She admits that a small thing triggered it, but it has been brewing...
Joking aside. Besides living hormonal no matter the age or weather, the week leading up to menstruation - the luteal phase - is the hardest one for the majority of reproductive women. Do you, too, turn into a tornado?
The following advice is directed to fertile pre-menopausal women. Menopausal and post-menopausal women need a slightly different approach to manage their hormonal levels. Nevertheless, we all experience uncomfortable bodily sensations and mood swings to a certain degree.
How to survive periods with calm and composure and enjoy the many privileges of the monthly cleanse?
You might be shocked right there. Privileges?
Yes, there are numerous advantages to our flow... yet we tend to sabotage it with the wrong diet, activities and mindset.
If you discovered you suffer from premenstrual syndrome, it's typical to give in to your cravings and swinging emotions. But that's what causing PMS to stick in the first place! What pays dividends, is to discipline ourselves.
With practice, that self-control will start to feel good and raises your self-esteem. Periods are such deeply intuitive, introspective times full of ancient magick - give yourself the gift of treating your body right.
I used to prefer the first two weeks of my cycle because my body was naturally more energetic and my mind steady. After ovulation, it would all go downhill, terrible PMS and all - if I continued doing what I could get away with in the first half of the cycle.
It means that while a glass of wine, some cheese and intense workouts are fine when I'm in the Follicular and Ovulation phase, it's not serving me well in the Luteal phase and Menstrual phase.¹
It can be the most miraculous time for a woman deeply in touch with herself and her body. If we calm down and sit in stillness, answers come faster and clearer than ever.
But, how can I go within when something inside of me wants to jump out of my skin?
Literally, something in there crawls...
Women with PMS can relate. It's like if the mind went on an evil crazy trip and the body dragged behind, preparing for execution. Perhaps even willing it.
If you need to scream and cry, scream and cry.
But there is a long-term solution to banish those intense roller-coaster emotions.
Enough research has been done that certain foods, activities, and chemicals influence our thoughts and thus contribute to our sadness just as well as happiness...²
We can ask our body for a signal if what we eat is right or not.
I received an indirect message about the side-effects of dairy during my Vipassana meditation course last year. That night, I put a lot of powdered cow's milk into my herbal tea, hungry after just an apple for dinner. While trying to fall asleep despite my stomach cramps (possibly the lactose), I heard a voice in my head wailing "I feel so saaaaaad."
I can only think of the low-grade milk full of hormones irritating my stomach and colon and tricking my mind into believing I had to be sad. According to the research of Felice Jacka, dairy indeed induces inflammation and thus messes up with the brain.
Simply, I can no longer tolerate what has once been tolerable. As I am getting older (and wiser), I am becoming extraordinarily sensitive to alcohol, trans fats, refined sugars and, with a heavy heart, dairy. There is no need to remain stubborn regarding diet and lifestyle.
Recently, I slipped (Yes, I'm not perfect) and during a small celebration with someone close, I downed 2 glasses of rose... To my surprise, I woke up the next day with the whole room spinning. More serious was fighting panic attacks for half a day.
To someone, 2 glasses of wine might not be much. For me and many women in the luteal phase, they are lethal.
We crave sugar, carbs, dairy, and alcohol. Don't listen to those cravings word for word. Make these swaps:
Sugar -> Fresh fruit, honey, fruit preserve without added sugar, raisins
Refined carbs (pastry) -> Make your own with whole-grains like oats or eat Japanese sweet potato (super sweet)
Dairy -> dairy-free almond milk yogurts, silken tofu with stevia, vegan protein powders, coconut milk
Alcohol -> learn to love water. Refreshing alternative - apple cider vinegar with lemon, honey and sparkling water.
Vegetable oils -> Nuts, oily fish
Especially later in the luteal phase, it is crucial that we avoid processed foods not to create inflammation in our gut.
My periods became painless thanks to this rule that I have unwittingly adopted years ago when noticing gluten and sugar sensitivity.
Right, try it!
If tired, then rest.
As Alisa Vitti recommends, skip the HIIT class in the gym, and try pilates or yoga instead. Have herbal tea, not alcohol, and watch a comedy movie. Not feeling social is perfectly ok. You don't need to isolate yourself but connect with others on your own terms. Maybe a walk in the park or coffee and chat instead of a huge event filled with strangers.
A note on that coffee... I can confirm it triggers anxiety and anger issues if we drink too much. You could take it down to just one cup to ensure you won't get nervous, adrenals don't get exhausted and you prepare for great night sleep.
Learning to stop eating and drinking what doesn't contribute to my wellbeing is a life-long quest that I will never give up on.
Once I asked the Universe to give me a sign of what to do to start feeling healthier. Clear words of direction came out of the mouth of my friend across the globe who called me that beautiful starry night: "Ah, you must be so happy in Asia, adopting the healthy lifestyle of no dairy and no alcohol!" and he is not one of those nutrition gurus, believe me...
Perhaps we know what to do after all… we just resist sometimes.
Clearly, divine timing is very different from ego timing.
As Gabriella Bernstein says: We have to let go of control, surrender and allow things to happen.
Somehow, I can see how this can help our periods too.
¹Cycle phases first seen named in .pdf report from Alisa Vitti, an expert on female hormonal balance, nutrition and infradian rhythms.
²Food and Mood Centre founded by Felice Jacka
³Some sources recommend as high as 600 grams of carbs to combat diabetes type 1! The trick is to eat very little of fat with your carbs. This new groundbreaking research came from the author of Mastering Diabetes - Cyrus Khambatta