We've just finished Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year’s official theme was ‘Nature’, so we could think of no better time to dive into the topic of how being out in nature can have a positive impact on your mood-related PMS symptoms. After all, our mental health is so often connected to our menstrual cycles, and whether you experience this for a short time each month, or on a constant basis, there are things you can do to help. If you’re curious about a bit of nature therapy, right this way...
The cause of PMS is not known, but research suggests it could be related to fluctuations in hormone and serotonin levels at certain points during your cycle. When estrogen and progesterone levels increase, it can cause those mood swings we know and don’t love. Some days these can come in like a wrecking ball and completely ruin any plans you had, so it’s always a good idea to have a toolkit ready with things you can do to make yourself feel better. One of those things could be getting out in nature.
We get it; you’re at the stage of your cycle where everything is irritating, your low mood is at its lowest, you don’t want to socialise, and you can barely make yourself walk to the shops to grab some food. And someone says “why don’t you go for a walk?” … it’s probably the very last thing you feel like doing. But here are a few reasons why sticking your hair in a bun, donning some leggings and dragging yourself to the nearest green space could actually be the very thing you’re missing:
According to a 2019 study measuring people’s exposure to nature, spending at least 120 minutes per week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing, and this includes mental wellbeing. Not only has research showed a correlation between being in nature and physical benefits like optimum nervous system function, heart health, better vision, lower BMI and more, but it has also been linked to decreased levels of depression, lower stress hormone levels, and even increased attention and focus.
According to an article in Yale Environment 360, another 2019 study even found that patients in a psychiatric unit who spent time in nature experienced reduced feelings of isolation, increased feelings of calm, and lifted mood. Its benefits are becoming so apparent in fact, that ecotherapy programs have begun as a way to manage mental health issues long term. And by the way, ecotherapy is pretty much what it sounds like; a type of therapeutic treatment that involves being in nature and taking part in outdoor activities.
Let’s not forget also, spending more time outdoors has the potential to help with other areas of life linked to our mood and mental health, for example, it helps you get more exercise, it helps you get more vitamin D which is linked to depression, it helps you be more social, it improves sleep, and more. Is there anything nature can’t do??
Fun fact: Heard the term ‘Forest Bathing’ more in recent years? It’s just a fancy way of saying spending time in the forest. From the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, meaning literally, forest bath, this has become popular as a way to improve health and wellbeing. Don’t worry though, you don’t need to bathe, just walk...
According to Harvard’s Health blog, even just a few times a week could be helpful. They suggest spending time in nature for 20-30 minutes, three days a week, but they also say if you’d rather save it all up and have regular weekends in the woods, that’s fine too.
If you’re looking for some ideas of how to spend time in nature, here are our top tips;
Remember, if you struggle with your mental health, whether it is related to PMS symptoms or otherwise, always visit your GP if your low mood affects your daily life or becomes progressively worse over time. They can help find a solution to improve your symptoms.
“Nature can bring you to stillness, that is its gift to you.” – Eckhart Tolle
Have you tried spending more time outdoors in nature to help with your PMS and mood? Shout out in ou rprivate Facebook group or drop us a note on Insta @itsyoppie. Don't forget that our personalised period box can get organic tampons, PMS supplements and more delivered easily and regularly through your letterbox, so that's one less thing to do that frees up some time for this nature bathing stuff!
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