My HormonologyDread your period because of uncomfortable menstrual cramps? Believe it or not, your anticipation of the pain could be making your cramps worse.

According to a new study in the journal Psychology, Health & Medicine, your tendency to think of the worst possible pain scenario (called “pain catastrophizing”) peaks on Day 1 of your cycle—the day your period begins. And that’s key since fear and anxiety about what kind of discomfort you may experience ratchets up your perception of pain and prompts you to focus more on it.

So what can you do to combat it? Since a fear of not being able to control a situation worsens pain catastrophizing, write up a list of ways you would ease discomfort should it arise, such as using a heating pad, taking a painkiller, sipping chamomile tea and/or popping 30 mg. of pine bark extract twice daily—all proven ways to ease menstrual cramps.