PMS is like a bouquet of flowers that you receive every month. This bouquet has many flowers, some you can enjoy right away, while some come with thorns which need to be handled carefully, so you can enjoy the entire bouquet.
Since PMS elicits mixed feelings for many of us, there is no one fits-all solution. However, if you have suffered from PMS, then it’s time to get a handle over this monthly visitor, so you can have a peaceful time without losing your cool.
How do you know if you have PMS? There are a lot of symptoms and it can be different for each of us, but here are some of the most common symptoms:
Pain – pain in the breast, abdomen, back, joints, muscles, or pelvis etc.
Gastrointestinal issues – constipation, diarrhea, nausea, bloating, water retention, appetite changes, excessive hunger, fatigue, or loss of appetite.
Mood – anxiety, sadness, general discontent, irritability, outbursts of anger, temporary ecstasy, impulsive decision-making, unusual shopping tendencies, nostalgia, or lack of self-control.
Miscellaneous – headache, insomnia, brain fog, lack of concentration, weight gain/loss, allergies, breathing issues, facial acne, or forgetfulness.
Steps You Can Take to Improve Your PMS
1. Eat Whole Foods
More and more women are susceptible to PMS symptoms these days because of all the hormones and pesticides that are being used in our food. Bigger and more is not always better. You want quality over quantity when it comes to food. These harmful chemicals have long-term, and short-term detrimental effects on our health, and experiencing unusual PMS symptoms is one of them. The hormones in these foods throw off our body’s hormonal balance, creating all sorts of health issues. It can affect your physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual health in a negative way.
Take small steps instead of going cold turkey, as this makes developing any good habits much easier.
You want to include whole foods and pure water in your diet. Start with cutting back on processed food, and eliminate junk food as much as you can. Eat as much naturally produced, organic food as you can afford. Organic food usually costs more than conventionally grown food. Start with avoiding the dirty dozen and keep adding as much organic, naturally grown/made food as your budget permits.
Remember, you are what you eat.
2. Cut Back on Sugar
We eat a lot more sugar than we used to and this consumption is one of the biggest reasons of poor health. Sugar finds its way everywhere, from chocolate to soup- if it’s processed, it’s likely to have some form sugar in it. Read the labels of the processed food so that you know what kind of sugar you’re eating. Cutting back sugar consumption may not be easy if you’re big on drinking soda, juice or hot/cold caffeinated drinks, but don’t give up just yet. Take small steps instead of going cold turkey, as this makes developing any good habits much easier. You’re more likely to stick to your good habit as well. Try to cut back on the number of soda/juice/hot drink you take per day. Making certain drinks at home can make them healthier, and less sweetened. Try to be open to other drinks, like herbal tea with honey. Just warm water with a little honey makes a soothing drink that’s soothing for your body and mind. Sprinkle a little bit of your favorite spice to make it even better.
If you have a voracious sweet tooth, try taking smaller portions of dessert and try to eat them less often. You can consider eating dried fruits like figs, plums, mango, or dates instead of eating cakes, pastries, cookies etc. Use honey, molasses, brown sugar, turbinado sugar instead of regular white sugar.
The less sugar you consume, the more balanced your PMS symptoms are likely to become. You’re less likely to encounter the feeling that you’re either on a roller coaster, or in a dumpster. Your mood will stabilize and you’ll be calmer, and happier inshAllah.
3. Get Enough Rest and Sleep Well
We are all too familiar with how busy life in the 21st century is. Who has the time to rest, right? Make rest a priority. Add it to your calendar, set an alarm on your phone for a 15 minute break every day. And mean it when you’re taking rest, which means saying no to checking your Pinterest, or updating your status on Facebook, or Instagram. Don’t listen to podcasts, or watch YouTube videos. Make yourself a priority, and show it with action.
Start quiet activities before bedtime so everyone, especially the kids, are calm and ready to go to bed without meltdowns.
The same goes for sleeping. Since most of us can’t afford to catch up on sleep by taking a nap, make getting enough sleep each night a priority as well. Start quiet activities before bedtime so everyone, especially the kids, are calm and ready to go to bed without meltdowns. Try to go to bed once your kids have been tucked in. I know it’s tempting to take advantage of the quiet time and catch up on your hobbies, check out social media, or T.V. shows, but the price that you’ll have to pay from lack of sleep is not worth it.
