Most of us deeply dread that time of the month when we're keeled over with cramps, bothered by bloating, and plagued by PMS. A painful period can be extremely debilitating, and most of us would do anything to find ways to make our periods less miserable. Although there are some aspects we just can't change, there are a number of symptoms we can reduce by taking the proper steps to ensure our body is an optimal shape.
In addition to feeling super uncomfortable during your actual period, 75 percent of women also experience PMS symptoms leading up to their period, including abdominal pain, headaches, unpleasant moods, breast tenderness, and back pain, according to PubMed Health. These symptoms can be so bad that people often have to miss work or school to deal with them, and no one wants to let their Aunt Flow so greatly disturb their life that they have to miss out on important things.
Luckily, if you pick up the right habits, your period doesn't have to be so insanely awful. If you're so over those nasty PMS symptoms and just want to feel like a functioning human being during that time of the month, consider these eight tips to help make your period less miserable.
1. Get Enough Sleep
"During sleep, your body is able to repair some of the DNA that has been damaged during the course of the day, allowing you to be more productive and often less moody," says Nicole E. Williams, M.D., FACOG over email. According to Everyday Health, women who stay up late and sleep through the morning report increased PMS symptoms, including mood swings.
2. Change Your Diet
"If you're eating junk food on the go every day and have a terrible period, it's not a surprise," says Williams. "Change your diet to include green leafy vegetables, salmon, and whole grains. Try also to avoid processed foods, as those toxins may make a bad period even worse."
Research published in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery research found that eight weeks of regular aerobic exercise significantly reduced symptoms of PMS in young women. "We know that the 'runner's high' involves a release of endorphins, which helps to elevate mood," says Williams. "Yoga positions and other stretching can also work to help loosen the pelvic muscles and decrease cramping."
4. Take Some Vitamins
In addition to a healthy diet, supplementing your eating with certain vitamins can help alleviate pains associated with your period. "B vitamins are known to help decrease anemia from heavy bleeding and can also help with PMS symptoms," says Williams. "Calcium and magnesium work to alleviate muscle contractions, and therefore may work in reducing cramps."
5. Eliminate Stress
"If you're in a high-stress environment, your period may become irregular and unpredictable," says Williams. "By engaging in stress reduction activities such as meditation, Tai-Chi, mindfulness, acupuncture, or any other stress reducing activities, your period may become more regular and you will probably suffer less from PMS."
6. Ditch The Caffeine
If you're a fan of that morning cup of joe, you may want to give it a rest while you're menstruating. Caffeine may actually exacerbate uncomfortable symptoms of your period, according to Livestrong. Because caffeine is a stimulant, it can increase tension in the body and even worsen anxiety, so it's best to ditch the drink when you're on your cycle.
7. Drink Some Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea has been used as an herbal sedative for centuries, but research agrees that the drink is good for alleviating period pains such as menstrual cramps, according to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The drink helps naturally elevate levels of glycine, a chemical that relieves muscle spasms and relaxes the uterus.
8. Drink Lots Of Water
Staying hydrated during your period is especially important, as water can help prevent bloating and even help keep your mood up, according to research from the Journal of Nutrition. Hot water, like tea, can help ease your muscles and reduce cramps.
Everyone has different levels of period pain, but if yours have become unbearable, consult with your doctor to find the best treatment tailored to you.
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