journalYesterday, I received an email from Pam, a Hormonology reader, who was not only fed up with bothersome symptoms during her premenstrual week, she was also perplexed why her moodiness, anxiety, nightmares and other Week 4 woes intensify every other month rather than remain consistent from month to month.

So, in an attempt to investigate–and improve–her premenstrual week, Pam did something really smart:

She started keeping a diary documenting her premenstrual experiences.

Here’s why doing something like this is so useful–and can help you, too:

As you probably already know, annoying premenstrual symptoms are triggered by a steep drop in estrogen.

However, what you may not have realized is that the severity of premenstrual symptoms–and how frequently you experience them–can actually depend on a bunch of other factors: These include how nutritious your diet is (or whether you’re taking supplements to make up for a lack of nutritious foods), how much you exercise, how much stress you’re experiencing, how much sleep you’re getting, how much alcohol or caffeine you ingest, what medications you’re taking and if you’re sick or experiencing some kind of health problem. To name a few.

Since these factors can vary from month to month, they can also impact how intense premenstrual symptoms are from month to month.

So, if you have premenstrual symptoms that are bothering you, try keeping a daily diary–preferably all cycle long rather than just during your premenstrual week–and document all the factors above, such as food, exercise, stress, etc.

Then, once your premenstrual week arrives, jot down all the symptoms you experience.

Within about three cycles, you may start seeing a pattern: For instance, during months when stress is high, you may notice you have more premenstrual irritability. Or during months when you skip your regular workout, you may realize you have more premenstrual depression.

Once you notice a pattern, try to fix the problem you think could be exacerbating your premenstrual symptoms.

Then, keep writing in your diary to record any improvement–or whether you need to keep searching for another lifestyle link that could be the culprit behind your premenstrual woes.

This is an easy way to lessen premenstrual symptoms naturally. So, thanks to Pam for suggesting it!

PS: [SELF-PROMOTION ALERT!] You can always use the handy note-taking feature on my free Hormone Horoscope app to track your habits every day of your cycle. You can get the app from the App Store and Google Play.

If you try Pam’s tip, I’d love to hear about it.

And if you’ve got a great tip that improves your cycle that you want to share, let me know!

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