Oh Yes It’s That Time Again.
Without fail every month around ovulation and a day or two before my period I start to feel overwhelmed. Things seem to become more stressful in my life. I start to think of all the things that I hate. I get impatient with my current situation. I wish I was doing more with my life.These feelings are intense and can take over my mind driving me at times to bouts of tears.
Is this hormonal? Likely. This question lead to me into further research on the effects of serotonin in the menstrual cycle. Turns out that serotonin is linked. If progesterone levels are low (a symptom common with endometriosis) then serotonin levels lower as well. Too little serotonin in the brain leads to anxiety and depression.
I had lots of symptoms of low progesterone this cycle including slightly sore breasts prior to my period and clots on the first day of my flow. So seeing as how my progesterone levels were low, it would make sense that my serotonin levels were low as well.
Another interesting tidbit – Low serotonin levels lead to cravings for carbs/sugar. The days prior to my period I have hunger that is uncontrollable and sugar cravings that I am not always able to conquer 🙂 This hunger is not easily filled. I eat and eat and want to eat some more.
I thought this hunger was due to the fact that my body is working extra hard the week prior to my period what with all the business going on in my uterus preparing itself for pregnancy (one can only hope), or to shed off its lining if I’m not. But low and behold, low serotonin levels are reasoning behind this uncontrollable hunger. Hmmm…interesting.
How to Naturally Increase Serotonin?
Balanced serotonin in the brian calms anxiety and helps ease depressed feelings. Serotonin is replenished in the brain during sleep, so its important to get a good, sound seven to eight hours of sleep a night. The sleeping area should be as dark and quiet as possible. For digestive purposes its best to lay to rest no later than 11 PM and rise no later than 7AM.
90% of serotonin is developed not in the brain, but in the gut. For this reason, it is important to eat healthy and take measures to increase positive gut flora including a daily high quality probiotic, and/or fermented foods. Sugar should be avoided. (Something I will have to fight hard for next month, as unfortunately these cravings won this month).
Some reports claim that sunshine can help raise serotonin as well as getting the full range of B complex vitamins. Exercise is another key factor, as is handling stress. Conquering the stresses in my mind in turn will help with serotonin levels. Stress is one of the worst things for our bodies, and it surely flares up my endo.
On the Positive Side?
When these negative feelings come up I think it is important to recognize them and spend some time focusing on them. I recognize that I am feeling negative. This in of itself is an accomplishment. I am recognizing my suffering. Try it. Focus on it – then let it go. Stop to ask yourself the most important question, “What am I doing RIGHT now?”
Much of the stresses in my mind cannot be solved in this present moment. Instead my focus needs to shift to all the good around me. I have so much in my life that I am very thankful for. (First on my list is my wonderful husband followed by my awesome dog, Alice 🙂 The sun is shining outside. Smile (this helps). Things are going to be alright.
And now more than every – take the time to get that extra hour of sleep. Your body (and mind) will thank you for it.