Two little words that can rein in hormone-fueled anger and sadness

My Hormonology

Two little words that can rein in hormone-fueled anger and sadness

twowordsIt’s no secret that emotions can sometimes get the best of us during our premenstrual week as plunging estrogen prompts a dip in mood-regulating serotonin that can make us grumpy, blue or quick to anger.

However, that’s not the only time of your cycle emotions can get intense due to hormones.

During your Week 2 (which starts 8 days from the onset of your period–sooner in a cycle shorter than 28 days), high estrogen prompts arousal in the brain that can fan the flames of your whatever emotion you’re experiencing. Which can be good if you’re happy, since it makes you even more euphoric. But, can be kinda bad if you get ticked off because it can make you even more irritable.

Then, during your Week 3 (which starts the day after ovulation and lasts 8 days), rising progesterone can trigger the blues, making you a bit sadder at times.

Sure, it’s no big deal when your hormones help you feel overly joyous. Hey, if we could bottle that hormonal effect and sell it, we’d all be millionaires.

But, what can you do when hormones exacerbate negative emotions–the anger, the sadness–when all you crave is peaceful calm?

There’s an easy fix: Say out loud what you’re feeling.

For instance, when rising progesterone in Week 3 gets you blue, say “I’m sad.” Or when plunging estrogen in your premenstrual Week 4 triggers irritation, say, “I’m angry.”

Now stay with me here–I know this sounds hokey and New Agey and waaay too easy to work. But, there’s real science behind this technique.

According to a small 2007 study out of the UCLA, putting your feelings into words reduces activity in a part of the brain responsible for emotion–the amygdala–making that feeling less powerful. And, it increases activity in another area of the brain–the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex–which may also help to curb the intensity of that emotion, the researchers say.

Personally, I’ve tried this trick on many, many, many emotional occasions throughout my cycle and found it really dials down whatever negative feeling I’m experiencing. To me, it kind of feels like letting air out of an overinflated balloon. And, while I don’t hop off like a contented bunny after I use this technique, I am noticeably more calm, relaxed and in control. Which is a big win in my book.

Try this easy technique for yourself the next time emotions threaten to overwhelm you, then let me know if it helps!

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