THE PREMENSTRUAL SYNDROME (PMS) EXPLAINED THROUGH ATTENTION TRAINING
By Dr. Ernest Mastria
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The Premenstrual condition has been joked about and used as an insult toward women for many years. It has been employed to reason away differences of opinion, strong points of view, and even an “off day” in some women.
But what is PMS? The Mayo Clinic, (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/premenstrual-syndrome/DS00134) defines PMS as a wide variety of symptoms, including mood swings, tender breasts, food cravings, fatigue, irritability and depression. Concerning its cause, the Mayo Clinic writes; “Exactly what causes premenstrual syndrome is unknown…”(http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/premenstrual- syndrome/DS000134/DSECTION=causes.
However, I write about this condition in The Habit of Living, p. 136. I see the experience referred to as PMS as the interaction of two conditions. The first is the normal periodic menstrual flow. The second is the decrease of energy that I refer to as pressure.
To me, pressure is any condition that results in a decrease of energy. I site three: Illness and medical, fatigue, and high value. I define medical as normal conditions that women experience such as menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.
When a woman menstruates, her body mobilizes for the event. The woman’s energy is directed and absorbed by the menstrual process. This decrease in energy has the effect as any other pressure. With decreased energy, the body, for economy, goes back to what it knows, the habit. With the habit influencing a woman’s thinking, she will tend to think too much, anticipate negatively, dwell in the past, mind read, procrastinate, take differences personally as angry acts or criticism, avoid expression, and will experience any or all of the symptoms that are employed by the habit to reduce contact with the present.
The woman avoids doing as she would like because of low energy and habit thoughts so that depression, a condition to do as she does not want rather than as she wants is triggered. However, the symptom that is most associated with PMS is irritability. Here, irritability is not seen as attributable to what is called PMS but rather, a normal reaction to the condition of low energy or fatigue.
When energy is reduced, the woman is less able to tolerate frustration and irritability is experienced. It is this low frustration tolerance and the resulting irritability that is seen as the chief symptom of PMS. However, low frustration tolerance and irritability is also experienced as a result of illness, fatigue, and high value. These conditions, like premenstruation, result in decreased energy levels. It is this decreased energy that triggers the irritability that is associated with the premenstrual condition.
As a normal result of low energy, irritability may be dealt with as with any other pressure:
First, recognize that energy is reduced as a result of premenstruation, menstruation, or postmenstuation. Attribute any difficulties in thinking and behavior to the cyclical condition rather than to deficits in yourself.
Second, slow your behavior and thinking down. Racing thoughts can be controlled by reporting to yourself what is occurring in the environment. In this way, you may structure your thoughts with reality and dispose of or prevent habit thoughts.
Third, conserve your energy. Many times, individuals with decreased energy levels will push more energy out in order to handle pressure. It’s if they believe they can “muscle” through situations and responsibilities. Actually, I believe this to be the wrong approach. To me, pushing out more energy is inefficient and only wastes energy. I suggest that when energy is low, conserve it. Rest if you can. Consciously put things off if you can. If you can’t, do them slowly and deliberately. Be sure to witness the event as you behave. This will help to guarantee that you are in the present and focused.
Lastly, don’t anticipate that the next cycle will be difficult to handle. Every situation is new and by using the techniques suggested in this paper, you will be more able to control the next event. There are two ways that you can live through your cycle, comfortably or uncomfortably.