5 Things About Mood Swings and How to Handle Them

We’ve all gone through those days – when something small becomes incredibly irritating, then all of a sudden you’re crying over a really cute baby...

Monthly mood swings are just part of the reality of PMS. Here are five things to know to help you manage them!

We’ve all gone through those days – when something small becomes incredibly irritating, then all of a sudden you’re crying over a really cute baby elephant from a Youtube video. Everyone goes through mood swings, but they’re even worse when it’s that time of the month and you’re going through PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome). Here are a few things you should know to help manage your mood swings during that time of the month:

They’re normal, so don’t feel bad about them.

There’s a lot of stuff going on in your body during your period, a lot of them having to do with hormones. This sudden emotional roller coaster you’re feeling can be connected to the rise and fall of your hormones, specifically estrogen, throughout your cycle. Estrogen levels drop sharply before your period, and scientists believe this leads to a sharp drop in serotonin, the hormone that controls happiness levels. Lower serotonin levels are associated with depression, irritability, and even cravings!

So there’s a biological reason for why sometimes you feel overwhelmed by things, get easily irritated or impatient, or why you feel like you could punch someone if you don’t get that piece of chocolate. You’re not going crazy or being completely irrational. It’s perfectly normal.

They start one or two weeks before your period.

You’ll know you’re going through PMS-related mood swings when you start feeling these emotional ups and downs one or two weeks before your period up until a day or two after your menstruation starts – typically day 14 to day 28 of the menstrual cycle.

So a way to help manage them is by tracking these symptoms. Aside from tracking when you’ll get your period, start keeping track of your emotions throughout your cycle too. Knowing there’s a reason you’re feeling extra moody or irritated can help keep things in perspective, so that the next time you feel a sudden flare of anger or sadness, or feel like saying or doing something you might regret later on, pause and think, “Is this me or is it the PMS?”

You can track your cycle and all the symptoms around it using a chart, having a dedicated notebook, or use a period-tracking app on your phone.

Emotions only last 90 seconds, so don’t let them control you.

It’s important to take a pause when you’re feeling that rush of emotion because while mood swings are normal and there’s a biological reason for them, you’re also now old enough to start learning to control your emotions and not let them get the best of you.

According to Harvard neuroanatomist, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, emotions only last 90 seconds. When you feel an emotion, a thought triggers an emotional circuit in your brain, which creates a physiological response in your body. The amount of time it takes from this trigger in your brain to feeling its response lasts 90 seconds. Anything you feel after that is you holding onto that emotion.

She points out that no one can make you feel angry or sad or irritated. The only one able to stimulate the emotional neuro-circuity in your brain – is you. No one can make you feel angry or sad without your permission.

So the next time you feel a flash of emotion, recognize that it’s a biological response in your body, pause, take a deep breath as you wait for it to pass – then let it go.

Boost your serotonin levels with exercise.


When a mood swing is caused by a drop in serotonin levels, find ways to boost them! And one of those is getting a good sweat from exercise. In numerous studies, exercise has been shown to increase both serotonin production and release. In particular, aerobic exercises such as running and biking are the most likely to boost serotonin.

The thought of exercising on your period might sound uncomfortable, so it’s perfectly okay to lessen the intensity during this time. Instead of a jog or a run, go for a walk. Instead of going all out in your spin class, it’s okay to take more breaks. What’s important is you get out there and move.

Make exercise part of your routine, not just to combat a bad mood, but for overall happiness too.

Sleep greatly affects our moods – so get some sleep!

 get some sleep

Amidst all the homework, shows to watch, hanging out with friends, getting a good amount of sleep is often left forgotten and taken for granted. Getting enough sleep is an important part of our health, wellbeing, and even our moods. Think back and remember how different it feels to wake up to a new day after a good amount of sleep. Now think about how it feels to wake up after only four hours of sleep. Not so great, right?

Numerous studies have shown people who are sleep deprived experience an increase of negative moods (anger, frustration, irritability, sadness) and decrease in positive moods. Sleep-deprived people are more likely to seethe in traffic jams, quarrel with others, and get irritated by the smallest things. So don’t deprioritize sleep or take it for granted! Adjust your schedule and create a routine to ensure you get that seven hours of sleep every night.

It isn’t great having to through that monthly emotional roller coaster, but don’t worry, recognizing what you’re feeling, and doing some small lifestyle changes, can do a big part in making that ride smoother.

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“Mood Swings: PMS and Your Emotional Health.” Everyday Health, https://www.everydayhealth.com/pms/mood-swings.aspx, Accessed March 2020.

“Teen Brain: Behavior, Problem Solving, and Decision Making.” American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/The-Teen-Brain-Behavior-Problem-Solving-and-Decision-Making-095.aspx. Accessed March 2020.

“Why Stay Angry?”. Huffington Post, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/why-stay-angry_b_9602104. Accessed March 2020.

“What Lack of Sleep Does to Your Mind”. WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/emotions-cognitive#1. Accessed March 2020.

“Boosting Your Serotonin Activity.” Psychology Today, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201111/boosting-your-serotonin-activity. Accessed March 2020.