Exercise is a difficult one for many of us. We want to do it, we have the intention to do it, but we hardly get around to it. You pay the gym membership fee every month without stepping one foot in the gym for months. Yes, I hear you. If you’re really pressed for time or money, get as much movement as you can in your daily activities. Take a walk around your neighborhood. Go to the park with your kids and play tag. Use a jump rope in your back yard. Do simple Yoga and Pilates while watching a video. Park your car farther when you run errands, so you can add a few more steps to your exercise regimen. Take the stairs instead of the elevator/escalator. In short, find ways to live an active lifestyle.
1. Manage stress
Your PMS symptoms will vary greatly depending on how you manage your stress. Undesired events in our lives are inevitable, but reacting to them in a negative way is optional. We all get to decide how we want to deal with these events. Yes, you do have a choice. You can either respond, and take control, or react and give/lose control.
Identify the stress triggers in your lives. These events can fall under people, place, or events. Plan on how you can deal with them in a positive way. Observe how you describe the stressful stories to yourself and others – choose your words wisely as these words will turn into a negative tape. Tell a different story that empowers you, so you have a positive tape. It doesn’t mean you’ll be in denial, just tell the story in a way that benefits you and puts positivity first. For example, instead of saying, “I had a horrible day”, you can say, “I had a flat tire in the morning, but I managed to get it fixed”.
If you have concurrent stressful events in your life, handle them one at a time, starting with the one that you can control best. Delegate some of them if you can.
Got repetitive stress triggers in your life? Like a dreadful family member that wouldn’t stop pelting you with negativity? Or maybe in-laws who can’t be pleased no matter what you do? Sometimes, removing them from your life is not an option, so try to limit and avoid your exposure to them. You’ve the right to protect yourself from vitriol.
Consider getting help through counseling and therapy. Both are great ways to alleviate stress. Besides, a helping hand and a shoulder to lean on are always good things. Seeing a therapist or a counselor doesn’t make you a faulty person. It’s all about alignment, and you’re trying to improve your mental health just like you’d see your doctor to improve your physical health.
Meditation has immense benefit for your health. When your mind calms down, the calmness soothes your body. Don’t think you’ll have to sit for an hour to get the benefits of mediation. A consistent 5-minute meditation regime can make a huge difference in boosting your mood. If you struggle to find even 5 minutes, do it right after you pray Fajr and/or Asr. All you need to do is to sit quietly on your prayer mat, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. In, and out. Don’t judge yourself on your meditation performance, you’re not out there to become a monk, nor contending to be a meditation guru. Let the busy thoughts come, and watch them go. You might feel fidgety and unable to sit for long when you start out, but it will get easier with practice inshAllah. You will see a marked difference after just 1 week of intentional meditation.
3. Have a Positive Attitude
The way you look at things changes the things you look at. Choose not to let the challenges in your life, define your life. The difficulties are only one aspect of our lives, just like the opportunities are another. They don’t make or break you, your attitude about them do.
Remember, it takes effort, and discipline to develop a positive attitude. Happiness is a choice. Don’t think that everything and everyone should change so you can be happy. Instead, think about what you can muster to develop a positive attitude, irrespective of the facts of your life. If you need inspiration, think about the temperament of Prophet Muhammad(sa) or Asiya(ra), Khadija(ra), Aishah(ra), Ayub(as)- they were tested with hunger, poverty, disease, tyrant spouses, pain, and even death.
Write down activities that boost your mood and do more of those.
Choose, as best you can, to have an intrinsically happy climate so you’re not at the mercy of the weather outside. Write down activities that boost your mood and do more of those. Stay away from negative people who bring you down. If you can’t avoid them, avoid thinking about them, and limit your exposure to them with fewer visits, shorter conversations.
4. Take Supplements
The right supplements can make a huge difference to how you feel overall. It’s all the truer to reduce and heal from PMS symptoms. To determine what supplements you need, get a comprehensive blood work done by your doctor. This will give you a better idea about your health and what steps you need to take to improve your health.
The following supplements are great for improving your health. Take as needed to feel better:
- Vitamin A – Powerful antioxidant that’s great for immune system and GI, alleviates skin issues because of hormonal imbalances.
- Vitamin B complex – Helps maintain a healthy nervous system which is essential for stabilizing your mood and energy during PMS.
- Vitamin C – Great for boosting the immune system, and can help with PMS if you’re deficient.
- Vitamin D – An essential to improve your gut and your mood.
- Vitamin E – Helps reducing PMS issues, improves hair and skin.
- Magnesium – Works wonders to keep calm.
- Calcium – Great for your bones and to improve your temperament.
- Zinc – Amazing to improve immune system, helps to keep a balanced energy level.
- Iron – Helps to improve anemia, and to increase Serotonin in your body.
- Chromium – Help to maintain a balanced blood sugar level.
- 5 HTP – Very helpful if you feel anxious, or sad, or have crying spells as it helps with Serotonin level.
