10 tips to better cope with your menstrual cycle every month

  • Getting enough sleep every night is important for good mental health. 
  • Studies have shown that calcium may help ease your PMS symptoms.
  • An overall healthy diet and lifestyle is beneficial.

Most women are likely to experience PMS before menstruation, which can bring about an onslaught of emotional and physical symptoms.

According to statistics, three out of four women experience PMS to some degree. While some experience it mildly, others find it so physically or emotionally debilitating that they are unable to go to work or complete day-to-day activities.

PMS can feel uncontrollable and it can wreak havoc with your mood, your well-being and your relationships.

Here are 10 tips to help you manage and decrease PMS symptoms:

1. Download a period-monitoring app

Knowing when you are due to start your period can be really useful to help you identify when you are experiencing PMS. When your mood is erratic, it is empowering to realise that your emotional state is temporary and that there is a cause beyond your control. Download an app, such as Clue or Flo, which helps you to track your cycle.

2. Make peace with your heightened emotions

Once you have identified that your moodiness can be attributed to PMS, don't fight your emotions or try to change them. Often, when we try to push our emotions away, they intensify. Let yourself be in a vulnerable, tender space and accept it. Know that it will pass soon. Be gentle with yourself.

3. Exercise

Although it might feel anti-intuitive to exercise when experiencing PMS, it is essential to keep moving throughout the month. Exercise is the most effective way to alleviate moodiness, anxiety, stress and lethargy. Unless you are experiencing severe physical PMS symptoms, push yourself to stick to your regular exercise regime. You will always feel good afterwards.

4. Modify your diet

Diet is key to physical and mental well-being. A healthy diet can help to ease PMS symptoms. Consider adopting the following:

  • Avoid salt, caffeine and alcohol, and limit your sugar intake.
  • Drink lots of water to help decrease bloating and to help with digestion.
  • Eat foods that are rich in calcium. Studies have shown that calcium helps to ease PMS.

5. Reduce stress

There are many ways of reducing stress. Find the techniques that work best for you. Yoga, meditation, massage and breathing exercises are effective relaxation techniques. If you enjoy journaling, spend some time reflecting on your feelings –  this might give you a sense of release. Something as simple as going for a walk or listening to music can also be helpful. Sex is also a powerful stress reliever.

READ MORE | The difference between stress and anxiety 

6. Sleep

Getting enough sleep every night is integral to mental health. Our moods and energy levels are affected when we don't get enough sleep. Ensure that you get eight hours of sleep every night, especially when you are experiencing PMS.

7. Spend quality time with the people you are close to

There is nothing like good conversation, laughter, empathy and the feeling of closeness to counteract PMS. Make time for friends, family and your partner and lean on them for emotional support when you need it.

8. See a therapist

If you are experiencing severe PMS, which may be heightened by current events in your life, consider talking to a therapist. Sometimes we need the additional support of a professional to help us get through tough times.

READ MORE | Coping techniques for when you can't get to a therapist

9. Take medication and supplements when necessary

In some cases, pain relievers and diuretics might be needed to help you with the physical symptoms of PMS. Speak to your pharmacist. Women who experience severe depression should consult a psychiatrist and should consider taking relevant medication. Magnesium supplements are also known to help relieve PMS symptoms. Some women choose to go on the pill, which can help reduce PMS symptoms.

10. Stop or reduce smoking

Studies have shown that women who smoke experience more PMS symptoms than women who do not smoke. Try to reduce smoking leading up to your period and if possible, try not to smoke at all during this time.

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