When people talk about PMS (Premenstrual Stress) or PMT (Premenstrual Tension) most of the focus is usually on the person being cranky and irritable around the time of their period.
However, premenstrual anxiety is also part of the picture too, and is often overlooked.
Check out these practical tips for coping.
1. Consider the pros and cons of monitoring your cycles.
If you know when to expect your period, it can help you understand why you're experiencing spikes of anxiety or other emotional distress at particular times of the month. Sometimes people also notice changes in their emotions around ovulation, so tracking your cycles will help you identify this too.
For some people, monitoring their cycles leads to dreading the week their period is due. This added anticipatory anxiety may outweigh the benefits of monitoring, for some people. You'll need to consider what's best for you.
2. Treat physical pain.
If you get cramps or other physical discomfort, treat this pain. You'll feel more anxious if you're also trying to tough out physical pain.
In general, you'll experience more pain messages just before your period and/or in the first day or two of your period. This can take different forms. For example, if you're prone to overuse-type pain then you might experience more of that. Use whatever strategies work for you to deal with this type of discomfort (medication or natural strategies), but don't just tough it out.
You might want to avoid going to the dentist around the time of your period, since your pain sensitivity will be heightened.
3. Less is more.
When it comes to managing anxiety, less is more. Since you can't completely avoid anxiety, doing too much to try to control or avoid anxiety tends to backfire.
A good strategy is to be extra kind to yourself but don't change your life too much. For example, if you attempt to avoid all stress during your vulnerable time of the month, this will likely backfire.
It's ok to do a little bit of avoidance of stress. For example, if you need to have a difficult conversation that isn't urgent, you might choose to delay that rather than have it when you're feeling extra emotional.
4. Go for walks.
Physical activity is a fantastic antidote to premenstrual anxiety. It doesn't need to be intense. For example, if you're feeling anxious in the evening, consider taking a 20 minute stroll.
If you try any suggestions from this post, I'd recommend this one goes at the top of your list.
5. Consider that your emotions will usually change faster than you expect.
Let's say you're feeling premenstrual anxiety and you get into a yucky interaction with someone. You feel terrible. You're wound up and feel very jarred. Often times, by the next day you'll feel much calmer. This is especially true if you happen to get some good news that counteracts your negative experience. Sometimes you just need to wait out your feelings.
6. Keep an eye on your caffeine use.
At the risk of TMI, for me premenstrual anxiety feels like I've drunk three cups of coffee in a row. When you're already feeling overstimulated, it's not a great idea to add extra stimulants on top of this. If your body is accustomed to coffee or caffeinated sodas, then you won't want to experience withdrawal either. Therefore you might just drink a bit less than usually do.