In my last blog (Coping with mood swings: Part 1), I covered why it's important to keep an eye on your blood sugar levels, what's going on with your hormones at this time, and how your doctor might be able to help.
Let's get started!
1. Get a good night's sleep
Your sleeping habits can also have a huge effect on your mood. If you fail to get an adequate amount of sleep at night (around 7-9 hours), you risk becoming fatigued both physically and emotionally.
Sleep and mood are closely connected and, if your brain doesn't get enough time to rest and restore, you could end up suffering from low mood, anxiety and stress. Struggling with poor sleep on and off can also make you prone to mood swings as varying amounts of sleep can toy with your day-to-day emotions.
Some of my top tips for getting a good night's sleep whilst on your period include:
- Take a warm, relaxing bath to wind down before bed
- Avoid using your phone or tablet in the hours before you go to sleep
- Try relaxing breathing techniques to calm your mind.
2. Pay attention to your diet
Your diet can also have a large impact on your mood, with certain nutrients playing a key role in keeping your mood balanced.
Vitamin D is a pro-hormone and we have vitamin D receptors all over our bodies, including in the area of our brain which is associated with depression. If you are low in vitamin D, this can have an impact on your mood and leave you feeling low. Read more about vitamin D and your period here.
There are some good food sources of vitamin D which can help to up your levels. You are also able to manufacture vitamin D from exposure to the sun, which I'll touch on a little more in section 6 below.
Now, you might think that choosing low-fat food options is a good way to stay healthy; however, low-fat options can be bad for your mood for a couple of reasons. Firstly, healthy fats are important for protecting the membrane around your brain cells. So, foods like oily fish, chia seeds and walnuts are all sources of omega-3 which can help to boost brain function and help to balance your moods.
Secondly, low-fat yoghurts, for example, are often packed with extra sugar to make up for the loss of taste through removing fats. As we've covered above, excess sugar can wreak havoc with your moods.
Magnesium and zinc are also key nutrients for brain function and can help to keep your moods from swinging all over the place. While magnesium is important for fighting anxiety and promoting relaxation,1 zinc plays a role in the transmission of messages in the brain and is involved in learning and memory processes. What's more, zinc deficiency has also been linked to an increase in the risk of depression.2
3. Get outdoors and exercise
Exercising can help you on your way to a happier period for a few reasons. First, when you exercise, this promotes the release of serotonin, a chemical which works in the brain to keep us focused and elevate our mood. This can be useful if your mood tends to suffer just before or during your period each month.
Exercise can also help to relieve stress which can be helpful if you are more prone to anxiety or irritability during your period. Getting active and working hard will help to take your mind off worries and can be an effective (and more positive!) way to channel anger or stress.
What's more, exercising outdoors can have a doubly positive effect on your moods. Spending time outside in the sunshine will allow you to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D and help to lift your mood, at least during the summer months. And, exposing yourself to light during the day (even in winter when there might be little sun) will have a positive effect on your endocrine system which also plays a role in regulating mood.
Another benefit of spending time outdoors is that you can breathe in plenty of fresh air and practice deep breathing techniques. Mindfulness and deep breathing are great methods for calming a stressed or anxious mind.
So, take a quick walk outside during your lunch break or head out for an evening cycle to get yourself moving and spend some time in the great outdoors. It could do wonders for your mood!