It's an understatement to say that we often feel not-so-hot during that time of the month, as the period blues can definitely get us down and make us feel less confident and enthusiastic than usual. Thus, it is important to stay energized during your period and try and fight an irritable mood as best as possible in order to keep our overall happiness and wellbeing in check.
As a certified health coach, I work with my female clients to combat the symptoms of PMS and the tiredness, cramping, and irritability that they may experience at the time of the month. Firstly, I usually suggest looking into birth control or contraceptive methods, as they can often lessen the symptoms and duration of the grand ol' flow, says Joanne Piscitelli, MD, associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University in Durham, N.C. in interview with Health. I recommend speaking to a physician to discuss brands and types that might work for their body types and lifestyles. Secondly, we work on staying upbeat, gaining energy and stabilizing mood and imbalanced emotions in order to prevent symptoms from interfering in our ability to concentrate and be productive at work, enjoy valuable relationships, and feel more like our natural selves. Look for these 11 ways to feel more energized and happier during your period, so that you don't need to feel so low each month.
1. Get In A Workout
While working out too intensely might be tough on muscles —research shows that our bodies are more prone to exercise injuries during our periods, says Timothy E. Hewett, Ph.D. to Shape — getting in a quick, moderate-low intensity sweat session could help give us energy. "Exercise, as much as it might sound awful during your period, is so important to help blood flow, hormones, energy and bloating," certified healthy lifestyle coach, Liz Traines, tells me over email.
2. Have A Little Caffeine
Caffeine, in moderation, can boost our energy levels and spirits, making us more mentally alert, creative and productive at work. Have a cup or two of coffee or a square of dark chocolate, the latter which also has mood-boosting hormones from higher serotonin levels, as shown in a study by Mary Engler of the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing, and stop consuming caffeine around 3 or 4 p.m. to prevent it from interfering with circadian sleep rhythms and our abilities to fall asleep. Keep chocolate dark, with at least 60 percent cocoa content, and stick to one or two squares.
3. Get Moving Outside
A series of studies published in the Journal Of Environmental Psychology in 2010 showed that taking a walk outside can give us energy, as it's a way to connect with nature and open the body up to a new, rich supply of oxygen and promote healthy breathing and rest. Plus, the circulation from the walk can boost energy and increase mental alertness in the brain, which in turn can get us ready to buckle down on our next work task and stick with it, distraction-free.
4. Stick With Your Usual Diet
Sticking with your usual diet is a great way to stay energized, less bloated, and happier during your period. Just because you've reached the week, it doesn't mean it should be any different than the other three. "Try to keep eating a normal diet as possible," advises Traines. "We may have chocolate cravings or salty cravings, and it's OK to let yourself give in a bit, but don't make your period an excuse to eat poorly. It will make you feel worse, zap your energy and increase bloating," she says.
5. Take A Quick Nap
Taking a quick nap, roughly about 10 to 20 minutes, in the middle of the day (make sure it's not after 4pm, as it can interfere with our ability to fall asleep later in the evening, says Dr. Frank Lipman on his blog), to get an immediate burst of energy after and wake up feeling refreshed and inspired, as told by Michael Breus, Ph.D. to Huffington Post. Taking naps can also make us more creative, and that creative nature could be great for a grueling work task that needs some new character.
6. Drink Lots Of Water
Experts at WebMD say that staying hydrated will help you stay energized, avoid cravings, and have a stable, balanced mood throughout the day. If the body is dehydrated, it might make you feel more sluggish and less able to concentrate. Have a bottle of water with you at all times to stay hydrated and cool throughout the day.
7. Consume Foods High In Magnesium
According to Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D. over interview with Huffington Post, magnesium can help relax muscles and provide sustainable energy, both of which can come in handy during a period. It can beat fatigue and make us feel more emotionally balanced and happier, two things that are definitely needed during this time. Enjoy a banana as a snack, or have nuts, whole grains, such as quinoa, brown rice, or oats, avocado, and leafy greens, such as spinach and kale.
8. Eat Throughout The Day
Instead of having three large meals, nibble throughout the day and enjoy small meals more frequently in order to keep mood and energy levels stable. When our bodies are hungry, we go into starvation mode, which can make us irritable, tired, and sore. Thus, minimizing such occurrences can make a period easier and more tolerable overall. Eat foods high in magnesium, protein, healthy complex carbohydrates and healthy fats for greater health benefits, says Megan Mullin, a nutritionist at Canyon Ranch SpaClub in Las Vegas to Everyday Health.
9. Consume Healthy Fats
According to Dr. Andrew Weil M.D., healthy fats can reduce inflammation in the body, which can contribute to excess bloating, stress, muscle soreness, lack of sleep, and poor digestive health, among other things. By eating healthy fats, such as oily fish, avocado, nuts and nut butter, olive oil, coconut oil and grass-fed, lean meats, you'll be better able to soothe the body and boost mood. Healthy fats have also been shown to boost the mood, especially omega 3s, which contain high levels of serotonin.
10. Take Supplements
If you are having trouble sleeping, taking a melatonin supplement of 3 mg a night could help you fall asleep faster and thus wake up feeling more energized and alert the following day. Furthermore, popping magnesium and calcium could help eliminate sore muscles and fatigue, and a fish oil supplement could help minimize depressive symptoms during the week, according to Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D. at Mayo Clinic.
11. Take It For What It Is
We all know what our individual period experiences feel like, so instead of fighting with your body's natural tendencies, go with the flow (so to speak). Keep a calendar so you know when you're expecting, and acknowledge symptoms as being temporary. If you remember that weight and mood fluctuations, soreness, and fatigue are not permanent, then you'll be better able to combat these issues and stay composed, confident, energized, and happy.
When that time of the month hits, don't freak out. Remember that it's natural to feel symptoms and that you have the power to overcome them with a few lifestyle habits, a fairly normal schedule regarding diet, exercise and sleep, and a positive outlook. It'll be over sooner than you think!
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