23 Mar Can’t let it go in your premenstrual week? Try hugging a tree
Don’t you just hate it when you’re trying your best to navigate your premenstrual Week 4 so it can be as good as it can be–you’re taking all the right supplements, you’re eating healthy (well, heathyish), you’re exercising–but, then some lame-o comes out of the blue and says something so unexpectedly snarky and rude that it ruins your whole premenstrual day? And, no matter what, you just can’t let it go?
This happened to me yesterday. And that snarky comment just churned and churned and churned in my mind.
But, I couldn’t beat myself up too much about not being able to let it go. That’s because according to a 2014 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, we’re more prone to ruminating–which is when you have intrusive negative thoughts repeating on a loop inside your head–during our premenstrual phase due to plunging estrogen.
Yet, at the same time, I didn’t want to keep wasting valuable mental time on this snarky person. I’ve got a lot of great projects going on right now and I don’t have the luxury to fritter away a minute thinking about something that ultimately doesn’t even matter.
So, as I was wondering how to slam the brakes on my nonstop premenstrual churning thoughts, I remembered this 2015 study about how nature can help stop rumination.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. First I made myself a root beer float. Which didn’t stop the ruminating. But, it did taste reeeallly good and inspired me to create this funny design for a premenstrual glass for root beer floats, regular beer, Long Island iced teas and any other PMS-busting beverage, which I added to my new Hormonology store.
Anyway, once the root beer float buzz wore off, I revisited that 2015 study to find a healthier, longer-lasting remedy for my churning thoughts. And, I’m glad I did.
The study found that folks who took 90-minute walks in nature–such as a park or tree-lined path–experienced a significant reduction in rumination.
By contrast, study participants who walked 90 minutes in an urban environment–along a road with lots of traffic–didn’t experience this reduction.
The researchers chalk it up to the idea that nature is beautiful and relaxing, which creates a positive distraction that replaces negative thoughts.
I can actually relate to this study quite well. When I lived in New York City, I loved to explore the city streets on long walks, but I often wound up at a tree-filled park or someplace else leafy and green. Eventually, I moved just one block from Central Park and spent practically every day there exploring trails, feeding ducks, sledding down snowy hills and playing with my dogs on the fields. It was just so relaxing and uplifting. But, when I realized that I was spending more time in a city park than in the actual city, I figured I was living in the wrong place and moved to Florida, where there’s definitely more nature than concrete.
After re-reading this study and being reminded of the mood-boosting power of nature I enjoyed while in NYC, I decided to spend some time outside among the tropical palm trees, blooming irises, mammoth philodendron and towering oak trees (yes, that’s me hugging an oak tree). And, while it wasn’t as delicious as a root beer float, being outside in nature really did settle my thoughts, relax my mind and help me finally let go of the irritating comment.
So, the next time you’re ruminating during your premenstrual week and just can’t stop, if you can, try stepping outside or heading to a green space. You could be pleasantly surprised by the results.