It’s that time of month again. It comes like clockwork but always seems to catch you off guard and knock you off your feet. I am talking about the week or so before your period starts. You feel moody, grumpy, crampy, crave-y, tired, and everything in between. You hate feeling this way. You fight it. You feel guilty. You beat yourself up. You vow to do better next time around. And yet, premenstrual symptoms seem to always get the better of you.
I am no doctor, but if you look at this from a biological perspective, your symptoms make sense. Your body’s estrogen and progesterone levels have plummeted. Both estrogen and progesterone have receptor sites in the brain and influence serotonin, dopamine, and GABA, which are neurotransmitters that regulate anxiety, motivation, and mood. The experience of increased cravings, mood swings, and general out-of-sorts-ness are expected, given what’s going on in your body.
The symptoms suck. You suffer and so do those around you. Take heart. There are things you can do to increase your well-being during these days.
- Boost GABA, dopamine, and serotonin. Low levels of these neurotransmitters are linked to anxiety, mood, motivation, and chronic pain. Ways to up these three: -drink green tea, oolong tea, or black tea -take vitamin B6 -increase your magnesium intake: 1] take a hot epsom salt bath 2-3 times per week [epsom salt contains magnesium sulfate] 2] unsweetened cocoa powder -- make your own hot chocolate: mix a tablespoon of cocoa powder into a cup of hot water, add sweetener and milk if you wish, 3] other magnesium-rich foods include almonds, peanuts, cashews, leafy greens, bananas, kidney beans, black beans, brown rice, lentils, oatmeal, quinoa, avocado, pumpkin seeds, and fish.
- Stop beating yourself up. The guilt, the self-judgment, the self-blame…they MUST stop. This is a biological process your body is going through, and it’s not your fault! Wrap your arms around yourself and give yourself a hug.
- Slow the heck down. Give yourself permission to take it easy[er] during the later phase of your cycle. Take a nap. Take a morning of afternoon off. Give yourself permission to space out. Let yourself be less motivated. Allow a slower physical and mental pace. If you go with the flow instead of against it, you will stop fighting what is.
Until next time,
Individual and couples counselling for those in Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, Sooke, and all of Greater Victoria