Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a condition where a woman presents some discomforting physical and emotional symptoms just before her periods (mostly starting seven days before the periods begin). 
 
Understanding this in a bit of detail- Women usually have a 28-day Menstruation Cycle. A break-up of this cycle can be explained as follows:

1-7 days - Your menses occur.
8-11 days - Womb lining thickens, preparing to receive the egg.
12-17 days - Ovulation occurs (Egg is released from one of the ovaries, reaches the Fallopian tube, waiting to be fertilised). 
18-25 days - If not fertilised, the corpus luteum fades away.
26-28 days - The uterine lining starts disintegration and your periods take place.
 
In this 28-day menstrual cycle, you might see PMS symptoms from the 14th day onwards and these symptoms can last for few days after your periods are over.
 
Around 80% of the women report experiencing some symptoms and discomfort before their menses begin and 20%- 30% among these have symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), which are severe enough to interfere in their daily life and activities.  A severe extension of PMS is Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) which has more severe symptoms.
 
Having understood this bit, how can you identify the symptoms of PMS. Well! Symptoms of PMS can be both physical and/or emotional in nature. Additionally symptoms can widely vary from woman to woman. Here are some of the common symptoms:
 
- Physical Symptoms:
• Skin Breakouts
• Bloating 
• Abdominal Pain
• Constipation
• Cramps
• Breast Pain
• Headaches
• Body Fatigue
• Food Cravings (especially for sweet things)
• Sleep Disturbance
 
- Emotional Symptoms:
• Frequent Mood Swings
• Feeling Anxious
• Feeling Irritable
• Feeling Depressed
• Feeling Sad/Low
• Feeling Tensed or Stressed (without a specific reason)
• Becoming Over Reactive
 
CAUSE:
The specific cause of PMS, is still unknown. But broadly speaking it is the hormonal imbalance that plays a major role. Two hormones are majorly involved, namely Estrogen and Progesterone. In PMS, increased estrogen levels and decreased progesterone levels are implicated. This imbalance can be triggered by factors such as Stress, Alcohol, Caffeine, Diet and other Lifestyle Factors.
 
WAYS TO DEAL:
PMS can’t be cured but can be managed through medicines and lifestyle changes. Medicines can help in the short run but lifestyle and habit changes are the most helpful in dealing with PMS. Here are 5 ways to deal with PMS in a natural way:

1. Watch your Stress Level:
If you have been stressed all this while, your approaching menses might make your stress levels higher and your thinking hazier. You are more likely to feel irritable and more stressed before your periods arrive if something has already been bothering you. However, other times when all is well, you will be emotionally more stable before your periods set in. If you think that you might be facing PMS for the past many month, it is important for you to start becoming aware about your stress levels, what causes them and addressing them. Making Stress Management a habit will help in dealing with the emotional symptoms of PMS better. You can mange stress by relaxing through:

• Massages
• Watching a good movie
• Reading
• Eating something that you like (not over-eating, ok!)
• Simply taking a good sleep (minimum eight hour of sleep is recommended)

2. And your Diet: Diet plays an important role in hormonal balance and overall well-being. Stomach has a good role to play in one’s emotional health and hence the food we also eat matters for a good emotional health. It’s not that you start watching your diet only when your menses are nearing, rather a habitual and consistent healthy diet would be a better deal for an overall physical and emotional well-being. Some of the things to watch in your diet are:
 
• Drinking plenty of Water and other Fluids (helps easing the bloat)
• Adding plenty of  Fresh Fruits and Vegetables in your diet (for good digestion)
• Cutting on Sugar and Salt
• Cutting on Caffeine 
• No Alcohol
• Adding Flax Seeds to your diet (for not only relieving constipation but also their balancing effect on hormones especially Estrogen)
• Taking Supplements- Multivitamins, omega-3 and Folic Acid (but only under a doctor’s supervision)
• Not skipping meals throughout the day
 
3. Exercise- Get those legs moving: Regular exercising, as basic as a 20-30 minutes walk is very effective in:

• Curbing Negative Mood 
• Uplifting How You Feel
• Enhancing Your Blood Circulation 
• Addressing The Bloating 
• Helping In Invigorating Your Entire Body.
 
In fact, physical activities and exercises are widely recommended by mental health practitioners to curb irritability, sadness and a low mood, symptoms that are often present during PMS. As for the physical benefits of exercising, well! It doesn’t need any more mention. So get those legs moving, if not run, then jog, if not jog then walk. Do anything and crush those symptoms of PMS with every step you take. You will notice the difference!

4. Give Meditation and Mindfulness a try: Meditation is a very good medicine that has existed since time immemorial. The best part is it is free and yet effective. However, many often wonder what exactly is meditation? How is it practiced? Guess it is very complicated, not my cup of tea, and so on. But the flip-side is quite optimistic. Meditation is simply focusing your mind on something specific and being attentive in doing so. The easiest thing to focus on is our Breathe. So meditation in its simplest form is to focus on your breathe. When we make meditation a part of our everyday life and activities, it becomes mindfulness...being mindful about the things around us. During PMS, practising meditation and mindfulness can help in the following ways:
 
• Overall Health and Well-being
• Emotionally Stability
• Feeling Calm and Content 
• Improved Understanding of Self
• Improved Understanding of Others
• Enhanced Social behaviour 
• Increased Self control
• Healthier Brain 
• Reduction in Stress
• Improvement in Logical Thinking 
 
5. Watch your thoughts!: You will very often find your mind going bonkers when your periods are approaching. You start feeling irritable, low or cranky just at the drop of a hat. Hence, it becomes imperative for you to watch your thoughts especially around the times menses are approaching. 
 
You watch your thoughts by simply analysing what are you thinking about and how does it make you feel. If the thought irks you, switch your thinking to a better-feeling thought. For example- You are stressed about work or something at your workplace, your menses are approaching and you feel more irritable and negative with every passing day. You can’t stand anything and loose you calm even at the slightest provocation. At this stage you got to pause, assess why you are feeling this way and try to look for a solution. Then leave the thought behind and start thinking about something positive, maybe the weekend party this week or the nice get-together that you had with your friends last week (any pleasant memories will do).
 
Summary: 5 Natural Ways to Deal with PMS:
 
1. Watch your Stress Level
2. Watch your Diet
3. Exercise- Get those legs moving
4. Give Meditation and Mindfulness a try!
5. Watch your Thoughts!