It was pretty much another usual day at work. On my way home, I stopped by the bakery to have a slice of blueberry pie, my favourite pastry and the only kind of pie I ever ate. I struggled a bit while putting my bike on the main stand and soon noticed that my white ballerinas were dirty due to the sand on the side of the road. A sudden wave of anger hit me and I yelled out some juicy profanities. I went home with a grumpy face, yelled at my mom for no reason, and then shut my door and listened to the Go-Go’s all night. At midnight, I crept out to fix myself a snack. While spreading some mayonnaise over my bread, I clumsily dropped the butter knife and it made a loud CLANG! as it hit the ground. I was fuming and angrily threw the slice of bread and the knife into the kitchen sink and walked back to my room with a packet of potato chips.
That was my first ever encounter with PMS and it would take me a few months to learn that I was acting and reacting in an irate manner all because of it. I am not alone in this struggle. 85% of menstruating women in the world suffer from Premenstrual Syndrome. This condition can cause you to go from normal girl next door to either an angry, screaming bitch or a mellow crybaby. It can make you wild and uncontrollable by day and, nervous and depressed by night. That’s right, you could be acting out all the characters in Girl Interrupted.
According to my doctor, PMS starts in the last phase of the menstrual cycle. That means, it’s usually a week or two before your periods begin. Ever since my first encounter, I’ve often found myself trying hard not to burst into an array of emotions, but most of the time, I can’t help it. All of us have a hate-hate relationship with PMS and in this post, I will list out some of the things that have helped me overcome those erratic mood swings.
Release The Endorphins
A zumba instructor I used to go to referred to endorphins as “the feel-good chemical in our bodies”. Endorphins possess that superpower of turning bad days into good ones. With a good amount of exercise – be it jogging, cycling, Pilates, aerobics or even zumba – your body will secrete enough endorphins to keep you feeling upbeat. So, whenever you feel down and out, put on your earphones, create an upbeat playlist on your phone and go out for a run. You’ll surely feel better.
Unwind and Relax
Almost all medical professionals agree that taking a spa day every month is vital. My friend – who was a spa freak – used to throw around the word “rejuvenating” whenever she spoke about spas and massages. One time, I decided to try it out with her. It was rejuvenating indeed. I felt like a different person when I came out of the spa. My spirits were high and my lips carried a wide smile. But, spas aren’t the only option. You can also unwind and relax at home. A few years ago, thanks to a stupid song, my 3-year old niece started using the word “chillax” a lot. She would say it at least a hundred times a day. But, girl, you really should chillax. Put that phone on vibrate, close your eyes and lean back into your chair or bed. Take some deep breaths and try to connect with your inner self.
Eat Only The Good Stuff
Whenever I hear someone say “you are what you eat,” I just want to punch that person in the face. So, no, I’m not going to say that to you. Most of us eat different kinds of food based on the mood we are in. If I’m feeling joyous or upbeat, I would try something exotic like Thai or Japanese. If I’m feeling blessed, I go with North Indian food. But, whenever I’m down, I love that cheese! Cheese on my pizza, cheese on my burger, cheese on nachos and even on my blueberry pie! I was miserable, alright. It took me a while to learn that nutritious, high-fiber food is the secret all along. If you’ve lived with a diabetic person, you’ll know that a drop in blood sugar can always make them moody. This problem also affects us. If you’re blood sugar is low, you will often feel sad and can easily fall prey to PMS. So, try to stop your regular diet and chew on some fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid salty food as it is known to cause bloating during periods. Along with fruits and vegetables, eat a bowl of muesli with low-fat milk, cooked quinoa and a simple salad. Stock up on protein bars and yoghurt. They will keep you full in between meals.
Cut Down Cravings
It’s midnight. You’re unable to sleep. In the corner of your mind, you remember that there’s a packet of Oreos in the kitchen. Before you can finish the thought, you’ve already run out to the kitchen and grabbed the pack of biscuits. Cravings are common. But, as mentioned earlier, you should always stick to a well-balanced and nutritious meal. So, as much as you can, avoid processed foods and sugary foods. They can greatly worsen your condition. Instead of Oreos, make a smoothie. Simply add a cup of yoghurt, some fruits and berries, and give it a good blend. This will not only fill you up, but also keep your cravings down.
Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol and Tobacco
Ever since I was 16, I drank at least 8-9 cups of coffee everyday. Soon, I added smooth Russian vodka and menthol cigarettes to this equation. I called it the “trifecta of coolness”. So, when my doctor told me that all three of them could worsen my PMS, I found it really hard to give up on them during that brief period of time. To me, giving up coffee, even for a day, was like going to the gallows. But, that’s what I began doing, and I could soon see the results. Most medical professionals advise that it’s better to avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco right around PMS and also during periods to make it easier for you.
Stay 100 Feet Away From Stress
See a pressure cooker situation right in front of your eyes? Get the hell away from there! Be it work or home or even on the streets, if you see something happening that can cause you a great deal of stress, make sure to turn around and walk away. See an ex-boyfriend or an old flame? Walk or run in the opposite direction. These situations can induce a lot of anxiety and can leave you depressed and emotional.
Talk To A Therapist
I first went to a therapist when I was 18. It was because my BFF had left to the United States and I was feeling lonely and detached. A few years later, during one of our sessions, my therapist noticed that I was behaving a bit odd. I told her that I may have PMS and she smiled. She came over to my side and held my hand as she told me how I was feeling. She nailed it! My therapist knew what was going on in my mind and I felt so relieved that I could share my woe and anger with her. If you are not already seeing a therapist, now might be the best time to start seeing one. Think of it as a spa for your mind and your heart. Therapy has been immensely helpful to me and I’m sure that it will be to you too.
Seek Support From Your Loved Ones
This is often the toughest thing to do. I found it hard to tell my strictly orthodox mother that I was suffering from PMS and that during some days, I needed her support and understanding. To be honest, she never got with the program and would often tell me to visit the doctor and take some medication. But, I was against medication – be it cold, flu or PMS. To me, medication was the last resort and I would often try old school ways to cure myself. Call up your best friends or even your boyfriend. Let them know how you’re feeling and ask them to take you out for a drive or even to a movie or just the beach. It can do you a lot of good.
Get Plenty Of Sleep
One thing I wasn’t getting whenever I had PMS was sleep. I would stay up all night trying hard to sleep. I would then get up and watch a video on YouTube. After a couple of yawns, I would jump back to bed, but for the next hour, I would just be tossing and turning. Sleep is one of the victims of PMS. So, try really hard to get some sleep, because that’s how you will ultimately get better. Stick to your schedule and if needed, pop in a sleeping pill (have a doctor prescribe a mild dosage). After my first pregnancy, I stopped using sleeping pills. Now, I make sure that my bedroom is quite cold so that I can jump in and snuggle my favourite bed sheets. If you’re still having trouble sleeping, here’s another idea – masturbation. Slide those fingers below and go to work. Sounds dirty but I’ve heard from many other women that masturbating right before going to sleep actually has a lot of benefits. An occupied and busy mind is often the reason why we are never able to sleep easily. Masturbation helps release endorphins and relaxes your brain, which in turn, relaxes your mind. So, give it a try and thank me later.