Promoting mental health throughout your cycle
Mental and reproductive health is intimately linked. From fluctuations in your moods, sex drive and self confidence, reproductive hormones can impact your emotions in both negative and positive ways.
For example, studies have shown that anxiety about appearance and negative body-related thoughts increase dramatically during the menstrual phase. This can be accompanied by symptoms of depression and fatigue, potentially linked to a drop in the happiess hormone, serotonin, during PMS. During ovulation, on the other hand, you may feel more positive, confident and connected to others.
Whether mental health changes are caused by your cycle or not, it's important to remember that they are real and valid. Here are 5 top tips for taking care of your mental health throughout your cycle:1. Track your cycle
Tracking your menstrual cycle can be a crucial step in recognizing mental health changes and promoting your wellbeing. It help you understand when to expect certain mood changes, PMS symptoms and period pains throughout the month.
By anticipating these changes, you can prioritize self care and ask for help when you need it most. You can get started with a tracking app like Cycles to help you predict your phases and keep a log of your symptoms so you know what to expected and when.
2. Start a daily exercise regimen
From yoga and walking to high intensity training, adding regular activity to your schedule can dramatically reduce PMS symptoms, boost your mental health and improve your overall sense of well-being.
3. Get quality sleep every night
Getting a good night's sleep on the regular is a vital part of good mental health. A lack of sleep can lead to reduced energy, negative thoughts and a worsening of PMS symptoms. If you struggle to get a good night's rest, these sleep hygiene steps can go a long way:
- Be sure to spend time outside every day
- Avoid using your phone before bed
- Read or take a warm shower before bed to relax your mind and body
- Avoid caffeine after 2pm
- Prioritize a strict sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day
4. Practice mindfulness techniquesMindfulness allows you to be more in conscious about your emotions, relationships and the world around you. It's a helpful tool to process emotions and feel more at peace, especially during times of stress. You can practice mindfulness in many ways from journaling to deep breathing, or even attending a mindfulness class.
5. Eat a balanced diet
Foods rich in vitamins and minerals help to regulate hormones, boost energy and your mood. Alongside choosing healthy foods and drinking enough water regularly, be sure to regulate your intake of salt, caffeine and alcohol, as these can worsen your mood and cause a dip in energy levels.
When to ask for help
If you suffer from cycle-related anxiety and depression that affects your daily life, this may be a sign of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). If this sounds familiar, you might benefit from a conversation with your doctor, or someone close to you that you trust. Whether through medicine or lifestyle changes, support and treatment is available.Being tuned in to your body can go a long way in promoting your mental health throughout your cycle. It allows you to acknowledge, accept and manage mental health changes in your cycle, and in some cases, can help you recognize more serious concerns, allowing you to get the help that you need.
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