Do you get anxiety when you're due on your period? Why do you get anxiety before your period? And what can you do about it?
Let's start by talking about the menstrual cycle as a whole. Yes, there’s more to it than just your period. Likely if you’re a woman you know at least something about the menstrual cycle, but I guess we come to relate it mostly to periods. Either you’re on your period, or your not. Period = no baby. No period = baby. But it’s actually more complex than that.
Before we go too much further I will make a point of saying this: if you use a hormonal contraceptive then you might find your cycle is different from the ideas I'm going to share below. This is because of the way the hormones in your contraceptive interfere with your natural cycle.
If you experience a natural menstrual cycle, it can be broken down into 4 phases.
• The Follicular Phase
• The Luteal Phase
Through each of these phases different hormones are released by your body, which can cause changes in your mood.
These four phases can be likened to the seasons of the year. Menstruation is the winter - you likely will have less energy during this phase and will need to take more time to rest than usual. Think of it like hibernation.
The follicular phase is springtime. You're coming back to life, you're more carefree and less stressed during this time.
Ovulation is the summer, the peak of your energy and your mood. You will likely feel at your most confident during this time.
And lastly is the luteal phase which can be likened to Autumn. Things are changing within your body, just like the leaves on the trees. With change comes uncertainty, and with uncertainty often comes anxiety which can be reflected in your mood.
Some people also liken the phases of your cycle to different archetypes. These are essentially a very typical example of a personality. In other words, a character type. Here are the different archetypes that we can often see come through in our cycle.
• Menstruation - The Wise Woman (think of Grandmother Willow from Pocahontas)
• Follicular Phase - The Maiden (think of Rapunzel from Tangled)
• Ovulation - The Mother (think of Fairy Godmother from Cinderella)
• Luteal Phase - The Wild Woman (think of Ygrette from Game of Thrones)
I won't go into these archetypes in detail in this post, but you can find out more about archetypes at https://knowyourarchetypes.com/
So that's the slightly more poetic approach to what's going on with your mood right before your period. But what about a more sciency approach? Well, your cycle begins on the first day of your period. This is day 1, and it starts with menstruation. After menstruation we move into the follicular phase where we see a rise in a hormone call oestrogen. Oestrogen continues to rise until we reach ovulation. This is when an egg is released. After ovulation we move into the luteal phase where we see a rise in progesterone. It’s this rise in progesterone that can cause us to feel more anxious.
This rise is progesterone is an entirely natural, healthy part of the menstrual cycle. However, it does come with some side effects. Likely you’ve heard of PMS, and some of these symptoms can be caused by the rising levels of progesterone.
Progesterone can act as a depressant in the levels presented during your cycle. It can cause you to feel irritable, anxious, moody and depressed. Which goes some way to explaining why anxiety levels are higher right before your period.
I can always tell when I'm going through this phase of my cycle because I start to get snappy, impatient and generally just feel very overwhelmed. I know I'm not alone in this, loads of my Instagram followers said they feel this too. It's totally normal, and after finding out how the cycle actually works, we can see why we might feel this way.
So, you might be thinking "well, that's great, but what can I do about it?". Well, I personally think awareness is a major factor here. Tracking your cycle daily, and jotting down your general mood for each day can help you identify patterns in your mood. If you're more aware of how you're likely to feel in the different stages of your cycle you can prepare and plan accordingly. Making extra time for stress-relieving activities during the Autumn phase can be really useful. Putting off dealing with anxiety-inducing tasks until you're in the more confident summer phase is also something I do regularly.
So, there you have it. This is why you might be getting more anxiety just before your period, and what you can do to help reduce it. See if you can relate this to your own cycle.
If you're interested in tracking your cycle, you can download your FREE cycle tracking sheet here: www.cherrelleslaney.co.uk/tracker