Do you find yourself feeling way more anxious right before your period? It’s a fairly common trait in the lead up to shark week, yet, hardly anyone is talking about it. It’s time to unravel exactly why you experience more anxiety when you’re due on.
You’ve heard of classic PMS symptoms haven’t you? In fact, you’ve probably been experiencing at least some of them every month since you were a teenager. The bloating, the mood swings, the hunger, the… anxiety? Well, yes – anxiety does fall into the PMS category.
That week before your period might have you aflutter with feelings of angst, self doubt and worry. When you understand that anxiety can fall into PMS territory, it’s easy to say “oh well, it’s a hormonal thing” and just put up with it. But I propose there is a better solution.
Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle
If you’ve heard me speak about the menstrual cycle before you’ll know there’s way more to it than periods and PMS. Likely if you’re a someone who bleeds, you’ll know at least something about the menstrual cycle. I guess we come to relate it mostly to periods though. Either you’re on your period, or your not. Period = no baby. No period = baby. But there’s actually way more to it than that.
There are actually 4 phases to your menstrual cycle. They are:
Through each of these phases different hormones are released by your body, which can cause changes in your mood.
Through the first 2 phases of the cycle, your body is prioritising the production of oestrogen. It steadily rises to a peak at ovulation. This is important to note because with a rise in oestrogen comes a rise in serotonin. Serotonin is the happy hormone. As it rises, it lifts your mood.
Once ovulation is over, your body reduces oestrogen production and prioritises progesterone instead. Progesterone is there to support a potential pregnancy. So it’s a pretty big deal when it comes to the continuation of the human race.
Remember, there is a link between oestrogen and serotonin. So, when your oestrogen levels are lower, so are your serotonin levels. This can mean your mood is not as spritely as it was during the first half of your cycle.
If you’re prone to anxiety, it can really show up after ovulation. Those lower serotonin levels can cause you to feel more anxious than usual. If you’ve ever suffered with anxiety, you’ll know that those anxious thoughts can easily spiral out of control if you’re not careful to keep them in check.
I can always tell when I’m going through this phase of my cycle because I start to get snappy, impatient and generally just feel very overwhelmed. I know I’m not alone in this, I’m sure you feel this too. It’s really quite common.
So, you might be thinking “well, that’s great, but what can I do about it?”. I personally think awareness is a major factor here. Knowing how your body works and why you feel the way you do can really help.
Tracking Your Cycle
Tracking your cycle daily, and jotting down your general mood for each day can help you identify patterns that crop up regularly. If you’re more aware of how you’re likely to feel through each stage of your cycle, you can prepare and plan accordingly. I created a free menstrual cycle tracking sheet to make your cycle tracking practise as simple as possible. You can find it at the bottom of this post.
If you clear some time to do more relaxing during the premenstrual phase, you’re giving yourself time and space to stop that anxiety from building. Take more time to go for walks, or to meditate, or to do things that make you feel good. A little kindness towards yourself can pay off in big ways when you’re feeling uneasy.
Likewise, if you know something is really going to stress you out, it might be worth putting it off until you’re feeling more confident. The first half of the cycle is the perfect time to do things that require you to feel a bit more courageous. Once you’ve tracked your cycle for a few months, you’ll get super good at knowing when your confident days are likely to crop up.
Enter your details to get the free menstrual cycle tracking sheet, and start identifying where anxiety shows up for you each cycle. It’s all about getting to know yourself and your body better.