Menstrual pain is, unfortunately, considered a normal part of periods, but it may get so extreme that it can hinder your day-to-day life. The abrupt emotional changes, mood swings, and constant behavioral changes that come with PMS can destroy romantic, friendly, and work relationships. Over the long-term, women can even begin to suspect that these emotional and painful problems are part of their identity. The shame, embarrassment, and over-compensation that comes with that identity leads to a negative-feedback loop that increases emotional and physical pain.
Period pain is a reality for a majority of people born with a uterus (women), especially at the point when it severely starts affecting routine life. Almost 35 to 40% of females have reported suffering with period pain so severe that it becomes difficult for them to get to work, school, or address their necessary duties. When the pain occurs, it stresses the emotional well-being of women, which then taxes the mental health.
Surprisingly, almost 8 to 10% of females have reported having suicidal thoughts due to the long-term and cyclical proliferation of physical pain and mental disturbance. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is the extreme form of PMS in which hormonal fluctuations adversely affect the thinking patterns.
Why do I feel mentally disturbed during periods?
The menstruating years and the years leading up to complete menopause can include greater vulnerability to developing negative thoughts, depression, and anxiety which take a toll on emotional and mental health. The hormonal fluctuations speed up, which leads to premenstrual mood disturbance.
The cramps, heavy bleeding, and gradually expanding pain that follow in menstruation bring the hormonal instability from bad to worse.
Tips to manage the emotions during the menstrual cycle
Self-care is important, especially when you are going through cyclical changes in your hormones or during the period cycle if pain and emotions are triggered irregularly. The menstrual cycle definitely impacts a woman’s emotional, intuitive/spiritual, physical, and mental health. Her mood, level of energy, and general well-being fluctuate due to the hormonal changes that take place during the four phases of the menstrual cycle.
Here are a few steps that make discerning how the body, emotions, mind, and intuition might feel as it experiences the four menstrual phases.
- Track your cycle
By keeping track of your cycle, you can get to know it better and spot patterns in your mood. When you are conscious of and anticipate changes in your mental state, you can take additional care of yourself and use coping mechanisms. Menstrual cycle tracking doesn’t have to be time-consuming, thanks to various apps that take care of everything for you on your phone.
It is helpful to keep track of your mood on what is known as “Day 1” of your cycle, which is the first day you bleed (honestly, it’s not bleeding, it is the shedding of the lining of the uterus–here at Steady + Free we call it Menstrual Shedding). As you keep doing this, you’ll gain a deeper knowledge of the reasons behind your mood swings and be able to decide on the best course of action for self-care.
- Try some exercises
Various medical studies have suggested that regular aerobic exercises will minimize and aid in relieving PMS symptoms, including lethargy, anxiety, and fatigue. It’s common for this time of the month to not feel motivated enough to exercise. So definitely choose exercise that feels good, not exercise that depletes you more. Endorphin-releasing molecules are released during exercise, which interacts with brain receptors to lessen your experience of pain and cause a comfortable sensation throughout the body.
Therefore, easy exercises help lessen PMS-related cramps and pain. Serotonin and dopamine are released during exercise, and these molecules not only improve mood but can also reduce the production of hormones that promote anxiety. You may also try yoga, which helps with bloating, combats PMS symptoms, and a variety of emotional discomfort.
- Manage your stress
Stress is the main cause of severe menstrual symptoms because it can disrupt cycles and interfere with hormone production in a highly consequential way. To learn more about how powerfully stress affects PMS, Menstruation, really the entire menstrual cycle, check out the White Paper written by yours truly (Christine Marie, The Period Whisperer). Your daily life routine can suddenly become overwhelming because some periods can be unpredictable as a result of cumulative stress.
Therefore, it’s crucial to use stress-reduction strategies during and prior to your menstrual phase.
PMS alone can be stressful, especially if the symptoms make it difficult for you to go about your daily activities–resulting in cramps that can make it difficult to get out of bed or mood swings that hurt relationships.
Your body makes more stress hormones such as cortisol and corticotropin-releasing hormones (CRH) while you’re under stress. Your menstruation may be late or absent if stress has a particularly strong impact on your hormones. Finding modest methods to decompress and give yourself a break is crucial, and resetting your life to diminish the massive amounts of unconscious stress can in fact end period problems.
