Those who know me know that I tend to be rather vocal about my menstrual cycle (sorry to all the male readers, but it’s the truth). PMS — and the lovely symptoms that incorporate menstruation — rear its ugly head every month via mind-numbing cramps, and moments where I want to weep at everything imaginable, eat everything imaginable, or yell at everything imaginable.
PMS is that pesky hormonal time where emotions are heightened; where we’re susceptible to vulnerability. We’re more prone to feeling annoyed or stressed or upset over circumstances that may normally be dealt with calmly.
According to Jan Sheehan’s article posted on Everyday Health, researchers correlate these emotional surges with hormone fluctuation during the menstrual cycle, particularly in regard to estrogen.
“Estrogen levels begin to rise slowly just after a woman’s period ends, and it peaks two weeks later,” Carol Livoti, MD, said. “Then, estrogen levels drop like a rock and begin rising slowly before dropping again just before menstruation starts.”
Livoti explains that stressful triggers don’t directly cause PMS, but they can certainly increase moodiness.
“Reduced levels of estrogen during the luteal phase of the cycle could possibly cause a drop in serotonin, although more research needs to be done to confirm this link,” she said. “Lower serotonin levels are associated with depression, irritability, and carbohydrate cravings, all of which can be PMS symptoms.”
Here are some of my own personal ways to cope with PMS’s emotional roller coaster.
Once I’m aware that I’m PMSing, I automatically tune into what my body is telling me. I tend to be prone to anxiety, especially when the root of the ailment is unknown. Once I’m able to hone in on what I’m experiencing, I feel relieved, simply knowing the source of discomfort. Paying attention to my body’s cues helps generate clarity.
This is probably my favorite suggestion. In the past, I’d berate myself for my feelings. Now, when I’m feeling moody or sad, I exude self-compassion. It’s okay, I tell myself. I’m only human. I need to allow these emotions to be whatever it is they’re supposed to be.
Let them run their course. Don’t resist. The moment will pass. After all, such thoughts and feelings are transient. Nothing is permanent.
Keep others in the loop.
When I’m hormonal and incredibly emotional, I let others know, hoping that open and honest communication will foster a sense of understanding. Perhaps this understanding will eradicate confusion as to why I’m out of sorts (at least that’s my end goal). Sometimes, I may even need to take space for myself to shield negative energy from radiating outward in social situations.
PMS encompasses hormonal changes that can create emotional haywire. Hopefully, by sharing the ways in which I cope — acknowledgment, self-compassion and keeping others informed — navigating PMS can become a tad easier.