- GABA – Helps to calm your nerves.
- Digestive Enzyme – Excellent to improve digestion which is imperative for absorbing nutrients.
Consult your doctor for the rights doses of any supplement for optimal benefit. A good multivitamin that’s free of fillers can be helpful to improve your health.
Creating and keeping a strong connection with Allah(swt) is imperative for our well-being. After all, you need Allah (swt) to bring you through whatever He (swt) brings you to in life. Reliance on Allah (swt) is no magic. It’s a deliberate action that you do, time and time again, and each time the bond gets stronger, subhanAllah. Give tawakkul a shot, and you will see the difference inshAllah.
Start with the very basics of praying 5 times a day, on time, with love and focus. Do dhikr as much as you can, and you will see how it becomes like breathing. Dhikr helps you to keep distance from shaitan and its evil lures. Both take time and patience, so be kind and don’t berate yourself for not being the perfect Muslim. Just take small, consistent steps towards pleasing Allah (swt).
The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “Allah the Most High said, ‘I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.’”
Take small steps to walk to Ar Raheem. It will lift your spirit, change your life.
- Honey – Warm water mixed with honey is soothing for your body anytime, especially during PMS. Honey can work as well as a painkiller- a new study has revealed this recently.
- Zamzam Water – Drink as much Zamzam water as you can to calm your nerves and to keep the negative thoughts away. If it’s not easily available, mix a tiny amount of Zamzam water to your water bottle and drink away. You can also use it topically on your scalp to keep you cool, inshAllah.
- Ajwa Dates – Eat 7 of these as part of Sunnah and enjoy the immense benefits.
- Black Seed Oil – Black seed oil has many health benefits. I take a drop to boost my immune system and improve my GI health. Rubbing it on your tummy can help ease PMS cramps.
- Olive Oil – A healthy source of fat to keep you energized during dump days.
- Ruqya – If you’re feeling really out of sorts and don’t know what hit you- try doing ruqya. It works like a charm for me for all kinds of ailments for me and my family. Recite Ayatul Qursi, Sura Fatiha, Sura Ikhlas, Sura Falaq and Sura Naas as correctly as you can, blow on your palms and rub your palms on your head, face, arms and body. You can also blow in a bottle of water and drink it for added benefits and protection. The healing power of the Quran is amazing. Allah (swt) makes things easy with ease.
- Dhikr – The remembrance of Allah (swt) does miracles, and provides healing. Call upon Al-Lateef, who knows your subtlest pain and call upon As-Shafi, who can heal anything and everything.
Also, remember this dua, as the Messenger of Allah (sa) used to say “O Allah take away the hardship, O Lord of mankind, give shifa, You are the One who cures, there is no cure except Your shifa, a cure that will not leave any sickness”.
أَذْهِبِ الْبَأْسَ رَبَّ النَّاسِ وَاشْفِ أَنْتَ الشَّافِي لَا شِفَاءَ إِلَّا شِفَاؤُكَ شِفَاءٌ لَا يُغَادِرُ سَقَمَاً
(Allahumma adhibil ba’sa Rabb an-naasi, washfi antash-shaafii, la shifa’aa illa shifa-uka shifa-oon la yughadiru saqaman).
Other Helpful Tips
1. Essential Oils – Lavender helps to calm you down; Orange/lemon oils help lift your spirit; Peppermint oil is good for headaches caused by PMS. You can use these oils in a diffuser, or you can use topically, or put a dab on a piece of cloth/cotton ball and have it around your person for mild aromatherapy.
2. Hot or Cold Compresses – A hot or warm compress can be very helpful with cramps caused by PMS.
By being able to predict the various aspects of your menstruation cycle, you will be able to manage your symptoms better.
3. Start a PMS Journal – If you feel like you’re on a roller coaster most of the month, keeping a weekly diary can be helpful. Take notes weekly, starting with the 1st day of your period, maintaining a 4-week journal. Write down how you feel each week – your mood, your appetite, your behavior etc. This diary will be invaluable to predict your symptoms week by week, so you can take preventative methods to minimize and eliminate painful symptoms for upcoming months. This journal will include your PMS symptoms – your action plan to heal, and what worked well and what didn’t work so well. By being able to predict the various aspects of your menstruation cycle, you will be able to manage your symptoms better.
Dealing with PMS can be challenging. It takes time to even recognize that what you’re going though is really PMS. You might think you’re over-reacting, being too sensitive, or just going crazy. You do not have to do this alone. There are many sisters who are in the same boat. Like every challenge, this too shall pass inshAllah. Let’s take better care of ourselves and feel better together.
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