- Get plenty of sleep
Not only during your menstrual cycle but even after that, getting enough sleep can be a key strategy for reducing stress. Numerous studies indicate that a sound sleep of 8 to 9 hours will help the body naturally lower stress levels.
You can improve your relationship with sleep by setting up a regular bedtime and waking schedule according to your menstrual phases. Relaxing before bed, refraining from using caffeine or electronic devices at night help you follow a sleeping pattern.
- Meditate yourself through mindful activities
Particularly for those with severe PMS, studies have shown that meditation can help with the condition’s physical and emotional symptoms. Additionally, it can lessen menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, pain, and water retention. Practicing mindfulness can manage distracting thoughts and lower your stress levels.
When you start indulging in mindful activities, it enables you to connect with yourself. You may take help from meditation apps and engage in a five-minute guided meditation to improve your self-awareness and emotional awareness. Try meditation to lower your stress and frustration levels when on your period. It’s a low-risk technique to tackle your PMS symptoms.
How do period cramps impact mental health?
Period cramps can contribute to feelings of anxiety, irritability, and mood swings. The pain and discomfort associated with cramps can be distressing, leading to increased stress levels and decreased mood stability.
What are some common mental health symptoms associated with period cramps?
Common mental health symptoms associated with period cramps include increased irritability, mood swings, anxiety, depression, and difficulty concentrating. Some individuals may also experience fatigue, insomnia, and a general sense of emotional instability.
How can I manage the impact of period cramps on my mental health?
There are several strategies you can try to manage the impact of period cramps on your mental health. These include practicing self-care activities like taking warm baths, engaging in relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and seeking social support from friends and family–and doing all of these activities in alignment with your particular menstrual phase.
There is no one way to “be” every day of the course of your menstrual cycle, there are four ways to be because the body physiologically orients itself in four different ways and has four different sets of holistic strengths and needs. When we address the holistic needs and nurture the body as it wishes to be nurtured in each distinct phase period pain, PMS, ends.
Are there any specific therapies or treatments for managing mental health during period cramps?
There are two answers to this question:
Conventional Methods which accommodate and address temporary relief. While there are no specific therapies or treatments solely focused on mental health during period cramps, various approaches can help. Some individuals find relief through cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help in managing stress, anxiety, and coping with pain. Additionally, hormonal birth control methods, prescribed by a healthcare professional, may be considered to regulate the menstrual cycle and potentially reduce the severity of cramps and associated mental health symptoms.
Dynamic shift. Managing mental health and the overall holistic well-being of the whole person means addressing the whole woman. Accepting that, in contrast to people born without a uterus (men), the whole woman does not have a consistent way of being and when we stop trying to be consistent and embrace our four different consistencies, the stress that comes with trying to be something we are not, stops. The collective is an immersive space, accessed through a membership system where the whole woman learns to nurture herself to pain-free, PMS-free, consistent normal length menstrual cycles.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms, which might include mood swings, irritability, depression, anxiety, and fatigue, is experienced by women. It is crucial to practice self-care and to buck the societal dogma (that women be of service to others first) by actually, instead, being of service to themselves first. The commitment to nurturing the body every day in the way that it needs, according to its phase, includes getting enough sleep, eating what your body requests–it knows what it wants in each phase, and exercising frequently in the right way for each phase. Yoga, meditation, and other stress-management techniques are all parts of life that make such an impact that, it is non-negotiable for our members in the Collective who end their period problems.
What matters most is beginning.
Speaking with a healthcare physician or mental health expert may be beneficial if you have major emotional or mental health symptoms during your menstrual cycle. They can assist you in creating a strategy for managing the pain and relieving severe mood swings.
Unfortunately, for many of us, including myself, doctors and experts could not end my suffering and often their interventions, especially birth control, resulted in exacerbating the severity of the symptoms. We created a framework that ends Period Problems, including PMS and PMDD, through nurturing our thriving rather than nurturing and encouraging the stress that results in PMS and PMDD. Begin the journey to end Period Problems, join our email list to learn more.