5 Tips for Boosting Productivity During PMS
Breast tenderness, bloating, and cramps make functioning at work difficult enough. Throw in cravings, low energy, mental fog, and mood swings, and you’ve got the recipe for feeling like an unproductive sludge. If you’re reading this right now, and you happen to be a female who menstruates/has previously menstruated, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Most of us have experienced these episodes before yet, know exactly how it can affect daily motivation. If this sounds like you, stay on with me as we uncover how to boost productivity during PMS. First, let’s talk about what PMS is and then some at-home remedies you can do to improve your productivity (especially during that week before your flow).
What is PMS:
Premenstrual syndrome, experienced by most women of reproductive age, has symptoms of irritability, mood swings, weight gain, water retention, breast tenderness, bloating, cravings, difficulty sleeping, and fatigue. Discomfort is characterized during the luteal phase (second half of the cycle. How (and how long) women experience PMS varies where some may have a few symptoms for a couple of days before their period to others who have increased discomfort that substantially affects their daily lives.
What is PMDD
Some women experience significant physical, mental, and emotional distress in the last few days to weeks before their period, known as Premenstrual Dysmorphic Disorder. Symptoms consist of marked depression, low mood, anxiety, tension or feeling on edge, moodiness, tearfulness, irritability, easily fatigued, low interested in usual activities, distinct changes in appetite and sleep patterns.
PMS (and/or) PMDD kick in during the luteal stage; some women may even experience symptoms or discomfort as early as 2 weeks before their expected periods. Mood swings, irritability, bloating, and fatigue can really derail the productivity train if a significant chunk of the month is spent feeling moody and unmotivated. Over my years in practice working with women with PMS and PMDD I discovered that rather than working against the symptoms, it’s easier to recognize the patterns of PMS and take steps to prevent life from drowning in symptoms. Here are my top 5 tips for improving motivation and productivity during PMS.
5 tips to reducing symptoms + improve productivity during the luteal days
- EXERCISE! – Move that awesome, strong body of yours, girl! If you’re new to physical activity, or lack motivation, start with a 5 min walk break. Move around the room if you have to, get that blood flowing! Consistent aerobic exercise 3 times a week for 8 weeks reduces the severity of the physical symptoms of PMS. If aerobic exercise isn’t always your jam, yoga for 40 min a day 3 times a week for a month is another effective strategy to reduce symptoms of PMS.
- CUT THE SUGARS: Specifically, maltose. A recent study suggests that increased consumption of maltose (formed when two glucose molecules come together) is associated with the risk of developing PMS. Maltose is naturally produced in plants and seeds but high amounts can be found in bread, cereals, burgers, pizzas, pies, and more. Sweet potato also has maltose but one can argue that the nutritional benefits of a sweet potato outweigh its risk. Another study found that western diet patterns consisting of processed fast foods and soft drinks were associated with PMS compared to diets that had more nuts, fruits, and low processed foods did.
- VITAMIN D: Higher doses of vitamin D significantly reduced PMS in women as well as symptoms of dysmenorrhea like backache. **Note: Always talk to your naturopath or trusted health care provider before taking high doses of vitamin D! You can read more about vitamin D and hormones in my last article here!
- MINDFULNESS: Mindfulness-based practices like mediation (and yoga!) is associated with the reduction of anxiety and depression experienced by women with PMS. Try journaling your feelings, emotions, and thoughts that come up for you during your luteal phase and note if any patterns surface. Check-in with yourself daily and remember to speak to yourself kindly – you deserve it!
- SCHEDULE: But make it super easy and not hectic at all! Write out your top 3 priorities (or less) to complete in the day and break your day into small chunks of uninterrupted time, remembering to take breaks (to move around!) in between. Keeping your to-do list on the lighter side can offset some of the unmotivating effects of PMS (like fatigue, low energy, and irritability). Take naps when you need them because resting is okay! Try to schedule your busiest days for the first half of your cycle where you have the energy to effortlessly tackle your tasks.
PMS is experienced by many premenopausal women and symptoms range in severity as each woman endures a unique collection of symptoms. Being a woman doesn’t require that we put our lives and productivity on hold each month; re-inventing our schedules that support our health needs, eating well and consistent exercise helps us to be a productive badass woman! Try these tips yourself and when you notice improvement, share the article with other boss women in your life!