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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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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!
  5. 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!

 


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Mindful eating habits for health

Retraining the mind to respond to the body’s hunger cues may seem like a daunting task, but actually begins with a few easy steps! Mindfulness-based eating techniques aid with managing and treating emotional eating, weight gain/loss, support energy and overall health.

Here are 6 tips to try today!

  1. Have an attitude of gratitude: Give thanks before each mealPracticing gratitude for food before consuming them is a technique to eat more mindfully.
  2. Be seated: sit in a comfortable position at a table
  3. Chew 30 times: (an arbitrary number) mindful chewing sends messages to the brain that the body is refuelling and well soon be full.
  4. No screens: Power down distractions during meals to fully focus on consuming your meal
  5. Portion food: Measure foods according to guides with reference to your goals and use smaller plates (to visually see that you are indeed consuming a plate-full of delicious food)Portion control helps cut calories and prevent overeating, in order to lose weight. A handful of berries is an excellent source of antioxidants.
  6. Stop when full: Don’t polish off plates, listen to hunger cues. Your body will start to naturally tell you when it doesn’t feel hungry anymore – it might start off as a whisper, listen to it!

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Reduce stress with breath work

In my private practice as well as for my personal wellbeing, I confidently support breathing to manage stress in both immediate and long-term triggers.

Here are a few techniques I often recommend as part of a wellness practice:

But first, just HOW do we breathe? Inhale, exhale, repeat. Easy enough, but did you know the WAY we breathe influences how our bodies respond to stress? For instance, in immediate danger, our heart rate quickens and we take short quick breaths; in calm and peaceful situations our breaths are deeper and slower. By mindfully altering the way we breathe, we can control our responses to situations, and therefore grounding ourselves and increasing our resilience to stress.

Breathing exercises promote stress relief, calmness, and mental clarity while decreasing anxiety

Let’s try an experiment together:

Start by sitting or laying down comfortably with your eyes closed (after you finish reading the post of course). Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Now take a deep breath. Which hand moves more?

If you said “the belly hand” – that’s great! You are a belly breather and you may pass Go and collect $200! Or just skip ahead to the tips; and the $200? Think of it like breathing is the currency for the body – the slower and deeper, the richer you are! (Super cheesy, but also super insightful. Pat on the back for me)

If you said “the chest hand” – at least you’re breathing (which is also great!) In order to take a deep, nourishing breath, we must create enough space for our lungs to expand. When this happens our diaphragm (a muscle used to facilitate breathing) pushes our guts downwards (thereby pushing our belly outwards) in order to create the most space available for our lungs to inhale. Think of it like blowing up a balloon. In order to collect the most air, there needs to be room for the balloon to expand.

How do I belly breathe?! Intention, focus, awareness. Allow your shoulders to drop and relax while you focus on filling your belly with air.

Belly breathing that is slow and rhythmic tells the brain that there is no immediate danger because the breathing is now slow, the rest of the body is then able to relax.

 

Here are some techniques you can try right now!

  1. 7-4-8 breathing

Start by inhaling through your nostrils for 7 seconds, pausing for 4 seconds, and exhaling for 8 slow seconds. Repeat. Longer exhales represent mindfully letting go of what does not serve our greater purpose in order to create space for new things that do serve us

2. Sweet 16 breaths

Like the 7-4-8 breathing, yet all stages of the breathing are the same number of seconds. Inhale through your nostrils for 4 seconds. Pause for 4 seconds. Exhale via pursed lips for 4 seconds. Pause for 4 seconds. Repeat.

 

Continue a daily mindful breathing practice for at least 2-3 times in a day and notice how your ability to handle life’s stressors improve! Just learn here how to relieve stress.

 

What are your favourite techniques? Comment below to let us know!


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