamomile tea is naturally caffeine-free, so it’s an ideal choice to replace some of your favorite caffeinated beverages when your period is approaching. (Joy Bauer)
Avoid salt and salty foods.
PMS causes bloating and water retention — and so does salt. Ergo, salt can make those problems of PMS worse. It’s best to avoid the saltiest offenders like canned soups and vegetables, deli and processed meats, salty condiments (like soy sauce and bottled salad dressings),and snacks like chips, crackers and pretzels — and of course you’ll want to skip the salt shaker at meal time. Instead opt for foods rich in calcium (reduced–fat dairy products, fortified soy milk, broccoli, tofu, and almonds) which can help beat bloat during this time of the month. (Joy Bauer)
Cultivate calmness and serenity.
Practice letting go of feelings (they come and go anyway), by consciously taking deep, slow breaths rather than reacting. Though we know it’s not easy, give it a try. Some women count to ten; ask themselves whether this situation will matter to them in a month; or try to imagine themselves in a relaxed setting. These strategies won’t succeed in keeping you on an even keel every time, or all the time: you’ll still have occasions where you may react, but with practice you’ll notice that you get better at maintaining your equanimity. Many women use prayer or meditation to create a sense of deeper meaning and awareness in their life, and feel that this helps them to put smaller annoyances and troubles in their proper perspective. (PMS Comfort)
Did you know?
If you experience PMS one or two weeks before your period in the form of depression you may be suffering from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). “With PMDD, major depression and extreme irritation are the foremost symptoms,” says Livoti. “PMS is milder and usually involves physical menstrual symptoms, as well as emotional ones.” For a list of symptoms click here.
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