How do you feel in the days leading up to your cycle? You’re reading this, so I’m assuming anxious is one of the things you feel, but what else?
I used to feel like my period was making me lose my mind. It was like I was on a roller coaster at nighttime, with absolutely no lights illuminating the track. Like whatever was coming around the corner could have been an up or a down, or an upside down, or a quick turn that led to an immediate stop.
In the week or so leading up to my cycle, it used to go something like this…
- Ugh, I feel tired. Why am I so tired??
- I’m so irritable! But seriously, consider yourself warned. It’s probably best if you just stay at least 6 feet away, and it’s not because of social distancing guidelines, or because of my introvertness.
- Ahh, I must be close to starting to bleed (yes, it’s okay to say bleed/bleeding because that is what happens when you are menstruating).
- These moods! I’m okay. I’m not okay. I’m super not okay. I feel so anxious and panicky. Alright, I think I got this. Nope, I don’t have this on any level. How do I stop feeling this way??
- Oh great, here comes more symptoms! My pelvis hurts. Wait what is that sensation? I feel nauseous. What if I get sick? My left boob feels weird, I swear this isn’t normal. What if there’s something wrong?
- Is that color normal? Why is my bleeding so heavy? Why is it so light? Why didn’t I bleed for as long as I usually do?
And I said that it USED to go like this for me, because it no longer does. Yes, there IS hope! Keep reading!
So aside from obvious reasons, why might your menstrual cycle be causing you to experience anxiety and panic?
1. If you already struggle with anxiety and panic, you probably also struggle with not being in control, and you don’t love it when things are unpredictable. Am I right? Feeling a lack of control can trigger some major anxiety and panic for many people, it used to for me! There are some things you really don’t have control of when it comes to your menstrual cycle, but there are some things that you do have control of.
So what’s my solution to feeling a lack of control? Educate yourself! I have done lots of reading and listening to podcasts, which have all helped me to better understand that while I’m not in control of whether or not I bleed, I do have control of knowing what’s coming, how I’ll likely feel, and the ability to make healthy decisions that will decrease the feelings of lacking control.
I’ll walk through some solutions in a minute, but first I want to talk about another reason why you might be experiencing heightened anxiety and panic during your cycle (which ties into the first reason)...
2. You’re likely already extremely aware of any symptoms that you experience, or just when you generally don’t feel well, and the symptoms and feelings probably lead to lots of thoughts that trigger anxiety and panic. The symptoms can be physical, mental, or emotion. Wellllll, let’s face it, you likely experience ALL of the symptoms because you were blessed with being a woman.
And our hormones can cause some weird symptoms, right? But the symptoms don’t mean that something is wrong, or that those symptoms have to lead to anxiety and panic. So yes, the real symptoms of the hormonal changes are causing you to feel a certain way, but your thoughts can ultimately be the thing that is leading to the anxiety and panic.
So what will help? Start to track your symptoms and how you feel!
I can’t stress how helpful it is to have an understanding of what is “normal” for you. What sort of feelings and symptoms you experience and when.
I have been tracking my symptoms for a while now, and by doing this, it has helped me to:
- Know what’s coming so that I don't feel so blindsided by the physical, mental, and emotional changes.
- Better plan out my days and include more self-care for those times of the month that I know I won't be feeling great!
- Not be on high alert every time I experience a symptom. And I'm actually able to prevent the symptoms from causing anxiety and panic!
- Be more in control of processing my emotions in a healthy way.
Tracking your cycle will help to put you back in control. Instead of experiencing a symptom and having it feel like it’s happening out of the middle of nowhere, you’ll likely know when you’ll experience the symptom or feeling, and can quickly reassure yourself of the why.
I’m definitely not an expert on all things menstrual cycle, but there are people that are! Claire Baker is a period coach. Yup, it’s a thing. She talks about the seasons of your cycle, the benefits of tracking, and how to start tracking. Check her out here!
3. Your lifestyle and diet choices also have a major impact on your physical, mental, and emotional health! Stress, a lack of sleep, a lack of exercise, alcohol, not staying hydrated, all of these things can be contributing to the anxiety, panic, and the symptoms you experience during your menstrual cycle. So in order to work through and eliminate the anxiety, panic, and symptoms, you truly have to form new and healthy habits.
There are so many apps out there that can help you to start tracking your period! The Clue app is just one example that you can check out if you’re interested.
You know that roller coaster ride I was referencing at the beginning of this post? Educating yourself will start to turn some of those lights on so that you can at least see what’s in front of you. YOU have to make choices that will fully illuminate your path so that you don’t feel so in the dark, out of control, and anxious every time that time of the month rolls around!
I always like to emphasize this… YOU are in control of your thoughts and habits. You can change your thoughts, and you can change your habits.
And being educated will always help to support your mental, physical, and emotional health!