PMS and PMDD are two things that many women have to deal with. While PMS is milder, they both can cause a lot of discomfort physically and mentally.
When it is that time of your cycle where things get really bad for you and you need some relief, having helpful resources in one place may do wonders. This can be called your “toolbox.”
In this post, more about having a toolbox and what to put inside of it will be discussed.
Hormones and our menstrual cycles
There are three key types of hormones that play a huge role in our menstrual cycles. They are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone (yes, women need this one too!).
During the phases of our cycles, these aforementioned hormones do different things. Here is a quick run down of which ones are doing what during the days of our cycle:
Days 1-7: Estrogen is rising and progesterone levels decrease.
Days 8-14: Estrogen and testosterone are rising together. Progesterone is low.
Days 15-22: First, progesterone rises with estrogen dropping. Estrogen rises again during this time.
Days 23-28 (an average cycle length): Estrogen and progesterone decrease.
Sensitivity and/or genetics
Everyone is different when it comes to their experiences with their menstrual cycles. Some get through them without any struggles. Unfortunately, others are not so lucky.
There are a lot of women who are very sensitive to the hormone shifts that happen in our cycles. This leads them to deal with physical and mental symptoms that usually come on after ovulation.
There also may be some genetic component to this. Usually if one person has hormonal issues, other biologically related people in their family have them too.
PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder)are both the names of the groups of hormonal symptoms. PMS can range in intensity from mild to severe and PMDD is even beyond that.
The following is a list of the hormonal symptoms that both PMS and PMDD can include:
- Low level of self-confidence
- Bloating and weight gain
- Aches and pains
- Gum irritation
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Headaches and/or migraines
- Loose stools
- Urinary frequency
While the mental symptoms in PMS and PMDD are similar, PMDD is more severe. It may even greatly disrupt aspects of women’s lives such as romantic relationships and employment.
Regardless of whether someone has PMS or PMDD, there are sure to be times when relief is wanted as soon as possible.
Why have a PMS/PMDD toolbox?
We are not talking about having a Craftsman toolbox in this case-although those are great too. We are talking about a toolbox that you can reach into when your hormones are causing chaos to your mind and/or body
Everyone has a certain amount of discomfort that they can handle. Having a PMS/PMDD toolbox around when you have gone over that amount is extremely helpful.
The following are the benefits of having a toolbox always available:
- Provide relatively quick relief from physical symptoms that you are having trouble with.
- May help you channel negative feelings.
- May help boost your mood so that you can get through the rest of the day or night.
- May help keep you from making bad decisions that may negatively effect you later on.
- May help you learn more about and be in tune with yourself.
The idea of having a toolbox for mental and physical health is great for people without PMS or PMDD, too. This is because everyone has times where they may need some quick help to feel better.
How to make your PMS/PMDD toolbox
Okay, so we know the reasons why having a PMS/PMDD toolbox is a good idea. Now, let’s get into how to make one.
Here are the steps to take for making one that will serve your specific needs:
Step 1- Pick out a container
You can use anything you want to put your PMS/PMDD-helping items in. Some ideas include a backpack, large bin, medium sized bin, duffel bag, laundry hamper and a large bucket. Heck, you could even use an actual toolbox if you wanted to!
A backpack with multiple compartments is a particularly nice idea. This makes it so you can section out your items and organize them-if you are that type of person. Just throwing it all in their is fine, too.
You may need to switch to a larger “toolbox” depending on how many items you decide you want to put in one.
Step 2- Pick out the items that you think will help you
Before you pick out your toolbox items, you have to ask yourself some questions. These include the following:
- “What do I usually struggle with mentally and physically that is caused by my menstrual cycle?”
- “What days during my cycle do I experience these bad feelings?”
- “What has made me feel better in the past?”
- “What am I interested in trying to help me feel better?”
Along with asking yourself these questions, you should also write down a list of emotions and feelings that you struggle with instead of just thinking it. This will make it easier to figure out what you might want to put in your toolbox.
Here are examples of things you can put in:
For mental/emotional health-
- A journal to write out what you are feeling.
- An inspirational quote book.
- Written down names of videos that you find relaxing. All you have to do is type them in on your phone, computer, tablet etc. and start listening.
- Written down situations that make you laugh or just feel good and loved.
- A sheet detailing breathing exercises.
- A CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) workbook to work out of.
- A self-love workbook to work out of.
- Calming essential oils such as chamomile, bergamot orange, lavender and peppermint.
- Packets of tea such as fennel, Cup of Calm, chamomile and Tension Tamer.
- A coloring book and colored pencils.
- List of feel-good movies that you are interested in watching and are available to stream.
- Special sketchbook if you like drawing.
- Picture books and scrapbooks that show good times/family/friends.
- Tylenol, Advil and/or ibuprofen for aches and pains.
- A heated blanket and/or a heat pack. These are great for aches, pains and for a general calming feeling in the body.
- Tea packets for nausea such as ginger, peppermint, red raspberry leaf, cinnamon (you can use cinnamon bark sticks), turmeric, rosemary, fennel and chamomile.
- Tums for bad heartburn.
- Vick’s Vaporub for aches and pains.
- Gas-X for gassiness that can occur.
- Diarrhea medication if you are someone who experiences a lot of loose stools on certain days of your cycle.
- A comfy outfit (s).
- Magnesium spray for insomnia, aches and pains.
- Pieces of candy drops that help with digestive upset.
- Lotion for itchy skin.
- Your favorite treat that you only indulge in during certain times of the month.
- Sleeping pills that you only use during certain times of the month when you get insomnia.
There are probably more things that you can put in your toolbox but these are just to help you get started!
There are two things of note here. One is that you should check the ingredients of teas and medications before you use them as part of your mental/physical health resources. You may be allergic to them or they may interact with other medication you are taking.
The other thing to note is that if you are putting in any kind of candy drops or treats, you should regularly look at the expiration date and replenish the supply if need-be.
Step 3- Proper placement
Once you have your toolbox put together, it is time to figure out where to put it.
It is important to put it in an accessible place. Somewhere where you don’t have to spend time digging it out as this might make you more frustrated than you already are. You could put it under your bed(if you are using a flat bin), in your closet (not under things), by the side of your bed etc.
If you live with someone, it might be a good idea to tell them what the toolbox is for and where it is. This is because if you are really struggling, it could be helpful to have them go get it for you and help get out the things you need right away.
Other things you can have around
Because some helpful things might not fit in your toolbox container, you can simply keep them near it. Here are some other items to consider:
- Foam roller to help your back during certain times of the month when it gets tight.
- A heated blanket if it didn’t fit in your toolbox container.
- A massage gun for your tight muscles and back.
- A red light therapy lamp which can help with pain, moods and energy levels.
Another thing to consider having is a calming or meditation app on your phone.
As stated before, a PMS/PMDD toolbox is for quick relief when you are really struggling. There are certain things that you can do or take each day that may reduce and/or lesson these times though. These include the following:
- Cleaning up your diet if you don’t eat very healthy.
- Taking supplements such as calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B6 and magnesium.
- Getting regular exercise.
- Weekly counseling.
- Keeping in touch with loved ones.
- Taking birth control to help balance hormones.
- Taking an antidepressant.
In conclusion, consider a toolbox
As you can see from this post, having a PMS/ PMDD toolbox could be a life changing thing for you. It may not be a cure, but it can help you feel better on short notice if you carefully select the items you put into it.
Do you keep around something like this when you are having a rough time? Let me know!
Thanks for reading!
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