Maybe I’m alone in this, but I find a lot of the “top tips for coping with PMS” type articles indescribably infuriating. I can only conclude that they’re written by someone who has never actually felt the intense rage that comes with the monthly reminder of being female. Perhaps they’re written by robots? OR MEN.
It’s quite possible that I’m just impatient and particularly dramatic when it comes to PMT, but I am 100% definitely sure that the last thing I want to do whilst cursing my ovaries is stock up on leafy veg and download a meditation app. Those tips can be saved for some other gal.
Since coming off the pill 18 months ago though, I’ve tried to become more in tune with my body and come up with some coping strategies for these darkest of days. I know I’m in an extremely lucky position in that I have regular cycles, but I still find the lead up to “the main event” hellishly rubbish…and you almost certainly do too.
So whilst I know that we’re all very different, I thought it would be rude not to share a few of the things that I find helpful.
Oh and if you’re PMS-ing right now, then peace be with you and know that THIS TOO SHALL PASS. You’re a brilliant woman and you don’t deserve to feel this crappy. Next week will almost certainly be better.
Here be my tips…
1. Track your cycles so that you can recognise that what you’re dealing with is PMS.
I am a massive fan of cycle tracking apps and they deserve a whole post of their own, but the point here is that *actually acknowledging* that you’re dealing with PMS will make everything that bit easier.
You’re not crazy. You’re not mean. You’re not disgusting. You’re just dealing with a tonne of fluctuating hormones and if you know your period is due in a couple of days because a helpful app is telling you, you can hopefully cut yourself a bit more slack.
2. Give yourself space for big decisions.
Now is probably not the time to decide to quit your job or move to Australia or finally slap Ian from Accounts. Write down how you’re feeling or draft that cutting email and just leave it for a few days. When you come back to it you may well feel the same and the PMS was just a not-so-happy coincidence, but you may find the whole thing ridiculous in which case you’ll be relieved you waited before taking any drastic action.
3. Have someone you can vent to.
PMS can almost be quite enjoyable if you have a dedicated WhatsApp group with girlfriends where you basically just endlessly rant. It’s like screaming into a paper bag, but with the added bonus of friends who know just what to say to make everything better.
4. Don’t weigh yourself or spend oodles of time poking your tummy.
I mean this is just obvious but seriously, PMS you is not real you. Don’t be cruel to yourself.
5. Have a shower, not a bath.
I know baths are touted as the relaxing option but I’ve come to realise that an invigorating shower is much more helpful when I’m PMSing. I try to use really minty products so that I feel particularly zingy and awake and ALIVE.
Extra points for angrily singing “I’m gonna wash that man right out of my hair” at the top of your lungs, regardless of how any men have behaved recently.
6. Have foodie treats on standby.
Obviously doing a big food shop whilst in the throes of a PMS meltdown is not ideal, so make sure you have food at home on standby. I don’t care if kale is what “my body really craves”, when I’m hormonal I want bread and salt and cheese and it’s not going to kill me if I have it. But I might kill someone if I don’t.
I try to be organised enough to have things like frozen pizza and froyo on standby so that I don’t call Domino’s and order every single item. A frozen pizza isn’t a salad, but it’s usually a lot healthier than a takeaway one.
Tbh I can sometimes find just “allowing” myself to eat what I want on those few days makes me eat more sensibly, it’s the outright bans that usually lead to more ridiculous craving and binging.
7. Get some outdoor exercise.
Okay so this one used to always infuriate me when I’d read it in “top tips” lists but it’s annoyingly true. Exercising outside will help boost your endorphins and generally get you feeling a bit better.
This isn’t when you try to break your PB though, just do what you can in the real outdoors. Even if it’s raining. Even if it’s dark. Even if it’s just a walk. Trust me.
8. Allow yourself some wallowing time.
As soon as I actually allow myself to give up and wallow in self-pity, I stop wanting to wallow. I suppose it’s not dissimilar to going to your room and slamming the door as a child; if nobody comes to make a fuss you’ll get bored in ten minutes and slope back downstairs to watch Byker Grove with a KitKat.
Just giving myself the option to cancel all plans and go to bed at 7pm seems to make me want to actually get dressed and go to the pub. Wallowing is pretty dull, after all.
9. Wear your most supportive bra and be ready to go up a size.
My favourite PMS symptom is that my already gigantic breasts take on an extra layer of swelling and start to feel like two enormous bags of rust. It’s beyond hideous.
Needless to say, wearing a decent supportive bra is more important than ever at this time of the month – so perhaps leave the jazzy strapless number for when you’re not feeling quite so engorged.
10. Have something on standby that’s guaranteed to make you laugh.
I firmly believe that laughter is the best medicine. I have a face swap picture of my parents where my dad looks like a demented Humpty Dumpty and my mum looks like a League of Gentleman extra and just looking at this ridiculous image makes me 100 times cheerier. Find yourself a guaranteed laughter inducer like that.
Watch your favourite episode of Peep Show. Listen to that silly podcast. Laughing is ALWAYS a good idea.
11. Try to manage your workload and chores so you can take it a bit easier during your PMS days.
As a “creative”, I spend the majority of my PMS days feeling like everything I’ve ever written/created/looked at is a complete waste of time and should be put in the bin. I can find it very hard to produce content on those days, but at the same time I can’t exactly do naff all so I try to prepare (within reason!) so that the things I know I struggle with the most don’t land on those days. It won’t be practical for every job – I know that – but if you can move anything around so the worst things don’t land on the worst days, it can help.
It’s not just work related of course, even small things like making sure your bedroom is tidy so that “AND MY HOUSE IS A HORRIBLE MESS” can’t be added to your list of PMS woes can be helpful.
And I think that’s it!
I’ve not included things like “neck ibuprofen whilst cradling a hot water bottle” as I think that’s pretty obvious, but hopefully one or two of the above are vaguely helpful.
I mean let’s be honest here, it’s helpful just to stand up and say “PERIODS ARE REALLY GHASTLY”. Because heck, they are.
I just want to add that whilst most women suffer from some degree of hormonal rage and I’ve been quite jokey in this post, the impact of severe PMS should never be underestimated. I feel a lot better for coming off hormonal contraception, but for other people hormonal contraception helps a lot. You should definitely speak to your GP or family planning clinic (I found the latter more helpful, but that’s just my experience) if you feel like your PMS is particularly bad. There are charities who you can get in touch with for support too, like NAPS.