Anxiety is a tough illness to battle- I know first-hand. I’ve been struggling with this disorder for most of my adult life and it gets particularly frustrating around my time of the month.
When you’re already battling the wrath from your PMS demons, it’s an unwelcomed addition to have the sensations from an actual mental illness rear its ugly head at the same time. Nearly all women suffer from the sudden mood swings and amplified emotions, but coupled with the beast that is anxiety, it can be extremely debilitating- but it doesn’t have to be.
When you feel the anxiety creep in, follow this guide to care for yourself in the best ways that you can. You can only do so much, and you can lessen the struggle- so hang in there.
Acknowledge the anxiety. The first and hardest step is to acknowledge the anxiety itself. Many people suffer from their anxiety in absolute silence but it’s totally okay to admit that you’re just going through a tough and short spell right now- it is only temporary. One of the worst things to do is to avoid the anxious feelings you’re having and live in a state of fear from the anxiety that’s creeping in. Instead, take a deep breath and remind yourself that your body is going through its monthly changes and that you’re going to be more anxious for a few days at the most, but it will subside.
Take self-care precautions to lessen the impact. There are things you can do to combat the heightened sensations in the days leading up to your period. Firstly, exercise does wonders for the body and makes a great impact on diminishing PMS symptoms overall in the days before shark week. Take a brisk walk, go to a hot yoga class or do some strength training at home while you’re watching your favorite TV shows. Get the feel good endorphins in your body to work in your favor. You’ll be thankful in the long run.
Know that you’re not crazy or losing your mind- it’s okay to struggle. You’re not losing it, you’re legitimately going through a bit of a tougher cycle- and that’s OK. Don’t ever undermine yourself because you’re having a harder time with your emotions and thoughts, that’s simply the product of having an anxiety disorder and self-sabotaging thoughts will only do more harm than good. You’re not alone and many other women go through the same challenging times.
Get plenty of rest. Sleep is one of the most important factors in lessening your symptoms of anxiety. When you’re running on little sleep, your anxiety will only be more rampant as your body is also fighting fatigue. Aim to get between 7-9 hours of rest each night in the days leading up to your period, or take some power naps to recharge when you’re feeling the anxiety kick up.
Get outside and into nature. Fresh air and outdoor activities also do amazing things to help your symptoms of anxiety. When you’re within beautiful scenery and breathing in fresh air, your brain gets a break from the overstimulation of the often action packed days of adult life. There’s a reason people say that sometimes you need to “stop and smell the roses.”
Talk about how you’re feeling if you need to. Storing up your anxious energy is something you should avoid. When you’re feeling the thoughts racing coupled with the anguish of your impending period, journal it or talk about it to someone. Counsellors are a great help in dealing with and treating anxiety or you can simply confide in a trusted friend, partner or family member. Sometimes it just helps to have someone listen and be understanding to your situation.
Fuel your body with the necessary nutrients. Your pre-period diet is always an essential tool in diminishing the effects of your PMS symptoms, but did you also know that nutrition is also a key component in treating your anxious symptoms as well? When your body or mind becomes overwhelmed with stress, it’s natural to reach for those rich and greasy comfort foods, but try and stop yourself because it actually works against you. Eating more junk food will actually increase your stress levels even if those foods feel good at the time. A good balance of healthy and nutrient foods will also help to ward off the anxiety you feel around your period.
Embrace your emotions in a healthy manner. Like I said, these symptoms are completely temporary and will go away with time and the right body and mind management, so as hard as it seems, try not to let the experience get the best of you. Embrace what you’re feeling and take thoughtful steps to allow your body to fight it off in the best ways. Living with anxiety is a challenge as it is, but you can pull through the heightened feelings around your period and come out feeling your fabulous self again. You’ve got this!