Do you get down, anxious or irritable during your premenstrual week? Do you tend to ruminate, too, dwelling on how these bothersome premenstrual symptoms are ruining your day?
If so, listen up: Focusing on negative premenstrual moods could actually be intensifying them, making your premenstrual week worse than it has to be.
That’s the word from a 2014 University of Maine study that found women with the most severe psychological premenstrual symptoms were the ones who ruminated about them the most.
Why’s that? It may be that zeroing in on negative moods amplifies their effects by encouraging you to focus on them more–and blotting out positive thoughts that could turn the mood around–which just feeds the negativity. The result: A bout of the blues ends up growing into despondence, a bit of apprehension could turn into an anxiety attack or a minor annoyance can be transformed into full-blown anger.
The action you can take: When a bad mood strikes in your premenstrual week–say, frustration due to an annoying shopper on line ahead of you or disappointment from not hearing back from someone you expected to call–acknowledge that descending estrogen is lowering feel-good brain chemicals, which can trigger more negativity. Then resolve to avoid dwelling on the bad mood and do whatever it takes to move past it, for instance, by thinking of something positive (like a person you love) or distracting yourself with something enjoyable (such as reading a good book).
Not only will this prevent a downward spiral that worsens PMS symptoms, these positive thoughts will temporarily prompt a higher output of brain chemicals that make you happier and more relaxed, making a premenstrual day a little better.
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