Eighty-five percent of women experience the discomfort of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) every month. If you are among those who suffer with such symptoms as cramps, bloating, and mood swings prior to the onset of your period, take comfort in knowing that there are many natural, and healthy ways to manage the symptoms of PMS. Consider the list below of eight tips for managing PMS.
- Get moving. While you may be tempted to stay in bed until your PMS symptoms improve, being active may actually help you feel better. Many women find that 30 minutes or more of cardiovascular exercise helps to specifically ease feelings of sadness and anxiety that they experience during their periods.
- Eat healthfully. It is particularly important in the days directly proceeding your period to increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while reducing the amount of sugar, artificial sweeteners, salt, and fat that you consume. The complex carbohydrates in whole grains, in particular, have been shown to enhance your mood. Researchers have also found that an increase in certain fatty acids, like the omega-3s, can lessen irritability and reduce pain and discomfort.
- Reduce alcohol. Reduce the amount of alcohol that you consume premenstrually. Alcohol is a depressant, which can enhance your mood swings, increase your anxiety, and feelings of depression or sadness.
- Limit caffeine. Reduce the amount of caffeine that you consume prior to the beginning of your period. Research has shown that the effects of caffeine are magnified premenstrually, leading to greater breast tenderness, more nervousness, and potentially more irritability. Aside from your morning cup of coffee, consider limiting the amount of caffeine that you consume from tea, cocoa, and chocolate as well. If you miss your warm morning beverage, switch to naturally caffeine-free chamomile tea, which contains properties that relieve muscle spasms, and may therefore help reduce the severity of menstrual cramps.
- Get enough sleep. If you are among the many women who lose sleep due to their monthly hormonal shifts, you may wake up on premenstrual days feeling irritable and moody. Try to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep on the days proceeding your period. If you are struggling to get solid hours of sleep at night, consider a short nap during the day.
- If you are a smoker – quit. Not that you needed another reason to crush this bad habit, but if you are a smoker that experiences painful and discomforting PMS symptoms, know that your smoking habit could be making your symptoms worse. A study of more than 3,000 women showed that those who smoked were more than twice as likely to develop moderate or severe PMS symptoms than those who never smoked.
- Manage your stress. If the most uncomfortable PMS symptom that you experience is an increase in feelings of stress and anxiety, consider finding healthy ways to combat these feelings through such practices as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, massage, or even simple deep breathing exercises.
- Increase your calcium. Supplement your diet during your period with extra calcium. Adding a daily dose of 1200 milligrams of calcium has been shown to ease PMS symptoms for many women.