Once I heard a story about a woman who, walking down the street one day, saw a dead cat. Upon seeing the cat she began to cry, thinking about its owners who might be sad their cat is dead. Overcome by sadness she took some time to calm down and wipe the tears from her eyes. Only to realize it wasn’t a cat at all, but a stick. She’d been moved to tears by a stick. Such is the temporary madness of hormonal mood swings.
We’ve all had them, some more than others and usually in the week before our period starts. We excuse ourselves by explaining to our loved ones that it’s ‘just my hormones’. But exactly what hormones are we talking about? Many believe that mood swings are caused by the dip of estrogen and the rise in progesterone, characteristic of the pre-menstrual phase of the cycle. However, when women are given estrogen as a hormone therapy it only works for some women, not all.
What does work for all women is stopping periods altogether either naturally after menopause, during pregnancy, or prematurely by removing the ovaries. For some women, stopping periods with hormonal contraceptives works. But as these hormonal treatments are not reliable across all women, it’s hard to say that it’s JUST our hormones. If that were the case every woman would have mood swings, every cycle. But we don’t.
Perhaps a better way to look at it is to see this dip of estrogen and rise in progesterone as highlighting issues we’ve already have going on. It’s pretty rare that a mood swing is totally random. Perhaps you shouted at someone on the train for stepping on your toe because every day, someone shoves or pokes you on the train to work and you normally do nothing. Perhaps you cried when you saw a cute baby because really you’re quite broody. I used to brush off my mood swings, but every month I’d get the same stuff coming up. Since embracing my mood swings, I’ve been able to talk through my issues with the people I love the most and resolve them each month. What was once a disempowering slip of the tongue has become the strength of my menstrual cycle I wouldn’t want to be without. My premenstrual time is now a creative, intuitive, problem solving time.
Here are my top tips for embracing your mood swings:
- Keep a record of what pushed your buttons and why. Come back to it another day (preferably after your period) when the hormone wave has subsided.
- Create your own happy period self-care ritual. I make boxes for this, which includes a calming tea, bath salts, a candle, and much more. If you take the time to indulge in some R&R each week, you’ll be less likely to lose your shi** when you get premenstrual.
- Drink lime blossom and rose tea. They’re good for relaxing muscles, comforting the soul, and helping people who give out more than they take back for themselves.
- Eat low glycemic index snacks like rice cakes to help abate the highs and lows of premenstrual blood sugar which only increases the likelihood that you’ll find it tricky to control your emotions.
- Get a good night sleep. Learn more about sleep hygiene in my article to help get some great sleep. When you’re tired you’re more likely to get upset even if you’re not experiencing pre-menstrual hormone changes.
Written By: Natasha Richardson, Medical Herbalist
Member of the Kali Girl Tribe.