Do you suffer from Premenstrual Syndrome? PMS is a common complaint for many, and in today’s blog post I’m covering 8 tips for PMS relief.
The topic of menstruation or Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) can often be brushed off or not thought too much about when it comes to how or why we’re feeling a certain way throughout the month. But the fluctuations in our hormones throughout our cycle can have a big impact on our mental (and physical) health. Things like anxiety, depression, pain, lethargy or bloating are all uncomfortable problems that those who menstruate sometimes face.
I can personally relate, and it’s what prompted me to talk about this today!
From time to time I struggle with a bad bout of PMS (specifically PMS-D, more on that below) that likes to pop up right before my period for about 3-4 days. Then I get my period and I feel totally myself again. It doesn’t happen every month, but when it does, it’s really not fun. PMS can have a big impact on how well you function through the day.
Watch my video below or keep reading to learn more about PMS, the different types, and 8 ways to find relief.
There are 4 types of PMS. Let’s chat about ’em!
The 4 Types of PMS
- PMS-A (Anxiety): This type of PMS involves feelings of anxiety, tension, irritability/anger, mood swings, insomnia, sensitive to criticism/rejection, feeling overwhelmed
- PMS-D (Depression): This involves low mood, depression, crying spells, lethargy, fatigue or a withdrawal/disinterest in usual activities. This is believed to be caused by low serotonin levels.
- PMS-H (Hydration): This type of PMS involves water retention and can include breast tenderness, swelling in various body parts, and bloating.
- PMS-C (Cravings): Cravings for sweets, carbs, chocolate, an increased appetite, and other symptoms like headaches and fatigue fall into the category of PMS-C.
What Causes PMS?
There are many possible factors that influence the development or severity of PMS, but it’s likely linked to hormonal fluctuations that happen during the second half of the menstrual cycle, known as the luteal phase.
After ovulation estrogen and progesterone levels to drop. A shift in these hormones can lead to both physical and emotional symptoms. These changes can influence serotonin levels which regulate your mood, sleep, and appetite. Low levels of serotonin are what can lead to sadness and irritability. Mood swings are one of the most common PMS symptoms.
With all that being said, there are some things that I find helpful for easing my PMS symptoms.
8 Tips for PMS Relief
1. Track Your Cycle
Tracking your menstrual cycle is a great way to help you better understand where your body is at (what day in your cycle you are) and can help put things into perspective if you’re feeling down or out of sorts. I track my menstrual cycle using the app Clue.
2. Managing Stress + Get Support
PMS can be worsened when under stress, and I can definitely attest to this. To help reduce PMS related to stress, I find it very helpful to talk about my feelings openly with my partner (or anyone else I feel comfortable talking to) and I don’t hold my emotions in. Support is so important.
3. Physical activity
As we’ve discussed, PMS symptoms can include irritability and even moments of anger or rage. This is where physical activity can come in handy. Moving your body is a fantastic way to not only let off some steam or pent up energy, but to also help raise feel-good hormones like endorphins.
4. Eat Enough + Balance Blood Sugar
I can’t say this boldly enough… but eat, and eat ENOUGH. Going too long between meals can create blood sugar imbalances and when blood sugar is out of whack, mood and hormones will take a hit. Make sure you get enough whole food sources of fat, fibre, protein, complex carbs to keep you full and balanced through the day, but even just in general, make sure that you are eating at least every few hours.
Speaking of nutrition, lets talk about a few specific nutrients to keep in mind.
Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth, and for heart, muscle, and nerve function. Without sufficient calcium, we can not only see issues with bones, but also blood clotting, the transmission of nerve impulses, and the regulation of the heart’s rhythm.
Research has linked calcium and vitamin D supplements (or the use of a diet rich in these two substances) to a reduction in PMS symptoms. Pretty cool stuff!
To help you get more food sources of calcium in your diet, consider:
- collard greens, spinach, turnip greens, and kale
- almonds (dry roasted)
- tahini/sesame seed butter
- tempeh (fermented soybeans)
- navy beans
- cheese and yogurt
Magnesium is a useful mineral when it comes to things like cramps, muscle tension, and even stress, as it has muscle relaxing properties. Natural calm is a great brand that comes in powder form and can easily be mixed with water and sipped.
Even better, magnesium coupled with vitamin B6 has shown to also be helpful for PMS.
7. Limit Alcohol & Caffeine
Alcohol and caffeine are two big culprits when it comes to affecting our mood. Alcohol is a depressant and caffeine is a nervous system stimulant. If we’re overdoing it wither either of these things, we may experience greater feelings of anxiety or depression if we are prone to those.
I’m not suggesting that you need to cut these out of your diet completely — you know your body best! If you’d like to however, you may find it helpful to track your alcohol or caffeine intake over the span of a few months to see if these two items have any impact on your PMS symptoms.
8. Rest & Self-Compassion
The luteal phase of your menstrual cycle is a good time to rest more, if needed, and to go easy on yourself if you’re not feeling “super productive”. Many women find that they are a little more tired during this phase and it’s important that we honour our needs by not over-doing things. Slow down if you need to and know that it’s okay to rest if that’s what would be most helpful for you. Self-compassion goes a long way here in being kind toward ourselves and our needs.