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PMS: What self-care steps offer relief?

It’s called premenstrual syndrome. But if it disrupts your life, you may have another name for PMS: pretty miserable symptoms.

PMS can come with a long list of physical woes, including bloating, breast tenderness, breakouts and fatigue. Emotional changes can include mood swings, irritability and anxiety.

You might notice these no-fun symptoms in the week or so leading up to your period. While they typically go away after it starts, that’s still a long time not to feel your best.

The good news: You may find some relief by making fairly simple changes to your daily habits.

Your self-care plan

Try these four healthy ways to help keep PMS in check:

1. Put a fork in it. What and how you eat may help ease moodiness and other symptoms. A few food-wise tips:

  • Eat calcium-rich foods, such as green, leafy veggies and low-fat or fat-free yogurt.
  • Get plenty of complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits and veggies.
  • Have frequent small meals and snacks. Don’t overeat — but aim to have something at least every three hours.
  • Cut back on caffeine, salt and added sugars.

What about supplements? Some — such as calcium and magnesium — may help. But to be safe, get a green light from your doctor before you take any product that claims to be a remedy for PMS.

2. Move through it.* Regular aerobic exercise can help ease symptoms. Try a brisk walk, a bike ride or laps in the pool — whatever lifts your energy and helps you feel good.

3. Ease into it. Stress can make PMS worse. So finding ways to relax and unwind during the day is important. You might try regular breaks to breathe slowly and deeply. Yoga, meditation or journaling may also help you stay centered and calm.

4. Say goodnight to it. Skimping on shut-eye will only make moodiness and low energy worse. So focus on good sleep habits, such as turning off your devices and keeping your room quiet and dark. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, unwind before bed with a soothing activity, such as a relaxing bath.

Still miserable?

If you don’t find relief — or your symptoms are severe — talk with your doctor. There may be medicines and other treatments that can help.

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