This is something I research so often that I decided to just go ahead and write an article about it already. If you’re like me (and in this case I certainly hope that you’re not) you suffer from some pretty horrendous PMS mood swings. Like we’re talkin’ “who put my brain in a blender, told it Santa isn't real and then broke up with it all in one go?!” Ring a bell? Yes? No? If not then you may not need to read this article, but I encourage you to do some learning anyways, so as to better understand the rest of us poor, miserable souls.
For me, these mood swings roll around about ten days before my period starts and don’t really leave until midway through. So, you know, that’s like half the month swirling in a pool of seemingly unavoidable anxiety and depression.
Or is it avoidable? My family doctor has long attempted to get me on anti-depressants to combat this, which I have militantly refused so many times that she must be sick of my dumb, stubborn face by now.
In lieu of the anti- depressant route, I have, over the last year or so, been toying around with natural options for these nasty mood swings. I’ve taken part in a bit of an investigative process of elimination to see what helps and what doesn’t. Now I hope that my findings might help you out too.
Here are some things that I have tried:
Removing coffee and alcohol from my life during PMS. This definitely helped to stop anxiety and depression from getting worse but let’s face it, this is totally unrealistic for a lot of young city-dwelling creative types. It’s hard enough to eliminate coffee without also being able to drink my sorrows away in whiskey over its loss. Also, eradicating these things doesn’t get to the root of the problem, but just basically serves to remove irritants. Efficacy: 5/10. Would recommend? If you are a saint, or a strikingly healthy person who makes strikingly healthy choices, than yes.
Exercise: Exercise releases those sweet, sweet brain drugs called endorphins. Endorphins work against any anxiety or depression you are experiencing. Plus, certain exercise can also alleviate pain from cramps, and tire you out. The trouble, of course, is getting off the couch to exercise when you are swathed in a cloak of pure human misery. But you can do it. You got this. Efficacy: 7/10. Would recommend? 10/10.
Supplements and herbs: You might be rolling your eyes here, but keep reading. Among the ones that I have tried are calcium, vitamin D, chaste berry and primrose oil. Out of these, I would say that calcium helped the most. Studies have in fact shown that women who take 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily during PMS show a 30- 50% reduction in symptoms. Furthermore, science has it that calcium taken in conjunction with magnesium can further alleviate symptoms. I haven't tried this yet but you can bet your bottom dollar I will. Efficacy: 8/10. Would recommend? 10/10.
Meditation: I have been meditating for six months now with Headspace. Meditation is a great way to recenter when you’re feeling blah. Breathing deeply seems to cure almost everything (after all, it is the most *human* thing we can do, isn’t it?) If you can manage to carve out 10 minutes in your crazy day of running around and forgetting to breathe, to breathe, then I would highly recommend this. Efficacy: 6.5/10. Would recommend? 10/10. Especially if you've poo- pooed meditation in the past. Try it, I dare you!
PMS diet: Even though our bodies ironically crave garbage food at this time of month, high sodium and sugar are hugely problematic. Focus your eating around nutrient dense foods (fruit, veggies, whole grains) and stay away from that vat of chocolate ice cream that is calling your name from the freezer. Again, this is a tip for those that can manage it, because who doesn't love drowning in Cheetos when they're feeling awful?! Efficacy: 6/10. Would recommend? 10/10, if you can do it.
Honestly, I think the best approach to tackling beastly PMS symptoms can be two-pronged or three-pronged or seven-pronged or however many prongs suit you. There is no one size fits all solution because we all have different biology. You may love eliminating coffee and alcohol (who ARE you?) and not be so into the supplement idea, and that is A-ok.
The ultimate end goal is to get you feeling better and able to tackle your life more effectively through natural and healthy adjustments to lifestyle. I may seem like a totally sarcastic, sassy so and so, but really I've got your best interests at heart, and uterus.
Give some of these tips a go, and if any work for you, let me know. Also, feel free to leave any other mood swing slaying tips in the comments. Thanks for tuning in, now go tell your PMS what's up!!!