Want a happier premenstrual week–one you can look forward to rather than dread?

Try focusing on any positive changes you experience on your pre-period days, for instance, an increase in libido and enjoyment of sex, a boost in creativity, higher energy, more motivation to clean your home and get things done, becoming more in touch with your feelings, being more likely to stand up for yourself when someone does something you don’t agree with or simply giving yourself permission to indulge in favorite guilty-pleasure foods or dress in your most comfortable, hole-ridden sweatpants and t-shirt.

By reminding yourself of positive aspects of your premenstrual changes, you’re more likely to adopt a positive attitude about these days, making them easier.

By contrast, focusing solely on negative aspects of your premenstrual week makes you more likely to feel even more negative about these days overall.

That’s the suggestion of a new study in the journal Women & Health that examined how many positive and negative premenstrual traits 241 women with healthy menstrual cycles reported on after being exposed to neutral text (a general rundown of how the menstrual cycle works), text that described a mix of both positive and negative effects of the premenstrual week and text that described solely the negative effects of the premenstrual week.

Here’s what happened:

  • In the control group, which was instructed to read the neutral text that didn’t mention premenstrual symptoms, nearly 68% of the women noted at least one positive change in their premenstrual week. Ninety percent noted at least one negative change in their premenstrual week.
  • In the group that read the text detailing a mix of positive and negative effects of the premenstrual week, like the women in the control group, these women noted both positive and negative changes they experience in their premenstrual week.
  • In the group that read the text detailing only the negative effects of the premenstrual week, the women were far more likely to focus predominantly on the negative effects of their premenstrual week and forget any positive effects.

From the results, it’s clear that the majority of us are already aware of and acknowledge at least one positive change we experience premenstrually–that is, until we are reminded about the negative side effects that occur on these days. Which is exactly what can happen when we hear only the irritating or uncomfortable effects of premenstrual days in articles or books, on TV shows, in movies or when we’re talking with someone else. Then, our normally balanced view becomes decidedly more negative, too.

Then we’re likely to spread that negativity ourselves, making other women and girls dread their premenstrual weeks as well.

The lesson we can learn here?

By keeping in mind that we’re prone to “catching” someone else’s negativity about our premenstrual week, we can go back to a healthier balance by reminding ourselves of at least one aspect we enjoy about these days. This can help make us happier on the days leading up to our period–and help us spread more positivity to others about it, so they feel happier, too.