PMS is like one of those really agitating itches you get on parts of your body that are just un-itchable. Like a weird, uncomfortable sensation on the heel of your foot or a bug bite on that exact part of your knuckle where the itch never seems to go away. PMS has a tendency to be annoying and uncomfortable, and sometimes it feels like we don’t acknowledge just how much of a pain it can be.
Premenstrual syndrome (or PMS as we know it) varies from woman to woman, but it can include bloating, mood swings, fatigue, irritability, tender breasts, and food cravings a week or two before our periods are set to begin. For most women, it’s an inevitable part of their menstrual cycle. In fact, the Mayo Clinic attests that 3 out of every 4 women experience PMS at some point in their lives. *Sighhhh*
Since experiencing PMS during your lifetime is more likely than not, we’ve come up with a handy survival guide for you to hunker down with during those weeks when curling up in a ball and binge watching Gilmore Girls feels like your only avenue of solace.
Heat Things Up
Heating pads can work wonders to ease the cramping pains that come along with PMS. In a study published in 2001, researchers found that topically applied heat was just as effective as taking ibuprofen for period cramps. Much like applying heat to other strained muscles after exercising, heating pads help to relax the myometrium, which is the smooth muscle coat around the uterus. When placed on our lower abdomen, the heat reduces the constriction of blood vessels and improves blood flow to the uterus. So if you’re already in the fetal position wishing away your cramps, do yourself a favor and add a heating pad to the mix to help ease the discomfort.
Up Your Vitamin Intake
As women, we should all be on a vitamin regimen that specifically caters to the female body, but we know how difficult it can be to remember your 6 different vitamins every morning while you’re getting dressed for work and simultaneously eating yogurt and dialing in for the daily conference call. It’s important, however, to give your body a little extra TLC if you experience regular PMS. Fish oil, vitamin B12, and magnesium supplements should be your best friend during PMS. In a small Danish study, researchers found that daily doses of Fish Oil and Vitamin B12 target cramps, headaches, and fatigue. Additionally, magnesium aids in nerve and muscle function. This trio taken together acts as a triple threat against the most agonizing of PMS symptoms.
Move Your Body!
We know, we know—exercising while you’re bloated, irritable, and ready to snag any salty or chocolate-coated item that comes within a foot of your vicinity sounds next to impossible. However, exercising or even taking a short walk around your block can help get blood flowing, as well as reduce fatigue and depression symptoms during PMS. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests just 30 minutes of exercise a day during PMS can help alleviate anxiety and pain.
Fill Up on Inflammation-Fighting Foods
The bloating and cramps we experience during PMS are a result of inflammation in our bodies as they prepare to menstruate. Yogurt is packed with probiotics and vitamin D. It should be a staple in your fridge during PMS, as it eases inflammation in the gut and can help reduce the appearance of bloating. Opt for foods like salmon and leafy greens like spinach, kale, and swiss chard. They’re filled with omega-3 fatty acids (big ups to fish oil!) and are good sources of vitamin D and magnesium. Finally, try to avoid caffeine, alcohol, salt, and sugar if your PMS symptoms are particularly bad. These foods have high inflammation properties, and will take your cramps and bloating to a level nobody wants to be on. You can read more about PMS-fighting foods here.
Get Some Rest
Finally, treat yourself like the queen you are and get some deep, much-needed sleep! Whether you’re experiencing extreme PMS or not, sleep is how our bodies heal and recharge to fight off whatever they’re going through. Unfortunately, women can experience less REM sleep during the Luteal phase of their cycle, resulting in bouts of insomnia during PMS. At the very least, taking the time to relax in a quiet space can soothe both your body and mind during the toughest stretch of PMS. Grab some essential oils, switch on the humidifier, get your heating pad ready, and take some time to breathe throughout the week.
PMS, as we all know, can be hard to avoid. The fatigue and irritability that arrives with it makes it even more frustrating to try and seek out ways to ease the discomfort. Aim to keep a cabinet in your house equipped with some of the items above so when your symptoms do start creeping in next time, you’re ready to attack it from all your achy, bloating angles.