Try these swaps to reduce period anxiety
Cycle-related anxiety exists – here’s why and how to manage it.
We can probably all relate to the physical symptoms associated with our menstrual cycles – period fatigue, premenstrual cramping (enter, our period patch), nausea, headaches; the loose stools and vagina aches when you’re bleeding; even the occasional ovulation energy high (we live for those). But physical symptoms can also manifest in more mental or emotional ways too. Which is why cycle-related anxiety during your menstrual phases is An Actual Thing, and we’re here to tell you: it’s okay and there are ways to manage the severe anxiety symptoms.
What does period anxiety feel like?
That flight or fight feeling that often flares up in physical situations is also triggered by increased anxiety. This panic kick starts your sympathetic nervous system, which is why you might start to feel those involuntary responses like increased breathing or shortness of breath, thanks to your body pumping more oxygen around your body and a more rapid release of hormones into your bloodstream. The hormonal fluctuations could manifest in increased heart rate, feeling short of breath or hyperventilating, trembling, sweating, weakness or tiredness, trouble sleeping or having a sense of severe worry or impending danger.
Why can increased anxiety sometimes flare up during the menstrual cycle?
Here we can talk about what is progesterone, and what is estrogen, two important hormones. ICYMI, hormones really fluctuate during your cycle, namely estrogen and progesterone which rise and fall throughout. Particularly these hormonal fluctuations happen during the luteal phase, when your estrogen hormone level drops and your progesterone hormone level peaks then drops just before menstruation, this hormonal imbalance can impact your serotonin and dopamine levels, which are linked to the female body's mood regulation.
What can I do to manage cycle-related anxiety?
Breathing exercises can really help with anxiety and your mental health because one of the physical symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder is increased heart rate or shortness of breath. Box breathing can regulate your heart rate. Sit upright and feel free to close your eyes or keep a soft gaze. Inhale for four breaths, then hold the breath at the top for four more. Exhale for four and hold the breath at the bottom for four. Repeat until you start to feel your heart rate slow down and anxiety symptoms fade.
Yes, coffee is great for tired souls but high levels of caffeine can have the same psychological symptoms as stress or anxiety. This can include dizziness, increased heart rate and even gastrointestinal problems (the urge to run to the toilet after the first sip is real). Try swapping out coffee for herbal tea or chicory, which is rich in antioxidants, and thanks to its sedative quality has been known to reduce anxiety and stress.
Co-founder Liv really enjoys a custom Raspberry blend.
2 parts raspberry leaf
1 part nettle leaf
1 part dandelion
3 parts chamomile - which helps nourish the body and calm the nervous system
I have three cups a day of this blend during the week leading up to my bleed.
Gentle practices like restorative yoga can put your body in a parasympathetic (read: calm) state. Less stretching and sweating; more grounding and relaxing. Try coming into a wide-legged child’s pose (knees wide, toes touching), resting your forehead on the ground (or a block/book/pillow) and placing your arms in front of you. Rolling the forehead from temple to temple can help calm and soothe you.
Check out more restorative stretch poses you can try here.
Your hormones can be complex and unpredictable. That’s why we’re here, on The Regular, to do what’s long overdue - to demystify what’s going on with our reproductive systems, our hormones and our whole cycle.
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