Stress and Periods always had a connection. Every month we juggle with all the emotions that invade our minds and hearts in the journey to menstrual periods. How stress affects menstruation is difficult to assess but both are interlinked. Untreated stress combined with increased hormone levels can cause havoc in our daily lives which in turn may lead to mental stress. This World’s Mental Health Day, Paridhi Mantri, Manager – Consumer Insights & Product Innovation at Paree shares her thoughts and remedies on how to deal with mental stress during periods.
Why Do Periods have such an extreme effect on Mental Health?
Having a regular menstruation cycle is really important for women’s health. When one is stressed it leads up to ovulation, which makes it rather difficult for certain hormones to be triggered and released on schedule. This results in delayed ovulation, resulting in untimely and unpredictable periods. Moreover, worrying that something is wrong with the cycle leads to stress & anxiety. Delayed ovulation also poses a significant challenge to women who are planning to get pregnant. All women without exception experience fluctuating hormones. However, hormonal changes during the second half of the menstrual cycle may cause a low mood and irritability in some people.
It is still unclear why some people develop PMS. Experts speculate that genetic differences may make some people more sensitive than others to changing hormone levels and the influence of these hormones on the brain.
Stress Can Affect All Aspects of Life
The growing awareness of poor mental health during periods has gained momentum in the last decade or so. Essentially because of our demanding lifestyles, women feel the strain of dealing with many aspects of their lives. Relationships can suffer from the emotional symptoms of depression, anxiety, and irritability, leading to additional stress on mental and emotional health. Work productivity could plummet, because of the stress of multi-tasking domestic & professional work. Mild symptoms would have less severe repercussions. For instance, a mom may lose her temper with a child who’s pushing her limits. A boss may snarl at her employee. There’s the old joke that the ‘beast’ in a woman comes to the surface, but the reality is painful as most women don’t know how to cope. The reverse also holds true. Women with anxiety disorders are more likely to have shorter menstrual cycles. Irregular cycles are also linked to eating disorders and depression. Severe symptoms requisite medical attention, as women may not realize that they are going through depression and the fall-out could be serious.
How Can Women Achieve More Balance?
For individuals who experience severe symptoms and maybe anxiety & depression during their period, should definitely seek medical help. The options range from home remedies to medication. It can be useful to track symptoms before and during a menstrual period to help a doctor confirm a diagnosis and create a treatment plan. Dietary and lifestyle changes may help in cases of mild PMS. Some useful remedies include:
- Home remedies better at counteracting discomfort- During the menstrual cycle some women experience a high degree of discomfort esp. during the initial days of Heavy Flow. So, if you experience any kind of cramping or pain, you can bank upon a hot potion of turmeric milk. If the body is calm the mind will also experience calmness.
- Choosing the right pad- It is equally important to choose the right pads depending upon your flow type, skin type, body weight and flow type. Softer Pads which are gentle on skin and therefore irritation free are better suited in hot and humid Indian weather. Similarly, these days there are pads especially designed for Heavy Flow like the Paree Heavy Flow Champion Pads, which can be opted for the initial days to keep Heavy Flow worries at bay. Therefore, one should be aware of the sanitary pad they are using according to the various factors stated above.
- Mental hygiene- Think positive thoughts, listen to invigorating music, keep a positive outlook, read books that make you smile and laugh. This is what will help you maintain your mental health. Make sure you keep negativity at bay and draw a mental equilibrium where you can face all your challenges with ease. This is the most important part since your menstrual cycle will most likely push you into a low mood spiral. Your go to mental hygiene is ingesting only that content that makes you happy!
- Mental Cleanse- This is the time for a mental cleanse so do what eases you the most, take 10 minutes out for yourself to do something uplifting- chant, eat, pray, play or indulge in a power nap, anything that helps you revisit your happy thoughts while you take a break from your regular work- This is a mental cleanse that you need at least twice a day during the entirety of your menstrual cycle. A sound sleep is very essential at this time to help in the recovery and recuperation process- quality of sleep becomes important.
- Eat what you crave- This is not the time to think about calories but content- most women usually crave certain foods during this time. Please go ahead and eat what you like just be cautious on the time and portion that you intake. Avoid salads and raw vegetables at night – anything that takes time to digest ends up exacting more pressure on the digestive system and may make you uncomfortable. Try and eat smaller portions to keep yourself feeling light. This is huge for mental health, if you are satiated your mind will remain at ease.
- Lastly, drink a lot of water and maintain a healthy intake of natural vitamins and minerals to keep the mood light and bright. You will really need this as the weather gets hotter and humid. Just keep a flask of lemonade with you at all times.
*It is important to speak to a doctor before taking supplements to treat PMS or any other condition.
Support for Women Is On the Rise
The good news is that women are finally being given the attention they deserve. Problems that our grandmothers and mothers had to deal with are being addressed today. Those who suffer the trauma of bad PMS and PMDD now have many sources of help available to them. Women need to know it’s perfectly acceptable to feel sad, angry, and anxious and be accepting of all the tumultuousness that accompany periods. And society at large, can work towards greater understanding of a fundamental issue. We are almost there. And that’s great news for all women!