Millions of women are affected by PMT every month, yet very often it is dismissed by health practitioners as a “just in your head” sort of thing. The term PMT is used to describe the wide range of physical and emotional discomforts: bloating and indigestion, insomnia and depression, anxiety, cramps, anger and irritability. If there are some pressing problems in your life that require a solution, PMT might make them seem bigger and more acute. No amount of health supplements or medication will help you get rid of these issues, so before you start working on your PMT it is advisable to give your attention to all the unresolved issues in your life. It might be helpful to process your feelings with the help of a qualified counsellor.
But if there is nothing tangible that need sorting in your life and you are still feeling nervous, anxious and tense at this time of the month, then you could try these vitamins and supplements.

Vitamin B6, 50-300mg daily
Magnesium, 500mg and calcium, 250mg, daily
Vitamin B5, 1000mg daily
Evening Primrose oil, 500mg, 1-3 times daily

You could try traditional herbal remedies, such as Dong quai and black cohosh, preferably after a consultation with a qualified herbalist. Ayurvedic herbal remedy Triphala aids digestion and has a calming effect.

Exercise will help improve abdominal circulation and perspiration will remove excess fluids. It is also recommended to avoid certain foods before and during your period – salt and salty foods, cold foods and beverages, alcohol and caffeine in all form. Foods to increase are:
strawberries, watermelon, artichokes, asparagus, parsley and watercress (these are natural diuretics); raw sunflower seeds, dates, figs, peaches, bananas, potatoes, peanuts and tomatoes (rich in potassium).

How to stop OCD behaviour?

panicattackSo what should you do if you find yourself engaging in obsessive-compulsive behavior?
If you think that obsessive thoughts, compulsive tidying or keeping things in order is interfering with your daily functioning, you should definitely talk to a qualified counsellor.
However, there are some things you can think of even before your first session.
First, think about when do you behave in an obsessive-compulsive way? Are you stressed, upset or tired? What is going on for you at that moment? Obsessive-compulsive behavior is often used as a defense against unwanted thoughts or feelings. Thinking about what these feelings are and dealing with them will help you stop your OCD behavior.
Secondly, think about being in control. What does it mean for you? Do you have a feeling that you have to control everything in your life and that letting go off control will result in some kind of catastrophe? Keeping constantly busy, completing repetitive tasks, planning etc. are different ways of keeping control of our lives. If you will reflect on your need to control things and how relevant it really is, you might find different ways of being in charge yet allowing yourself more freedom.
Another important aspect to think about is perfectionism. How important it is for you to be perfect in everything you do? What would it feel like not to be perfect? Is it possible to measure perfection? Often perfectionism is a pattern we learned in childhood in response to parental demands. It is an admirable quality to always strive to do your best, but it can also become a barrier to your creativity and stop you having fun.
Reflecting on these and other patterns of your behavior might help you gain more insight into the reasons behind your OCD and also help you develop new ways of being.

Is your behaviour Obsessive-Compulsive?

OCDWhen I used to work with mothers suffering with post-natal depression, one of the common features of my clients was an overwhelming drive to be perfect – perfect mother, perfect home maker, perfect wife etc. Such client would be unable to stop and sit down until the house was absolutely tidy, which, considering small children, almost never happened. There was always more ironing to do, more bathrooms to clean, more toys to tidy. One client ended up ironing until 3 o’clock at night when she realized that something is not right and decided to seek help. Compulsive neatness, desire to control everything and to be perfect are common feature of the Obsessive-Compulsive Personality disorder.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder. The ‘Obsessive’ part of OCD is characterized by persistent thoughts that cause the sufferer distress and from which there is little relief. There is usually a feeling that if compulsive behavior (for example tidying) will stop, something really dreadful is going to happen.
These thoughts and feelings then lead to compulsive actions, which have to be performed again and again. These actions or rituals can involve checking, washing, cleaning, (there can be an overwhelming fear of germs and contamination) touching objects a number of times, counting “magic” numbers or performing certain rituals. Even getting out of the house becomes a lengthy ritual, as all the lights have to be checked, things tidied up, shoes lined up together etc etc.
OCD sufferer has an overwhelming desire to control everything around him or her, so endless checks are performed to make sure things are under control.
Someone with OCD often has a compulsive desire to be perfect in everything. I have seen many mums whose children were always perfectly dressed, who baked the best muffins and whose houses were impeccable. Yet they were often too exhausted to play with their children or do something fun together. People in this situation put enormous pressure on their children and their families, but most of all on themselves. The result is usually exhaustion and often depression, when a person can’t be perfect anymore and just gives up.
So what can you do if you find yourself engaging in some OCD behavior? I will talk about it in my next post.

How Are You Talking to Yourself?

We sometimes get upset at how other people treat us – somebody pushed you on a bus, your boss told you off for not finishing this report on time, your partner shouted at you for no reason. All of this can be really upsetting, but have you ever thought about how are you treating yourself?
When you are feeling down, upset or agitated, stop for a moment and listen. What is going on inside your head? How are you talking to yourself right now? What is your tone of voice? What are you saying?
More often than not, you will find that your inner voice is rather critical, sometimes more so, than your boss or your partner can ever be. You will be surprised to discover that you are often more “unfair”, negative and generally harsh with yourself than anyone else can ever be with you.
If we are constantly criticizing ourselves internally, we will usually take any external criticism very personally. On the other hand, if we are used to talk to ourselves in a positive and supportive manner, negative information coming from the outside will not affect us as much.
We can’t change the way other people think, feel or behave. If we don’t like the way someone is treating us, the only secure way to stop it happening is to cut communication completely. What we can change though, is the way we view ourselves. If we will stop criticizing ourselves and instead learn to give ourselves support and encouragement, our confidence levels will increase dramatically and we will be better prepared to deal with any external criticism.
Transactional Analysis understands internal dialogue as a communication between ego-states. I will talk more about it in my next post.