We all live with this every month, yet we don’t know how to live with it well. And, yes, it is possible to do that. In fact, the women I work with tell me know how much they have learned to now love their PMS (seriously!). But it’s something we have to learn to do. We have to start making our lives revolve around our cycles--not the other way around. The days or weeks of the month when you have PMS and your menstrual cycle (which I like to call my “moon cycle”) are those days when you are your most vulnerable. Your body and soul are crying out for rest and TLC.
Usually PMS symptoms are signals to us that we’ve been ignoring this cry—for weeks, months, or even years. Case-in-point? A few months after my now live-in boyfriend and I started dating, I was at his house. We had an experience together that forced me to more religiously implement my own monthly “PMS Survival Kit.”
Feeling very tired and run down, as I was in the midst of my book launch, I decided that I wanted to take care of myself by going to bed early. I told him that if he wanted to go out with his friends (it was a Saturday night), that was fine with me. And I meant it. About an hour later he came into the bedroom, sweet as always, kissed me good night, and let me know he was going to go out.
And I felt my blood boil. I tried to fight my fury, as I knew it was completely irrational. The tiny part of me that wanted to be the center of attention—my own vulnerable inner, little girl, was talking. But she, and her anger won, squashing my inner reason. I sabotaged myself and said, “I’m going home.”
“What?” He was genuinely confused. “Why?”
“Nevermind,” I said icily, going frigid. I gathered my things and stormed out the door. He was confused at first, and then grew angry. We fought, and it was a big mess.
It turns out I had some even deeper lessons to learn about my cycles, which I had been working with very deeply for the past decade. I realized that I had to stay even more awake to the changing ways that PMS manifests in me—as my career was growing, and as I facing a very demanding point in my career. I realized had yet to learn how to make my partner my, well, partner in this process, not my enemy, the way that I had in past relationships.
Most importantly, I had not learned to fully surrender my rageful, wounded little girl self (who is so alive and active during PMS) to the Wise Woman (who is easily shoved aside during PMS) wisdom that I could so easily access at other times of the month.
I know I’m not alone in this—far from it. Most of us feel like different women during PMS. Maybe for you it’s sore breasts, bloating, migraines, lower back pain, skin break-outs, sugar cravings, depression, anxiety, or all of the above. And, of course, your partner often doesn’t see the bloating, or sense the depression, or really understand what happened to his sweet, loving woman.
But my internal Wise Woman understands. She has the power to hold space for my emotional self, for the darkness and depression and achiness that can accompany some cycles. And when she does that, the darkness and depression are transformed into inspiration and soulful rest.
This Wise Woman’s job is a lot easier when we give her some tools. That way, she can care for our wounded, more emotional self that emerges every 30 days or so. When I use my PMS Survival Kit monthly (and take good care of myself during the rest of the month too!), my cycles are (seriously) my deepest joy and greatest source of my womanly wisdom. While the journey to making peace with PMS is different for each of us, there are 5 things that I recommend for every woman to have as allies during “that time of the month.” 1. Get a mini crock pot.
A friend and colleague of mine gave this to me for my birthday, and now I don’t know how I ever lived without it! It helps you to keep healthy food warm when you’re on the go. Bring it to the office (to forgo using a microwave), in the car, or a hotel when you’re traveling. Eating warm, nourishing food (especially root vegetables, dark leafy greens, healthy fats like coconut and olive oil, and protein) is KEY to feeling better with PMS. 2. Load up on wise-woman herbs. Woman and herbs have been lovers for ages. Yet in our modern world we have become estranged from these earthly healers. Getting reacquainted with them can dramatically help you during your monthly duress. I recommend liquid tinctures of Vitex/Chaste Berry, as well as this “PMS Emotional: Radical Rescue Remedy” to get started.
3. Invest in a yoga bolster. I teach a weekly women’s yoga class here in Boulder, and some of the women have been known to bring their own bolsters during their PMS and moon cycles! Akin to a “grown-woman’s teddy bear,” a bolster offers you support and comfort when your body needs nurturing. Use it for time-outs when you feel irritable and overwhelmed. Treat yourself to more restorative yoga poses with your bolster before bed, during your lunch break, or at the end of your more vigorous practice. I also have a free Yoga for PMS audio class that you can use it with here.
4. Bring your hot water bottle. Another simple and ancient healing remedy for us ladies, a hot water bottle might just become your BFF during PMS. Fill it up and rest it on your belly when you’re in bed reading, watching TV, or sitting at your desk working. It helps to relax and soothe your belly and your womb. 5. Write in your journal. This is by far our most emotional time of the month. Give some space and movement to them by writing in your journal. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy. It’s just for you: stream-of-consciousness, don’t-let-your-pen-stop-moving. Just. Get. It. Out.
When you start to take better care of yourself during PMS and to become more aware of how it affects you, then your inner Wise Woman will show you that you’re the heroine, rather than a victim, of your hormones. This is not the time of the month to expect a lot of yourself. Dial down the ambition and turn up the pampering.
When you do that, you can transform the negative expressions of your PMS into cherished opportunities for deepening your wisdom, intuition, and self-care. Then you, too, will be one of those women who proclaims how much she loves her PMS.
If you would like more support with this, and navigating the rest of your cycle with grace, I’m teaching a 90-day online course about it soon. You can learn more here.
Happy PMS-ing, ladies ;)