The Hormone Diaries Part Six: How To Deal With PMS

As if bleeding every month isn’t bad enough, up to 75% of women will also experience PMS. PMS stands for premenstrual syndrome and, as the name suggests, consists of a number of really fun (not) symptoms that appear around a week or so before the start of your period. Over the years, I’ve found a few hacks and tips that can help with how to deal with PMS.

flatlay on white bedding with medication, a white letter ornament, a green and white plant

Most of you will already be quite familiar with the common symptoms of PMS. Headaches, cramps, mood swings, constipation, fatigue, and many an emotional crying fit over literally nothing. It really makes for a great time, honestly.

There are plenty of resources out there (see the NHS, Bupa UK and WebMD and many more) that can tell you everything you need to know about the scientific causes for PMS, but that’s not what I’m here for today.

No, today I will be sharing a bit of practical life advice on how to deal with PMS and a few hacks that I have discovered over the years that have made the whole episode a little less miserable.

How to deal with PMS mood swings

Diet is key for PMS mood swings. Whilst all I ever want to eat whilst experiencing PMS is chocolate and crisps, I’ve learnt that getting some basic nutrients in my sorry ass isn’t such a bad idea.

Without getting too “science-y”, vitamin B6 is great for balancing out those crazy hormones, so is naturally also your best friend during PMS. It shouldn’t also come as a shock to know that contraception can reduce the amount of B6 in the body, as we all know that contraception such as the pill can really mess with you. To up your levels of B6, try eating more fish, eggs, carrots, spinach and sweet potato (although maybe not all at once).

It’s a huge cliche but exercise also helps to boost your mood. I’m not very good at practising what I preach with this one, but when I do remember that exercising is good for you, it really does help to blow out the cobwebs. If you’re not feeling like you can conquer the gym, try just going for a little stroll or even do some yoga to release all those happy, chilled vibes.

Another thing that I find personally helps me with PMS mood swings is reading. I’m not sure there is any science behind this, but taking myself off into another world really helps to level me out and ground any anger or frustration I’m feeling. I’ve found it’s not so good for the hysterical crying, but you can’t have it all, right?

How to deal with PMS depression and anxiety

I find this is kind of an unspoken symptom of PMS, or at least less talked about than others. Before and during my period, my anxiety and paranoia are a lot worse and I have episodes of negative thinking more often.

I’ve found that normal anxiety methods such as grounding are really useful, as well as meditative breathing methods.

Self-care is really important for me when I’m feeling low – and for me, that can involve a number of things. Most of the time, I like to be alone to work through it, so I might take myself up to bed and watch a movie rather than socialising with my flatmate. Other times I (very stereotypically) want nothing more than a hot bath with some pampering. It’s all about finding what works for you with self-care!

If your PMS anxiety and depression affects your sleep, lavender pillow sprays can work an absolute dream (couldn’t resist the pun, sorry).

Again, scientifically, there are a few vitamins and minerals and things can claim to ease PMS anxiety and depression. I’ve never taken any sort of supplement for this, but this is what my internet research found.

Magnesium is said to be good for improving your overall mood, soothing anxiety and helping you sleep. It can also act as a mild pain killer too, which would be quite useful when experiencing PMS. Coffee, alcohol and sugar reduce magnesium in the body, whereas nuts, seeds and greens are a good source.

Headaches, cramps and all the other annoying pains

It’s a well-known one, but a hot water bottle is your new best friend no matter what time of the year it is. I’ve also found that having an ice-pack (or a cold flannel) on my back whilst having a hot water bottle on my front is a real game-changer if you’re like me and you get back pain as well as cramping.

If you’re like me and you find food quite hard to stomach when you have period pains, try snacking instead of having full meals. Bear with me on this one, but Chewits or Fruitella or any other flavoured chewy sweets really help to settle my stomach and make eating a lot more manageable.

Mainly, if you’re able to, I would suggest trying to keep going about your day-to-day as much as you can. Everything going on is a good distraction and sometimes the pain and aches can feel worse if you’re just sat thinking about it. If you do want to take something to ease the pain, I’d highly recommend Feminax. I took these before having my coil fitted and I barely felt a thing!

If your symptoms are unbearable and interrupt or disrupt your daily activities, pop along and see your doctor to get it checked out just in case!

So there we are! I hope my little tips on how to deal with PMS are useful. Do you have any PMS hacks or suffer from any symptoms that haven’t been mentioned? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. Cassie says

    Good advice! I’d never heard anything about Vitamin B helping with lady things. I’m starting them this month too! What a happy coincidence!

  2. Amy says

    This is some great advice – I used to swear by Feminax back when my periods were at their worst! I’m now on the pill and thankfully they’re much better but I still get horrendous PMS, especially when it comes to down to anxiety. I find my anxiety is so much worse and my mood takes a huge dip the first few days beforehand, I always try to eat a bit healthier but it’s often so much easier to go for chocolate! Thanks for sharing your tips 😊

    • whatabigailsays says

      Feminax is the best!
      Yeah my anxiety gets a lot worse, and I just get in a bit of a slump – paranoid, unmotivated, jealous etc. Its crazy how much hormones can affect your mental health!
      I hope it was helpful, or at least a nice read 😊

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