Premenstrual Syndrome – 5 ways to stop these painful symptoms

Premenstrual Syndrome (or PMS) isn’t fun for anyone suffering through it month after month. While I know you want to get rid of these symptoms as fast as possible, I find it helpful to view the symptoms of PMS as communication. Your body is trying to tell you something. Often your pain, irritability and exhaustion are your body wanting you to pay attention.

“Slow down!” it’s screaming at you, as you complain to your parter about symptoms that are stopping you from running through life at 100mph. And then we wonder why we crash and burn. Maybe the signs were there all along?

But let’s back up. What is premenstrual syndrome and how do we stop these painful symptoms once and for all?

Premenstrual Syndrome

What is Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)?

Premenstrual syndrome is the combination of physical and emotional symptoms that women experience in the week or two before menstruation. PMS symptoms vary in intensity. Some women will only experience breast tenderness, while others will have a whole host of symptoms from headaches to hot flushes and diarrhoea. Premenstrual symptoms can also vary from month to month, depending on your stress levels, nutrition, movement, sleep and other health issues.

What does Premenstrual Syndrome feel like?

Premenstrual syndrome feels different for every woman. You might have a combination of some or all of the following symptoms.

Physical Symptoms

  • constipation or diarrhoea
  • cramping in your pelvis
  • sore breasts
  • headaches
  • bloating
  • back aches
  • pimples

Emotional Symptoms

  • exhaustion
  • mood swings
  • unable to sleep
  • irritable
  • difficulty concentrating
  • anxiety

What causes PMS?

Researchers are unsure exactly what causes premenstrual syndrome, though it seems to be related to our changing hormone levels at this time. Other lifestyle factors that mess with your hormone levels also seem to make PMS symptoms worse. These can include; having too much caffeine, lack of sleep, stress, smoking, excessive alcohol, too much (or too little) exercise and processed food. So basically all the things we know aren’t good for us, are also likely to make PMS worse.

5 ways to stop the symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome


Not getting enough sleep or pushing yourself too hard can make your PMS symptoms worse because sleep plays such a really important role in balancing hormones. Feeling tired generally makes us feel more irritable, but it also makes it harder to make good choices all round. I know I’m not the only one who reaches for sugar and another cup of coffee when I’m feeling tired.


Eating highly processed, sugar-filled and fried foods has been linked to an increase in PMS symptoms. While some experts will recommend eating certain foods during the two weeks of your pre-menstrual phase, I think you’re better off just eating good food throughout the whole month. Focus on eating real foods (think fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat and dairy) and enough of it. Nothing messes with your hormones more than being undernourished.


Regular exercise has been shown to significantly reduce premenstrual symptoms. It’s not enough to just exercise when your PMS arrives though. Try to be more active throughout the whole month. Your exercise can (and probably should) change throughout the month as your energy levels change. While every woman is different, as a general rule, keep it gentle during menstruation, pre-ovulation and ovulation are the times to get your heart rate up and lift heavy, while premenstrual phase is where you’ll slow your movement down again.

If you’d like to practise yoga that considers menstrual cycle awareness you can practise with me for free over on my YouTube channel or try the PMS class below.


Our bodies are smart. They know what they need, and at any given time they’re trying to tell us. The problem is, we’re often not listening. Tuning into your menstrual cycle (and the changes it creates in your body and emotions) is one way to start listening. This is why I practise and teach yoga in a way that considers my cycle.

It wasn’t until I started listening that I realised how much my tendency to push myself all month long was causing me to become a complete arsehole during my premenstrual phase. Learning to stop pushing myself to burnout is the only thing that stopped my premenstrual syndrome.

There are many different ways to start listening. Meditate. Journal. Put space in your calendar for play. Rest more. Nap. Talk to a friend. Anything that helps you to start connecting the dots between where you’re not looking after yourself well and where your body is asking you to pay attention.


I used to think I needed to do everything. All the time. Perfectly. Like somehow my worth was wrapped up in all the things I did. Step one is awareness and knowing that you’re doing too much. Step two is letting go of feeling compelled to do all the things. The second part is considerably harder.

You probably won’t be able to quit everything, all at once. You might scale back for a couple of months, but then find yourself getting caught up doing all the things again. That’s okay. It will take time to unravel all the ways that you feel your worth is wrapped up in the doing. Just keep making space.

Where to next?

Practise more cycle aligned yoga classes with me in my Online Yoga Circle Community.

Put down your phone. Go and lay in the sunshine. Drink a cup of tea outside. Ring a friend. Take a nap. Rest. Please make space.

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