And if you add mood swings, cravings, diarrhea and company to the mix, the week can seem like an eternity, especially when you don’t recognize the woman in the mirror.
Did you know that it’s possible to get through PMS with a smile on your face?
Widely recognized since the dawn of time, PMS is still poorly explained. We don’t know exactly why women tend to get bowled over by a monthly wave of depression. Sure, we know that hormones are off the scales and that this can lead to all kinds of reactions that vary wildly from one woman to the next. And we also know that there’s a link between mood and the neurotransmitter serotonin. When serotonin levels drop, our zest for life vanishes. But watch out: if you get depressed and it doesn’t go away once you have your period, you’re not experiencing PMS, which is tied to your menstrual cycle.
Some women get a case of the blues, while others experience extreme anxiety or even self-hatred. The reasons behind the varying symptoms and their equally variable intensities aren’t known, but what we do know is how to deal with them very effectively. The solution: adopt a healthy lifestyle that fosters wellbeing and enjoyment of life.
What to eat
- Beware of salt! By limiting your salt intake, you’ll avoid bloating and water retention and the physical and emotional symptoms of PMS will be less intense. The recommended daily intake of sodium for women 14 to 50 is 1,500 mg. Between 60% and 80% of Canadian women consume more sodium than the Tolerable Upper Intake Level, which is 2,300 mg per day. The problem isn’t usually your salt shaker, but rather, the processed foods you eat, like soups and broths, bread, sauces, condiments, frozen meals and so on.
- Sugar and caffeine should also be avoided, as they can exacerbate PMS symptoms. To reduce your coffee consumption gradually, make a cup with half coffee substitute and half your regular coffee.
- So-called “diet” drinks, aspartame and MSG (monosodium glutamate) are also best avoided, as they contain large quantities of excitotoxins, substances that affect the neurotransmitters and make symptoms worse.
- Eat healthy and do it regularly. Fluctuations in blood glucose (sugar levels) can lead to mood swings, so don’t wait until you’re famished to have a snack. What’s more, by eating well, you’ll feel better! It really is that simple.
But there’s more to it than eating
Get moving! To relieve melancholy and depressive moods, there’s nothing like a breath of fresh air. Get moving, go for a walk in the great outdoors, hop on your bike or go for a run. In fact, any sport will do the trick, but doing it outside will do wonders! And don’t start thinking you have to run a marathon. Even 20 minutes of moderate exercise a day will have you feeling better.
Stress management: Given that stress and anxiety make the blues even bluer, take the time to deal with them. Stress is something you need to manage. Get on the right track by eating better and getting active. Take time to relax and don’t feel guilty about it! To help you fight the effects of stress, a complex made up of rhodiola, an adaptogen plant, and flowering oat, a nerve tonic, could be just what you need.
Hormonal balance: For aggressive cases of PMS, there’s nothing like Vitex. This plant helps re‑establish a normal hormonal balance, which will eliminate symptoms caused by chaos in the hormone department.
If your depressive moods are too much to bear, you can try St. John’s wort, a plant recommended for treating mild to moderate depression. It’s fast acting, but because it increases the skin’s sensitivity to the sun, don’t forget to put on sunscreen before you go out for a walk.
Most of us live with some form of PMS. For those whose bodies are particularly reactive, PMS can be a nightmare. While you can’t do anything about how your body reacts, you can at least try to control what you can: food, physical activity and stress. Of course, controlling yourself is probably the last thing you want to do when you’ve got a full-blown case of PMS and all you want is junk food.
But if you want to shake that rotten mood…