Do you often find yourself feeling on edge and easily frustrated in the days leading up to your period? It’s not just that presentation at work that’s making you feel more anxious than normal. Fluctuations in mood, particularly anxiety and irritability, are commonly cited among women before their periods. If you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed and anxious, know that you’re not alone – up to 90 percent of women during their reproductive years will experience some symptoms of PMS, including fluctuations in mood.
While the exact cause of PMS is not entirely understood, it’s likely to be linked to naturally occurring changes in hormones. These changes are normal and necessary to facilitate menstruation, so there’s generally no need to be concerned that PMS symptoms are signaling any abnormalities. However, associated changes in mood can make some women feel out of control and can negatively impact their quality of life. The week before your period can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to feel like an emotional rollercoaster. When PMS irritability and anxiety are at their worst, here are three simple tips to incorporate into your routine and help you cope with mood swings:
1) Practice Mindfulness
When most people hear mindfulness, it conjures images of meditation and yoga. Both are great tools to combat PMS anxiety and physical symptoms such as cramps and back pain. However, practicing mindfulness can be as simple as taking note of those moments of frustration or agitation. Pausing to acknowledge those feelings allows you to redirect and channel your thoughts. This can take many forms: finding a quiet space to be alone, going for a walk or reading a favorite book. It’s important to carve out time for yourself and prioritize activities that promote positivity and self-care.
2) Add Mood-Boosting Foods
Making a few easy, simple changes in diet can be one of the most immediate ways to improve your mood. Anxiety and emotional eating often go hand-in-hand, leading women to reach for a quick sugar- fix to quell a bad mood. Sugar, as well as caffeine and alcohol, can all lead to emotional unsteadiness. Check out our recommendations for the best foods for managing mood swings.
3) Set Goals
Never underestimate the power of a to-do list! When the list of responsibilities feels endless, take a moment to pause and put all your thoughts on paper. It’s easy to let anxious thoughts grow like snowballs rolling down a mountainside. Take a few minutes to jot all those thoughts down, create a list and prioritize your goals. You’ll feel far less overwhelmed and be able to stop anxiety in its tracks. If longer-form writing is more suited to your style, try journaling to help process feelings associated with PMS. Use this time to release negative feelings, but also try to strike a balance by taking note of positive feelings too.
Take Back Control
Hormonal fluctuations every month are a given, but the wave of emotions that comes with PMS doesn’t have to be inescapable. When you take the first step of putting yourself first and practicing self-care, not only will your mood improve, but you’ll feel more in control and empowered to continue incorporating changes into your daily routine. Want to learn more about women’s health and wellness? Check out our blog for resources about exercise, diet and emotional health.