Written by Mallory Junggren
Do you often find yourself feeling on edge and easily frustrated in the days leading up to your period? It’s not just that presentation at work that’s making you feel more anxious than normal. Fluctuations in mood, particularly anxiety and irritability, are commonly cited among women before their periods. These symptoms can continue, and even worsen, during the years leading up to menopause. The hormone fluctuations that happen during perimenopause can be dramatic and unexpected, making PMS anxiety and irritability more severe and difficult to predict.
While the exact cause of PMS — whether during premenopause or perimenopause — is not entirely understood, it’s likely linked to naturally occurring changes in hormones. These changes are normal and necessary, so there’s generally no need to be concerned that PMS symptoms are signaling any abnormalities. However, associated changes in mood can make some women feel out of control (particularly if those mood swings become harder to anticipate during perimenopause) and can negatively impact their quality of life. But whether your PMS happens like clockwork or shows up erratically, it doesn’t have to feel like an emotional rollercoaster. When PMS anxiety and irritability are at their worst, here are three simple coping tips to incorporate into your routine.
3 Ways to Relieve PMS Anxiety and Irritability
1) Practice Mindfulness
When most people hear mindfulness, it conjures images of meditation and yoga. Both are great tools to combat PMS anxiety and physical symptoms such as cramps and back pain. However, practicing mindfulness can be as simple as taking note of those moments of frustration or agitation. Pausing to acknowledge those feelings allows you to redirect and channel your thoughts. This can take many forms: finding a quiet space to be alone, going for a walk or reading a favorite book. It’s important to carve out time for yourself and prioritize activities that promote positivity and self-care.
2) Add Mood-Boosting Foods
Making a few easy, simple changes in diet can be one of the most immediate ways to improve your mood. Anxiety and emotional eating often go hand-in-hand, leading women to reach for a quick sugar-fix to quell a bad mood. Sugar, as well as caffeine and alcohol, can all lead to emotional unsteadiness. Check out our recommendations for the best foods for managing PMS symptoms.
3) Set Goals
Never underestimate the power of a to-do list! When the list of responsibilities feels endless, take a moment to pause and put all your thoughts on paper. It’s easy to let anxious thoughts grow like snowballs rolling down a mountainside. Take a few minutes to jot all those thoughts down, create a list and prioritize your goals. You’ll feel far less overwhelmed and be able to stop anxiety in its tracks. If longer-form writing is more suited to your style, try journaling to help process feelings associated with PMS. Use this time to release negative feelings, but also try to strike a balance by taking note of positive feelings too.
Take Control of Emotional PMS
Hormonal fluctuations are a given — especially in the years surrounding menopause. However, the wave of emotions that comes with PMS doesn’t have to be inescapable. When you take the first step of putting yourself first and practicing self-care, not only will your mood improve, but you’ll feel more in control and empowered to continue incorporating changes into your daily routine.