There’s nothing quite like a partner, kid or friend accusing you of ‘PMS-ing’ or being ‘hormonal’ when you’re grumpy, especially when you are. In fact, I reckon there’s a special store of rage reserved for anyone who dares comment on the state of your hormones, particularly when they’re right.
But despite what some people might have you believe, our monthly moodiness isn’t made up, nor is it weird or unusual. It’s hormonal and it’s healthy.
Certainly, some women experience PMS that’s unbearable, or moodiness, anxiety or depression that is out of sync with their cycles. These ailments sometimes require professional support, or medication, or both.
But according to women’s health psychiatrist and author of Moody Bitches, Dr. Julie Holland, and in my personal experience working with thousands of women, most women can manage their moods with a few easy-to-learn lifestyle modifications.
Dr. Holland says we need to think and act more like cave women. As humans evolved in nature, we are hardwired to thrive in certain conditions. These conditions no longer exist and today’s world is out of sync with our biochemistry kit.
Dr. Holland helps women manage their inner “moody bitch” and find peace by prescribing the age-old remedies of movement, nature, fresh air, sunlight, good sleep, fresh healthy food, more relaxation and more face time with friends.
She also says we should get comfortable with being moody because it’s a sign of health, not sickness. Evolution has hardwired us to be sensitive to our environments, our children, and our partners. This is basic to our survival. We are more “feeling” than men because as our brain develops, there’s more capacity for language, memory, hearing and observing emotions.
In her book, Holland explains that this is biology, not feminist ideology. But it has serious implications for our modern lifestyle.
As Dr. Holland wrote in the New York Times: “Women’s emotionality is a sign of health, not disease; it is a source of power. But we are under constant pressure to restrain our emotional lives. We have been taught to apologize for our tears, to suppress our anger and to fear being called hysterical.” She goes on to argue how the pharmaceutical industry taps into this fear to sell their medications, targeting us through social media, talk-show advertorial and online information.
When we accept that these moods are normal, natural, and maybe even helpful, we can begin to work with them, rather than against them. We can find ways to manage these extreme emotions, by getting more sleep, sunshine, nature, nutrients, movement, hugs, and eye contact.
It’s simple but not always easy to do. Fitting all these things in while trying to juggle the demands of modern life takes time, practice and prioritising. But we often put our own health last which doesn’t serve us well. In the long run, the best nurturers are those who prioritise their own self-care.
If you think you’re too busy to fit a 30-minute walkie talkie into each day, think again. Your health depends on it. You need to learn to integrate. This means blending the things you need for wellbeing so that you’re always ticking two or three boxes at once. And get better at saying ‘no’ to things that won’t serve your health.
We need love, movement and nourishment every day. No, not most days. Every single day we need to connect with others, move our bodies and eat nourishing foods. And we can integrate these needs by walking in nature with friends. This gives you love, movement and nourishment as well as personal connection, eye contact, fresh air, water, sunlight and relaxation all rolled into one.
Or you could integrate a walk into your work with walking meetings or walking lunch breaks or walk to work blending transport and exercise together.
On the weekends you can get active with the kids and loved ones by cycling, swimming, yoga and hiking together which provides many of the remedies recommended by Dr. Holland. Or create micro-adventures, like playing tip in the park or jumping on the bed every day.
And when that overwhelming emotional outburst hits, go outside. Just for 10 minutes. And you’ll discover that your brain will switch gear, your limbic system will swing into action and your mood will calm. You’ll be amazed by how much better you feel.
We all need love, movement and nourishment in nature but women need a little more of this at certain times of the month to harness the powerful goddesses mother nature created.