How to avoid a terrible pre-menstruum

I’m on day 6 of my cycle and have just come out of a terrible pre-menstruum and challenging bleed. I had a lot going on last month. As well as my day job, I had a deadline to submit a nutrition article to a scientific journal which fell on day 23 of my cycle. So for the two weeks prior to that I was pushing myself and working hard.

I was relying on a morning coffee to get me going for the day which was a habit that took me a long time to break. I’m sure I am sensitive to caffeine as it seems to affect me a lot! I was also sat at my computer for 12 hours a day and some of my other self-care practices fell by the wayside because all my energy was being pumped into my project. I made all the mistakes and really paid the price for it.

PMS and period problems oh my!

It was the 24th day of my cycle, right in the middle of the pre-menstruum. The morning after I submitted my article, I woke up at 4am feeling awful. It was the weekend but I was so exhausted and in a bad mood. I couldn’t motivate myself to do anything fun and just sat around feeling sorry for myself. By the time I went back to work on Monday I was feeling so tired and anxious.

My whole body was aching and even short walks were leaving me feeling depleted. I ended up taking a few days off work because I just didn’t have the energy and was struggling to concentrate. As the pre-menstruum progressed and my bleed approached, my moods were all over the place. I was crying over everything. My neighbours’ cat got hit by a car and I cried for a whole day. I also got angry a few times over tiny things which really isn’t like me.

I just felt so sensitive and irritable, I lost all motivation and started questioning everything in my life. This might sound extreme but anyone who has suffered severe pre-menstruum symptoms (PMS or PMDD) will understand this feeling. It’s as if this feeling of doom comes over you. Something takes over your brain and you almost feel like you are losing your identity.

My period also came a few days late and I had nearly 10 days of pre-menstruum symptoms. Headaches, insomnia, mood swings, sore breasts, aching muscles and joints, you name it! I’ve experienced all of these before and I know it was due to me not taking good care of myself this cycle. Even though I knew it already, this has really highlighted to me the importance of listening to my body. I am more committed than ever to practising cycle syncing as best as I can.

The importance of cycle syncing

A tip I learned from Alisa Vitti, the author of Woman Code and In the Flo, is to assess your to do list each day. Tehn reflect on whether this is in line with the phase of your cycle you are in. Any days that there is a clash she recommends to make sure to fit an extra self-care practice into your day. For example, e.g. if you have to do a big presentation at work on the first day of your period.

I think this is a really good idea and I am going to try and put it into practice this month. My absolute favourite self-care ritual is to have an epsom salt bath with essential oils. I love to listen to a feel-good podcast or music whilst relaxing. Then I give myself a full body massage with some yummy smelling body lotion. I also enjoy spending time outside in nature although this is a bit tricky with the lockdown right now!

Another good idea is to really pay attention to the “cross-over days” of the cycle. These are the subtle shifts in energies as you transition from one phase to the next. In this case I totally blew past the shift from inner summer (ovulation) to autumn (pre-menstrual phase). This is one of the most important points of the cycle. The energy the tide turns and we move from the outward facing, masculine, doing energy to the feminine, being energy.

The other key moment is the transition from inner winter (menstruation) to spring (follicular phase). This is when the opposite energy shift is happening. It’s important to bring awareness to these points in the cycle and register any signs from the body that its time to shift gears. Otherwise we can end up swimming upstream, living totally out of alignment with our natural rhythm.

Sometimes life gets in the way

It can be very hard to practice this when we have so many distractions and demands from the outer world. But even being aware of these energy shifts and subtle changes we feel can have a huge impact. I know if I’d paid more attention and planned better, I could have taken better care of myself. Maybe I would have avoided the crash and burn that I experienced in the pre-menstruum this month.

Right now I am hyper-aware that I am in the winter-spring crossover. I have spent the last few days resting and recharging and my energy levels have started to improve. Now I am taking care to move gently and not blow my fuse too quickly. It’s really tempting to rush to get out there and do things. Especially to catch up on work that  missed when I was off. However I’ve been taking it slowly and trying not to overdo it. 

Listening to our bodies can definitely feel frustrating at times, especially when our mind has its own agenda. I used to see it as a betrayal when my body doesn’t feel like doing the things I had planned. Now I am trying to lean into my cycle and learn from it’s messages. I know this works as I’ve been in a really good place with cycle syncing before. Unfortunately, I have lost a bit of momentum during the last few months because life got in the way.

I know that menstruality is a practice, an art even, and it takes a lot of patience and perseverance. But it’s teachings are so worth it. Especially for anyone who experiences challenges during the pre-menstruum or painful periods. It can really make a difference to how you feel every month and start to enjoy your cyclical nature.

Over to you…

If you would like to work with me to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free 15 minute discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We work together using a combination of modalities to support your individual needs and help you to feel your best.

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