09 Nov Secret to a happier premenstrual week
Want happier, calmer, more energized and less achy premenstrual days?
There’s one key way to get them: Fit in more time to de-stress before your premenstrual days begin.
The stress-PMS connection
Research shows that women who have the least stress throughout the first three weeks of their cycle have significantly fewer and far less intense bothersome symptoms (such as irritability, the blues, fatigue and pain) in the week before their period than women who are highly stressed.(1)
The theory: Stress may alter estrogen and/or brain chemical levels in a way that worsens premenstrual symptoms.
Additionally, stress floods your system with stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which trigger inflammation that exacerbates pain sensations and worsens a soured mood caused by plunging estrogen.
An unexpected stress surprise
Want another reason to make de-stressing throughout your cycle a priority?
Experiencing stress in your current cycle can worsen premenstrual symptoms in your next cycle. That’s right—the one after you get your next period!
The reason? Researchers suspect it comes down to a domino effect: Your high stress in your current cycle may alter hormone levels or activate your body’s sympathetic nervous system (responsible for that edgy fight-or-flight response), which then alters levels of brain chemicals that affect mood and pain—and these changes then eventually catch up with you in your following cycle.
Live a stressful life?
Let’s face it—stress from school, work, kids, travel, hectic days, bills or unexpected snafus isn’t going to just magically disappear the moment you want it to.
But, you can still take steps to tame your stress level—despite facing life’s many stressors—by adopting habits that are proven to curb your body’s response to stress and reduce the output of stress hormones. Just a few include:
- Tai chi
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Drinking black tea
- Being outside in nature
- Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep
- Doing a favorite hobby
- Spending time with friends
- Talking with a loved one
- Listening to relaxing music
Do one proven stress-buster per day—even for just a few minutes—and you’ll be on the road to more peaceful premenstrual days.
You’ll see results fast
Think it’ll take awhile to see results from your de-stressing activities? Not so! Listen to this:
Researchers found that women who decrease their stress in their current cycle experience a significant drop in premenstrual woes in the very next cycle.
This means that if you start adopting a stress-busting routine today, and stick to it every day of your cycle, you’ll be on course to enjoying happier, calmer, more energized and less achy premenstrual days right away.
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(1) “Perceived Stress and Severity of Perimenstrual Symptoms: The BioCycle Study”, Journal of Women’s Health, May 2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2875955