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5 Tips for dealing with PMS

Laura Willard is a law school grad who has successfully avoided using her education for eight years and counting. She's a wife and an adoptive mom to two kids. Motherhood is the best job she never knew she wanted so much until she had it...

PMS pointers

It’s usually reliable, that visitor who arrives every month, but you don’t look forward to welcoming it. That's because your period often brings along its friends: Cramps, mood swings, bloating and the rest. But PMS doesn’t have to cause you such misery. Take control and consider these five ideas for conquering PMS.

Woman with PMS

Walk it off

Unfortunately, you can't exactly exercise away your period, but you can feel better and improve PMS symptoms with physical activity. You might think, "Really? Because the last thing I want to do right now is squeeze into my gym clothes and go for a run!" You're certainly not alone. Even if you're bloated and uncomfortable, though, do the best you can. Something as simple as a quick walk around the block can help alleviate painful cramps and decrease bloating. Consider Pilates or yoga for both the relaxation and stretching benefits. Many women also find that swimming is a good zero-impact activity that helps with PMS. And of course, with the right protection, you can swim during your period.

Resist the cravings

We all know that eating right all of the time is ideal, but if you are vigilant about what you eat and drink only sometimes, make sure to watch most carefully just before and during your period. It seems unfair that the times you're craving chocolate and potato chips the most are the times you should really avoid them, but do your body a favor and you'll feel the benefits. Fluctuating hormones can cause cravings, but stay strong. Stick with healthy, natural foods (read: avoid packaged snacks!) and drink a lot of water. Keeping blood sugar levels stable should help with cravings, and minimizing salt intake can decrease bloating.

Sleep, sleep, sleep!

Your body heals and energizes while you are asleep. Plus, you might be more tired and sluggish than usual before and during your period. While PMS actually can interrupt sleep, you can reduce or eliminate your caffeine intake for a better night's rest. And if you have the time, take a nap!

Go old school

You've probably heard your mom and grandma say it, but sometimes they really do know what they're talking about: Try a heating pad or hot water bottle to reduce painful cramps. Lie down for 20 minutes with a heating pad on your lower abdomen or back. Not only will the heat alleviate some of your pain, but the down time also might make you feel a little more energized. Also try the disposable heating patches available at drug stores -- they're small and easy to use anywhere.

Over-the-counter remedies

Many women find that drugstore remedies such as naproxen and ibuprofen eliminate or at least alleviate some symptoms of PMS. Additionally, there are countless natural and herbal remedies, but be sure to do your research, because these are not regulated by the FDA.

Remember that you don't have to be miserable every month. If you find that your PMS symptoms are uncomfortable enough that they interfere with your daily living and you're not finding any relief with simple changes, talk to your doctor. Our grandmothers may have suffered in silence, but we don't have to!

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