The best advice I can give you for your premenstrual week

The best advice I can give you for your premenstrual week


Here where I live in Florida, it’s hurricane season. As a result, on the news you’ll frequently hear state officials warning residents to prepare for the worst. We’re told that no matter how nice the weather may seem now, it can turn ugly in an instant. Because of this, we should get our hurricane pantry together, filling it with bottled water, canned foods, toilet paper and other essentials we might need if a hurricane arrives and knocks out power and shuts down stores.

Well, over the past couple of days, I’ve been thinking about this call to be prepared for a hurricane and how this same call to be prepared applies to our monthly cycles, too. That’s because I have been anything but prepared during my premenstrual week–a time when, like the volatile Florida weather, your mood could be nice now, but turn bad in an instant. And this lack of preparedness has made my premenstrual week far more difficult and annoying than it has had to be.

Here’s what went wrong and how I could have thwarted it:

First, my husband and I took a friend out to dinner to a restaurant we’ve been to many times before and enjoy. I was especially looking forward to treating myself to some really great food both as a reward for a mountain of unexpected extra work I ended up having to do this week and as a special premenstrual mood-boosting treat. Unfortunately, shortly after we placed our orders, the waitress returned to our table and told us the oven had just broken down, so all the food we’d ordered was cancelled. We could now only order cold items from the menu.

Right then and there, I should have insisted we leave and eat someplace else. However, I hadn’t prepared for needing a back-up restaurant. I just assumed this would work out because we’d been there so many times before. Now it seemed like a big hassle to change restaurants on the fly: We weren’t in walking distance of another eatery, so we’d all have to figure out a new place to go, get back in our separate cars and find parking. So, I tried to roll with the punches and I picked a dish all of us could share from the cold side of the menu–but that I had never tried before. Big mistake. The dish arrived and it was terrible. I mean like inedible. We all just stared at it for the next 30 minutes till we each made a hasty–and hungry–exit. My premenstrual disappointment, anger and embarrassment (after all, I’d picked the restaurant to take our friend to) was soaring.

But, ultimately it was my fault: I should have been prepared with a back-up plan because problems (like broken ovens) happen out of the blue. And, I’m well aware that in your premenstrual week you can get more overwhelmed and/or irritated by unexpected snafus due to plunging estrogen making you less resilient and flexible–and having a back-up plan already in place can prevent a premenstrual mood from going south due to the surprise problem.

However, because I clearly needed another lesson in being prepared, the Universe threw me another restaurant-related curveball the very next day. Trying to make up for the previous night’s dinner fiasco–and still craving a special premenstrual mood-boosting treat–I decided to grab Douglas and head to a restaurant downtown for lunch that has a dish I love, but I only get once a year because it’s pretty indulgent and expensive. Yet again, I had no back-up plan in case this restaurant didn’t work out. But, I figured why should I? The weather was rainy, so I knew there would be plenty of seating. And they had one of my all-time favorite meals–and I confirmed they still offered it by checking their website first. What could possibly go wrong?

The restaurant changed their menu and didn’t update their website–that’s what went wrong. They no longer offered the special meal I craved. And, because once again I didn’t have a back-up plan, I once again decided to stay and try something new that I never had before. (You’d think I don’t even read my own Hormonology Tips that clearly advise not trying anything new in a premenstrual week because plunging estrogen makes you less open to change and unfamiliar experiences!) Predictably, the meal I chose was inedible and I left most of it on the plate while I mentally composed a premenstrual Yelp review to end all Yelp reviews.

But, I didn’t leave a bad Yelp review. Instead, I reminded myself that I should have been prepared with a back-up plan even when it seemed like the first plan was a 100% sure thing. If I’d had a second restaurant picked in a worst-case scenario, I would have had a different, but guaranteed delicious, meal that would have given a lift to my premenstrual day instead of leaving me feeling even lower than before.

Okay, so now I was fully reminded of the need for back-up plan preparation for my premenstrual week–no matter how much of a sure thing it seems.

Well, last night, I was also reminded of another way I need to prepare for my premenstrual week: I need to anticipate potential problems and cut them off the pass.

Here’s what happened: Last night I left my cellphone by the bed–a big no-no in my premenstrual week. That’s because plunging estrogen makes my sleep a lot lighter, so I’m far more easily woken up by noises, such as dogs barking, car doors slamming outside and my cellphone beeping or buzzing from texts or emails. And once I’m woken up in my premenstrual week, it’s almost impossible for me to fall back asleep. But, I was feeling as equally lazy as I was hopeful that my phone wouldn’t make any noise overnight, so I left it on my nightstand rather than bring it back downstairs out of earshot. (I don’t like to silence my phone because I always forget I’ve turned off the ringer and end up missing a week’s worth of phone calls before I remember.)

You know what happened next, right? Of course you do! At 2 am, my phone beeped loudly and woke me up out of a sound slumber. I refused to check the phone because I knew the bright light from it would wake me up even more. But, after trying awhile, I couldn’t get back to sleep and my growing curiosity and worry got the better of me–what if it was an emergency or something important?–making me even more alert. So, I rolled over and looked: It was a spam email. By 4 am, I was still trying every trick in the book to get back into slumberland.

The lesson here: I should have prepared for better premenstrual sleep by putting my phone far away from my bedroom.

I know this was a long post to wade through for me to make my point about preparing to make your premenstrual week better. But, I’d rather you learn from my mistakes (and recall hungry, tired, irritable Gab) when you’re about to make premenstrual mistakes of your own.

This way, you’ll remember to have a back-up plan when choosing restaurants, movies, a car rental company, a recipe for a special home-cooked meal, a birthday celebration or anything else you’re planning to do during your premenstrual week.

And, you’ll remember to do what you can to thwart potential problems that tend to crop up in your premenstrual week, for instance, ridding your home of snack foods if you’re on a diet since willpower is lower when estrogen dips, hiding your cash and credit cards if you’re trying to save money since research shows you’re more prone to splurging premenstrually or silencing your phone when you’re trying to sleep since low estrogen can make pre-period sleep lighter.


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