Promoting mental health throughout your cycle
Your mental health should be just as important as your physical health.
Throughout your cycle, your moods naturally change, as they do for most people. Some reproductive hormones can impact your state of mind more than others and aggravate negative feelings or worsen upsetting situations.
How your menstrual cycle can affect your mental health
Everyone’s natural mental state fluctuates and differs from day-to-day and person-to-person. While your menstrual cycle may impact your mood, it is often not the sole reason for changes in your mental health throughout the month. Each woman is different in how she experiences her cycle and the hormones that come with it. Therefore, it is hard to categorize how the menstrual cycle can affect a person’s mental health.
Instead, treat it as yet another good reason to take care of yourself and continue making all the necessary steps towards a healthier state of mind.
Steps towards mental health
By practising healthy habits, you can assist your body, and mind in balancing your hormones and improve your mental health at all times of your cycle.
1. Track your cycle
Tracking your menstrual cycle is a crucial step in recognizing, identifying and promoting your mental health. Doing so can help you understand when you can expect certain mood changes, PMS symptoms and period pains throughout the month. Then, while anticipating these changes, you can adjust your plans or schedule more time to take care of yourself when you need it most. You can get started with a menstrual tracking app like Cycles which will help you predict PMS, track symptoms, fertile and period days by simply inputting the dates of your last period.
2. Start a daily exercise regimen
Regular exercise is not only great at boosting your mood in general, it also helps regulate your hormones, reduces the severity of PMS symptoms and helps treat mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. If you start a daily exercise routine today, even if it is just walking for 30 minutes a day, you’ll immediately notice positive changes in your mental and physical health.
3. Get quality sleep every night
Making time to sleep well and long enough every night is an important step towards mental health. Not sleeping well can lead to reduced energy, negative thoughts and only further aggravate symptoms of your cycle. Of course, it goes both ways, depression and anxiety can lead to less sleep as well. But making a little effort to get better sleep can make a big difference in your well being, some good sleep habits include:
- Get enough sunlight during the day
- Avoid using electronics (ie. your phone) before bed (2 hours before preferably)
- Do relaxing activities before bed like reading or taking a hot shower
- Avoid consuming caffeine after 2 pm
- Get into a strict schedule (go to bed and wake up at the same time)
4. Practice mindfulness techniques
Mindfulness, put simply, is the action of watching your thoughts and feelings come and go, while taking a curious and accepting approach. The more you practice being aware of your own experiences, the better you can respond to them. As a form of meditation, there are mindfulness classes available to help you get started. And, while you can sit and practice mindfulness meditation, it can also turn into a way of better understanding yourself on a daily basis.
5. Eat a balanced diet
Unhealthy and processed foods cause your body and brain to become imbalanced. While on the other hand, healthy options like fruits, vegetables, leafy greens and whole grains regulate hormones, boost energy and your mood. Alongside choosing healthy foods and drinking enough water regularly, be sure to avoid hormone aggravators such as too much caffeine, sugar and alcohol.
When to ask for help
If you’re suffering from depression, anxiety, or other symptoms that impact your ability to function normally in your everyday life, seek help or guidance from a professional. In some cases, severe PMS may be a sign of Premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD which is a chronic condition that requires additional treatment and professional attention.
Being tuned in to your body and aware of your own consciousness can go a long way in promoting your mental health throughout your cycle. It can help you acknowledge, accept and deal with regular cycle symptoms or emotional side effects of your thoughts and feelings. In some cases, it can help you recognize more serious concerns and allow you to get the help that you need.