In part I of this PMS & depression series, I talked all about the possibilities of healing foods for PMS blues. Feeling down or sad just before your period is very common and is in fact a sure sign that something might be out of balance in your body. The good news is that along with food, there are also other things we can try to reduce the premenstrual blahs.
I want to focus on 3 other key potential health solutions to address this issue naturally that I use with my clients and have found great success.
Exercise as if your life depended on it! There is research supporting that exercise can actually be more effective than antidepressants in dealing with depression.
A study completed at Duke University compared the antidepressant effects of aerobic exercise training to the popular antidepressant medicine sertraline, in addition to a PLACEBO (sugar pill). They randomized depressed patients to one of the three interventions and discovered that after only four months approximately 40% of the subjects were no longer depressed.
Those who exercised or received the medicine had a higher and comparable response rates, but they were only slightly better than the placebo group. Those who exercised at a moderate level (approximately 40 minutes three to five days per week) experienced the greatest antidepressant effect.
Exercise gets our blood flowing to our brain, heart pumping and best of all, endorphins flowing. Endorphins are the body’s very own natural anti-depressant. A lot of women are prescribed antidepressants to manage their low-mood, anxiety and depression around their period, which does not address the root cause often caused by insufficient serotonin and low progesterone.
Endorphins act similarly to serotonin and help to enhance our mood and even allow us to FEEL HAPPIER. Anyone who’s made it past the initial grind of running knows about the RUNNER’S HIGH. Running, weight lifting and yoga are my go-to activities and totally get me in my BLISSED out, FEEL GOOD zone, especially if I’m battling a bad bout of low-mood PMS.
I know a lot of women who hate exercise and I think a lot of this is due to not doing a physical activity they enjoy. If you find something you love, it won’t feel forced and you’ll be more consistent in engaging in it. Experiment and try out different activities. Whether it’s running, yoga, swimming, dancing or whatever your love for exercise is, choose anything that sparks your body to get moving.
2.) Light Therapy
Embrace the light…. Light therapy is a technique that has been used for decades in treating and addressing feeling low as a result of PMS. In the spring/summer months this is obviously much easier to do. The sun is shining and ready to give us energy at our given will. During the winter months however, this is a lot more difficult. Exposing ourselves to the sun, even just as a little as 10-15 minutes a day at mid-morning to noon allows our body to produce Vitamin D, melatonin & serotonin.
SEROTONIN, as already mentioned allows for some seriously feel good feelings and melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate our sleep cycle allowing for deep sleep at night and calmness during the day. Vitamin D is also a super hero key player when it comes to mood and preventing depression, especially in the winter months when our sun exposure is so limited.
I won’t go into great detail about the whole sun and skin cancer connection debate, but I will mention that using sunscreen during this brief 10-15 minute time of sun exposure will block our body’s ability to produce Vitamin. (I’ll save this talk for another post!) Opt for natural sunscreens, such as Green Beaver which can be found at your local health food store.
A solution to adequate sun exposure, particularly in the winter or if you are simply unable to get out in the sun, is natural light therapy or a SAD lamp. SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder and has a huge connection to PMS. Using bright light is standard among treating depression, but even more recently research has indicated a positive effect for depressed mood in women with premenstrual disorder.
Most of us here in Canada are living in a seriously light deprived society for 6-8 months of the year. In fact up to 75% of adults living in North America have insufficient levels of Vitamin D in their blood stream. For those women really struggling in the winter season with depression, purchasing a SAD lamp may just be worth the investment. Check out: http://www.day-lights.com/canadaindex.html for the low down on how SAD lamps work.
Envision your way to boosting your mood. Sometimes it can be out of habit that we go to the “bad” place or dark feelings. And it’s absolutely okay and healthy to feel through our emotions however dark or sad they may be at times and in fact, I highly encourage you to in order to process and release them. But sometimes it can also be easy to get “stuck” there hitting the repeat button in our brain.
It is possible in certain times that we can think or envision our way to a better feeling. The power of positive thought is actually quite miraculous. Dr. Lissa Rankin discusses the ability for the mind to heal the body in her new book Mind over Medicine.
Thoughts become energy, energy becomes physical. Positive, love-based thinking can turn funky thoughts into optimistic ones.
If I find myself feeling down, sad or just not myself during a time of PMS I take the time to sit in quiet and ask myself what these feeling are all about. Sometimes I use a journal to write them out in order to explore them further. By doing this I can usually bring clarity and heal them. By really sitting with the not so good thoughts, feeling through them, rather than trying to delete or ignore them we can come to understand them, accept them and let them go.
In the third and final part of this PMS and depression series I want to get right down and dirty with our sadness and depression during PMS and open up your eyes to a whole new way of thinking about your monthly cycle. Are you ready for this?
Can’t get enough of this stuff? Contact me for more details on a FREE one-one-one strategy session with me, where we get clear about your health goals, any road blocks keeping you from getting there and how I can help you.
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