Moms, we know that you know this well. From bloating, headaches, and sore breasts to appetite changes, insomnia, and irritability, there are just so many things to think about when you’re a person who menstruates. And it’s not just during the red days. Even before the storm hits, there’s something called premenstrual syndrome (PMS) that just has to afflict us first before it all flows out. These are physical and emotional symptoms that start a week or so before your period. Take note of the emotional aspect—we’ll get more in-depth about that below.
If you’ve ever experienced a sudden and unexplainable change in mood, it might be caused by your PMS. This could look like waking up with a mindset that’s ready to take on the day and then getting angry for no reason at all an hour or two later. Maybe you wake up crying and anxious, and then you find yourself back in a more stable emotional state.
The roller coaster of emotions can get a little wild and out of control. But why does it even happen in the first place and What can we do about it?
Why Do We Get So Emotional?
Researchers have yet to find out exactly what the cause of PMS is. However, it’s thought to be connected to hormonal fluctuations that happen during the second part of the menstrual cycle. At the halfway point of your cycle, ovulation occurs. This is when your body produces an egg, causing estrogen and progesterone levels to decline. Physical and emotional symptoms might result from this change.
Do you know what else is influenced by the change in your estrogen and progesterone levels? Your serotonin. It’s that chemical, or neurotransmitter, that helps you regulate your mood, sleep cycle, and appetite. When your serotonin levels are low, you’re more likely to have feelings of irritability and sadness. You’ll also have difficulty sleeping and unexpected food cravings. If this sounds familiar, it just means you’re experiencing PMS symptoms.
What Can We Do About Managing PMS Symptoms?
Make Tracking A Habit
Aside from knowing when to stock up on your tampons and pads or getting your period-proof underwear and menstrual cups ready, we cannot emphasize how important it is to track your menstrual cycle and emotions throughout your various stages. Doing this will help confirm the link between your mood swings and your cycle. Just knowing that there’s a reason for your roller coaster of emotions might help put things in perspective and provide some validation. If you want to discuss your symptoms with your doctor, keeping a comprehensive journal of your previous few cycles will come in handy.
Make Tiny But Significant Lifestyle Changes
Take a long, hard look at your lifestyle and if it is a tad too destructive rather than helpful, then make tiny tweaks here and there. Just keep doing them again and again until they turn into life-changing habits that come naturally to you. You can think of this as part of your self-care routine.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help improve your mood, elevate your spirits, and even alleviate depression. Endorphins, those feel-good brain chemicals your body generates during exercise, may help reverse some of the hormone shifts that might trigger severe PMS. Moving also helps with cramps and bloating, so go out there and walk, jog, bike, or swim!
- Eat small, frequent meals. Yes, even what we eat can affect how we feel. Your PMS symptoms may be alleviated by eating smaller portions throughout the day instead of opting for two or three large meals. Large meals, especially those high in carbs, can cause blood sugar changes that can aggravate your PMS. To keep your blood sugar levels stable, eat six small meals a day instead.
- Don’t ever forget to rest. Not only do you deserve to relax, but your body also needs to rest, mama! Sleeping for at least five hours a day is always beneficial to your body’s metabolism. It can even help with your PMS, as it can go a long way toward reducing the symptoms.
- Avoid stress as much as possible. It doesn’t look good on you, and it’ll only worsen your PMS symptoms—stress is one thing you shouldn’t let into your life. Meditation, deep breathing, and yoga are all good ways to relax. For those with significant mood swings and debilitating emotional changes, individual or group counseling has also been proven to be an effective PMS treatment.
If none of the above is working for you, there’s no need to fear. Seek the guidance of your doctor to help determine if medication might help and to come up with the proper dosage plan. They may recommend that you only take an antidepressant for the two weeks leading up to the onset of your symptoms. In certain circumstances, they may advise otherwise. When you start to notice mood swings before your period, it’s your gynecologist who should be the first person you call for help. Now, this is very important: your doctor should be someone you trust or someone who takes your symptoms seriously. If they ever refuse to listen to you, it’s time to find another doctor.
It’s Going To Be Okay
Moms, one thing you should know about this monthly uphill battle is that everyone who menstruates has experienced it at some point in their life. So believe us when we say, you are not alone in this.
Following the simple tips and tricks above might just help you find the balance that your body needs to manage your mood swings. The most important thing to remember here is that it’s going to be all right. We’ll get through this together.
By Myrtle Bautista