words by Ro González (she/her)
“Mental health is crucial for a well functioning body and mind. I forgot about that, or maybe I never truly understood it until it was too late."
I write this in my underwear, my cat is sleeping next to me and I’ve just eaten a whole bag of popcorn. I’m supposed to be studying at the moment but instead, I write. Things I’m thinking about: mental health. Feeling good about yourself and your body. Body love. Body acceptance. Taking care of yourself.
How does this all affect your daily life? How much does it affect your body? The answer is: a lot.
Mental health and wellness are essential components of our relationship to our physical selves.
Is your mental health affecting hormonal changes? How are stress levels affecting emotional wellbeing in regards to my reproductive health? Is your overall health suffering the consequences of not taking care of yourself during hormonal changes? Yes. Absolutely.
According to research by the American National Institute of Mental Health, 64% of people who suffer from depression say during the premenstrual period their symptoms of depression gets worse.
Common symptoms of hormonal changes people with a mental illness can exhibit
- Insomnia or oversleeping
- Changes in appetite
- A surplus of energy; a lack of energy
Personally, getting my period is a whole ordeal, and it is an experience that takes up almost the entire month. First, it is the premenstrual phase (PMS); increased hunger, mood swings, irritability, libido goes up, and I become an anxious mess.
Then, I get my period: complete lack of appetite, insomnia, lack of energy and of course, more anxiety ensues. This takes up 18 days of my month. 18 days out of 30. That is 60% of my month. On top of that, I have GAD. Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Hence why I become an so anxious during this time. So, I cannot blame my anxiety on hormones specifically.
All of this said, what do I do? It is all quite overwhelming and often times, maybe like you, I just want to lay down and not worry about life anymore. Well, what we should do is TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES.
How Do I Take Care of Myself?
Feeling down? Track it. I recommend downloading an app for your period or even just journaling your phases, progress, and feelings. Track when you are feeling down, when you feel okay, and when you feel awesome. Remembering that you aren't in it alone, and it's all normal!
Go to a gynecologist or naturopath. Whatever your preferred method of care is. Take the time to assess your physical and mental symptoms during this time of the month! Irregular periods can be completely normal but it can be nice to have a professional help you feel at ease if you are noticing unusual changes.
Take your time. It is okay to not be okay all the time. Rest. Take your time. Be conscientious of yourself and the way you are feeling. Your feelings are valid.
Move! It is so important to move your body. Whether it is a simple stretch, a workout class or a run in the fresh air. This is possibly one of the best ways to gain clarity and to naturally improve your mood.
There are a lot of ways in which you can take care of your mind and body, you just have to start somewhere, with something small, remembering you are not in this alone.
How to Cope With Stress & Live in the Moment by Griffin Wynne (they/them)
The Bitter Combo of Sugar & Stress by Maria-Antionette Issa (she/her)
Eating Disorders, Anxiety & Depression by Ro (she/her)