Ever have those days where you feel like an alien has taken over your body and your mind. That you’re somewhere in there but just out of reach. That you can’t control your thoughts, or what comes out of your mouth? I call that alien ‘hormones.’ I woke up this morning and my first thoughts were deeply destructive.
I had run an online yoga class the previous evening for a group of dear clients and had experienced a few irritating tech issues at the beginning of class. Instead of taking it for what it was – an unfortunate and fleeting logistics problem, in those moments I instead berated myself for the error. ‘They hated it’, ‘I bet they were so annoyed’ I told myself, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t be doing this’ and so on…
I was feeling bloated, sluggish and in discord with my body. I just wanted, more than anything, to curl up and stay in bed all day and avoid facing the world. I knew it was because I was due to get my period, but in those first few minutes of coming round the alien intruder was stronger than any rational thought – and was clearly winning.
At this point in our cycle, where our oestrogen and progesterone levels have dropped to their lowest point we can feel depleted, tired and emotional. For me, that can sometimes mean a tendency to be hard on myself.
‘I don’t know if I can do this today’, I thought.
But life has to happen, children have to be fed and work has to be done. So I dug deep.
And this is what I did. Over time, through trial and error I have cultivated and can recommend these five quick and easy practices to soothe PMS symptoms – both mental and physical, or at times of depletion. I promise they will shift the energy of your entire day and give the intruder the kick that is needed to move on and out of your head!
- Always start with Kindness. Be kind to yourself and as generous as you possibly can. I usually drink cleansing lemon water first thing but on a day like today, I knew I needed something more. I took a little extra time and made myself a milky chai latte, sweetened with raw honey for energy and full of nourishing spices to energise and soothe inflammation. It felt like a hug in mug, a hug I desperately needed.
- Breathe.Slowing down and focusing on the breath for just a few minutes might not rid the alien completely, but it will help to silence it. As I drank my tea, I took a few minutes to focus on my breath. My go to ritual is to breathe deeply through the nose and into the belly to a count of three, then exhale from the belly up for four or even five counts, as slowly as I can. Doing this 5 or 6 times will calm the nervous system and activate the rational part of the brain, so you can bring your thoughts back to a balanced place.
- Move.When you feel like curling up in bed for the rest of the day, the last thing you want to do is a run or a gym workout. And why would you? At this point in our cycle, our energy levels are at their lowest. So unless you feel like breaking a sweat will support your needs for the day, choose something gentle, like stretching, a soothing yoga flow, or a walk outside. As you move, try to notice the sensations you feel, what you hear and see around you, absorbing the additional benefits of mindfulness. This might be for just ten minutes if that’s all the time you have, but taking this time will shift the energy in both your body and mind, helping you to feel more positive and to tackle the day ahead.
- Affirmation.There’s no doubt about it, the alien is a stubborn creature and I often find it will still choose to rear its head later in the day. For me, there have been times I haven’t even known it until it’s happened until I snap at my husband (and then feel immediate remorse). Recognise the signs. And my absolute invaluable tool. Use a mantra, or short phrase that will bring you back to calm. When I feel like this, I choose something like ‘I am calm’ or ‘I am safe and loved’ and carry it with me throughout the day, repeating it in my head when I feel my emotions taking me over. Combined with one long deep breath, this will help stop destructive interactions or thoughts as you navigate through this part of your cycle.
- Ask for support. I used to feel embarrassed asking for help during this time, after all we all go through it and it’s every single month. But mentioning you are feeling low on energy or if, like me you have a young family some requesting a little time alone to care for yourself is going to have a better outcome for your day and probably theirs too. If you can, state your needs and take that time. And non-essential tasks, well – they can wait. This is a time to prioritise you.
Your mind and your body and will thank you for it.
Sara Teeman is a Women’s Wellbeing Coach, Yoga & Holistic Bellydance Teacher and a mother to 3 children 5 and under. She helps women find balance, vitality and lasting wellbeing in motherhood and beyond. Find her on IG @sarateeman_wellbeing
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