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A psychologist’s tips for dealing with PMS

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Pre Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) requires minimal explanation for those who are affected by it, which is usually each month and a week or so before the dreaded Aunty flow shows up.

Fatigue, bloatedness, moodiness and general physical discomfort—that’s enough to make a gal want to shake a few trees.

Did you know, according to research conducted on humans (and monkeys), that women are primitively less engaging and flirtatious in the later part of their cycle?

One perspective is the moodiness and physical discomfort you experience with PMS can be the body’s protective feature guarding a possible pregnancy. So it makes sense that females would be less warm and receptive to others (and lovers!) as they approach their period.

PMS, therefore, is a protective instinct that keeps potential threats away so that your body can reproduce whether you want to/plan to, or not.

As a psychologist, I often hear of women’s challenges with mood fluctuations during this time and here’s a few things that can help

Plan and prepare for that window

Take note and monitor your mood over your cycle – you can use this for subsequent months.

If you have a regular cycle one of the upsides is that you’re able to see on the calendar when your period is due and therefore when you are likely to be experiencing the changes in mood.

Simplify and slow down the pace—self-care

During that window, you need to prepare to simplify life as much as possible. That means making a conscious, committed attempt to slow down the pace and engage in self-care.

Knowing that you are more easily aroused during this period (and not in the good way!), we want to keep all the other stimulating activities at a minimum reserving your energy for the most pertinent things.

Consider things like: ordering takeaway, finishing work on time, offer your child to a friend for a play date, and decline multiple social engagements.

Also, let your partner know that you need extra support during this time in whatever way matters most to you. 

Lower your (unrelenting) standards

Feel like you could always do better? Feel like you never have enough time? Find it hard to switch off or that relaxing is a waste of time?

Some of these behaviours are around striving for perfectionism but feeling like we can never achieve it. If you have this tendency on your regular days, this is likely to cause you extra frustration and agitation during your PMS window.

Learning how to curb this need is vital for long term mental health and strengthening your relationship with yourself and others. Learn to find your sense of self-worth because of who you are, rather than in your unique ability to complete 10 tasks while you wait for the kettle to boil.

Learn about mindfulness and being present to enjoy a spare moment without filling it, conserving your resilience and energy.  Once you have passed ovulation and are in the last half of your cycle, extra pressure can really drain your mental energy.

This depletion on energy, partnered with your shifting hormonal state is likely to be what causes you to snap—and its usually our partners, our kids, or someone who has stolen our parking spot who will generally wear the brunt of it.

Listen to your body

This is a time to focus on your needs, pay attention to what the moodiness is needing—often it reflects something you’re not paying enough attention to at other times in your cycle, and your capacity to suppress it is diminished as you approach your period.

Lastly, if you’ve noticed a recent change in your mood its always good to check in with your GP to see if there’s anything else influencing the change in mood. Some contraceptives and health conditions can also exacerbate PMS symptoms.

So, tune in and respect your amazing female form in all its glory. Our bodies carry important little lessons, so work with it—it deserves your respect.

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