Cramps. Blemishes. Fatigue. This isn’t anyone’s list of favorite things, but most of us experience some or all of these symptoms once every few weeks. Awesome. The good news? There’s some natural ways to treat PMS so you can feel less…well, horrible, around your period.
“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” – Elle Woods, Legally Blonde
When you exercise, you encourage the production of endorphins in your brain. Heard of them? They are neurotransmitters (a type of good brain chemical) that can boost your energy and general happiness. Any girl battling the sleepiness and mood swings associated with periods can use a few extra! Physical fitness is also tied to reduced discomfort from cramping. Bring it ON.
And exercise won’t just help while you’re pms-ing or in full flow. If you’re sweating it out all month long (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends 30 minutes per day as often as possible), you can actually help reduce the intensity of symptoms before they start. So find your favorite workout tank top and hop to it.
Eat the good stuff.
A healthy diet can help keep you physically fit, which you read above. But eating meals high in protein and nutrients has its own set of PMS-fighting powers. Lean proteins, vegetables, whole grains, and fruit can help keep your energy and mood steady. Talk to your doctor about the best nutrition plan for you. Sometimes, we all want to be that girl in the movies, wearing our favorite period sweatpants and eating ice cream out of the carton. The truth is that foods high in sugar, bad fats, processed additives, and caffeine, can actually make symptoms worse, not better.
Feeling bloated? The Mayo Clinic recommends eating smaller meals and skipping the salt to reduce that dreaded puffy feeling. Drinking enough water, though it may not seem like it at first, can also help.
Finally, not that we have to say this because you are probably underage (ahem), but alcohol can cause cell inflammation and have depressive effects. This is tied to bloating and down moods. So, you might want to reconsider having that beer or Jell-O shot.
Take it easy.
Stress can strengthen physical and emotional symptoms. Not only can muscle tightness lead to more aches and pains, it can increase feelings of anxiety and depression sometimes associated with that time of the month. Yoga’s slow flow and deep breaths are a great way to chill out. Meditation and progressive muscle relaxation are can also helpful. And sometimes, just a good old-fashioned moment to yourself can do the trick.
Lastly, if it’s really bad, there’s no shame in talking to your doc.
For some people, diet, exercise, and relaxation are not enough to fight the intense effects of PMS. Deep, darkened moods around menstruation can be associated with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) and may be treatable with medication. If you are struggling more than you think is normal, talk to your doctor. They may have additional lifestyle suggestions for you, and they can also recommend medication for severe cases.
Reviewed by Dr. Amy Herold