6 Self-care Habits That Ease PMS Symptoms

These remedies can help you fight pre-period symptoms.

The whole point of self care is to look after your own needs—so you feel happier and healthier and function at your best. And really, is there any more crucial time to give yourself some extra TLC than in the days before your period?

One 2016 study reported that about 85% of people who get periods of reproductive age experience one or more PMS symptoms, including cramps, fatigue, bloating, fogginess, trouble sleeping, and mood changes.

How To Help Relieve PMS Symptoms

While there's no cure-all to keep these hormone-induced changes at bay, there are some self-care efforts you can take to relieve PMS. These six habits should help you feel a whole lot better until your flow begins and your hormones go on the upswing again.

Eat Protein and Fat

Studies have shown that during the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle, which starts with the release of the egg at ovulation and ends when a period begins, you may experience an amped-up appetite.

That increased appetite, plus PMS exhaustion and irritability might be making you crave sugar. But too much sugar can make symptoms worse, causing your energy to spike and then crash and affecting your mood, cognition, and even bloat level.

“[PMS week] is often a time when we load up on the carbs, which is actually counter-productive and worsens our bloating," said Nikki Walden, MD, ob-gyn at BodyLogicMD in Dallas.

A great option is a hearty, satisfying meal with lots of protein and good fats—like a veggie omelet, poke bowl, chicken on a bed of greens, or a yogurt and avocado smoothie. Protein plus healthy fats (like omega-3s) will decrease inflammation and reduce muscle cramps, while the whole grains have a good amount of protein and magnesium to relax your body and manage stress levels.

Have an Orgasm (Or Two, or Three)

Sex can be a good distraction and mood-booster, but there's more to it than that. Touching and being touched by your partner can help calm frazzled nerves, and having an orgasm will flood your brain with oxytocin, the hormone responsible for feelings of comfort and pleasure, said Alyse Kelly-Jones, MD, ob-gyn at Novant Health Mintview Obstetrics and Gynecology in North Carolina.

Not partnered up at the moment, or have a spouse who is unavailable? PMS relief can come from your vibrator or by giving yourself a hand.

Work Out in Your Favorite Gym Class

It might be the last place you want to go, but you’ll be happy after a sweaty workout you know you love. “30 minutes a day of moderate-intensity exercise may help improve mood and overall sense of well-being,” said Dr. Walden, thanks to the release of mood-boosting endorphins.

So even if you're dragging and want to bag yoga or dance class, do your best to get yourself there anyway; think of it as a treat that you know will make you feel better fast. You can get lots of rest in, too.

Snack on Almonds

These superstar nuts are loaded with magnesium, which can reduce cramping and alleviate tension, said Dr. Walden. Keep a bowl of them at your desk at work to munch on, or go with other magnesium-rich foods such as edamame, pumpkin seeds, and leafy greens like spinach. If you're not feeling snacky, popping 400 milligrams of magnesium citrate during each PMS day can do the trick, said Dr. Walden.

Take a Long, Hot Bath

Heat makes everything feel better, and that goes for PMS-related cramps and tension as well. For even more relief, add Epsom salt to the steamy water. The magnesium in the salt will relax sore muscles and make your body feel happier overall, said Dr. Walden.

Tuck Yourself in Early

Sleep problems during PMS days are a common complaint. But if there's one time when you should really make an effort not to stay up binging on Netflix, it's during your pre-period days—when hormonal changes are messing with your energy level. A solid seven to eight hours of sleep will help you feel refreshed.

“Sleep is a natural mood restorer; when we get into REM sleep, our body can begin to repair itself to take on the next day,” said Dr. Kelly-Jones, referring to the sleep stage that's associated with learning and memory. That means repairing PMS-related muscle soreness as well, added Dr. Kelly-Jones.

A Quick Review

The symptoms of PMS such as fatigue, mood changes, and food cravings can make life a little bit more difficult. But these six self-care strategies can help with your PMS symptoms and get you feeling back to yourself soon enough.

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5 Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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