Surviving the Holidays with PMS
Ever feel like asking Santa for a break from your PMS? The holiday rush and untreated PMS can make for a pretty mean combination. I mean, not only are you busy elbowing through crowded stores, overheating in your winter jacket and negotiating splitting time between different sides of the family – but if you’re doing this alongside PMS, it’s all topped with a dollop of depression, irritability, anxiety, breast tenderness, fatigue and cramps. (Note: If you have a more intense form of PMS called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), then “dollop” is a major understatement).
Don’t let PMS take away from this glowing, warm, delicious season. As weird as it sounds, I actually enjoy my premenstrual phase. I’ve monitored it closely over the years and have learned to master it. It’s possible to make use of the unique things that are happening to your brain and body during this time and turn your premenstrual phase into a time of incredible peace and restoration. Below are some of my favourite tips on how to do this.
Reflect, Reflect, Reflect
Because of rising progesterone levels and other hormonal changes that impact your brain and mood, you may feel like being more of a home-body during your premenstrual phase. You may also be feeling more anxious, sad and irritable for seemingly no reason at all. I really like to use this time to journal because I find that I can channel all that overthinking and worrying into figuring out things that have been bothering me over the month and what I can do to improve them. Many women find they’re more sensitive and contemplative during this time so you can use that to you advantage and really dig into solutions for issues that have been coming up for you lately.
Those same hormonal changes I mentioned can also leave your body feeling heavy and sluggish. You may find that you retain more water and you may experience breast tenderness and some pretty strong fatigue. Exercise can help you push through this fog. Many women (including myself) find it hard to do vigorous exercise during this time but it’s still important to stay active. I use this time to do more relaxing workouts like slower paced yoga classes or less intense cardio. Staying active while being mindful of your stamina can help relieve that physical heaviness and discomfort that comes with PMS.
Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet (Or at Least Try to)
It’s super tempting to give into all your junk food cravings this time of the month but all that junk food can contribute to inflammation which can worsen cramps and brain fog during your premenstrual phase. Try to keep junk food out of the house so you’re less tempted. If you absolutely can’t resist (we’re in the same boat), at least try to increase your fruit, vegetable and healthy fat intake so that you can have more anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory foods in your diet.
There are some really effective herbs and nutritional supplements for PMS. Vitex, calcium, magnesium, adaptogens, black cohosh and many other natural remedies are worth considering. But it’s not one size fits all. Certain herbs and nutritional supplements may be completely wrong for you based on your symptoms, blood work, physical exam results and health history. Make sure you get solid guidance before choosing a supplement for your PMS. Your naturopathic doctor can help you with this along with sorting out the root causes of your PMS such as hormonal imbalances and inflammation.
PMS is especially annoying around this time of year when all you want to do is enjoy the holidays and connect with loved ones. We talk about PMS as if it’s the norm and there is nothing we can do about it but that’s just not true. Do what you can to own your premenstrual phase and reclaim that week of your life and your holidays!
Dr. Samantha Dass is currently a naturopathic doctor working at Holland Landing Health Centre in East Gwillimbury, Ontario, which services Holland Landing, Newmarket, Aurora, Keswick and Bradford areas. If you are interested in naturopathic services please contact Holland Landing Health Centre at 905-853-7900 or via e-mail at [email protected].