While some ladies effortlessly surf the Crimson Wave with nary a headache, for most of us, it can test the limits of mental and physical endurance, making everything just a little more challenging. Rather than sacrificing approximately one-fourth of your life to Aunt Flo’s torture, or becoming a slave to OTC meds, try some of these all-natural tweaks to make your time of the month much more bearable.


1. Probiotics are your BFF. How your body uses and metabolizes estrogen plays a big role in your cycle, and probiotics can help get that process on track. Bonus: They’ll also improve your skin and digestion. You could even try brewing your own kombucha — now that’s a productive period.


2. Exercise. AKA, the last thing you want to do when you feel bloated and drained. But a low-key yoga class, home workout or walk around the block will boost your serotonin levels, making you a much happier camper. You can also check out some PMS-friendly workouts here.


3. Combat vitamin deficiencies. Deficiencies in magnesium, calcium, vitamin E or vitamin B-6 can exacerbate PMS symptoms, especially headaches or depression. Try snacking on mineral-rich seeds, nuts, dates and dried figs. Avocados, almonds and sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E, while bananas, prunes and sunflower seeds have a ton of B-6. Consult with a pro before adding a bunch of supplements to your diet, but it could be that you need some TLC in vitamin or mineral form. (Photo via Oh My Veggies)


4. Distract yourself. Sometimes all you need to take you mind off the pain is a big project or play date with your fave little one. What better way to show PMS who’s boss than just going ‘bout your damn business?


5. Address your mental health in the off-season. Hormonal changes during that time of the month don’t necessarily cause emotional symptoms, but they sure as heck exacerbate existing or underlying ones. If you’ve been feeling depressed or angry, it’ll come out during PMS. Just relax and work on sorting it all out when Aunt Flo is not in town. (Photo via Ladycare Health)


6. Find healthy versions of your fave comfort foods. If PMS turns you into a Cathy cartoon (“Chocolate! Chocolate! Ack!”), indulge in a homemade healthy ice cream alternative or vegan dark chocolate truffles rather than turning to Ben and Jerry. And unless you want to retain even more water, put down those salty chips and dip fresh veggies in your Sriracha hummus instead. (Photo via Chobani)


7. Turn up the heat. If you experience constipation or cramps, a heating pad reduces painful blood vessel constriction and can help, ahem, move other things along. Doing an occasional castor oil pack on your liver is a great way to relieve menstrual and digestive issues, both on and off your period. (Photo via eHow)


8. Give inflammatory foods the old heave-ho. If you’ve toyed with the idea of giving up or minimizing dairy, gluten or sugar, potential PMS relief might be a good excuse to experiment. Even a two-week break from those foods could significantly improve headaches, cramps or acne. If you really want to get to the bottom of what’s aggravating your skin, read up on these common acne-causing foods.


9. Rule out anything serious. Period problems are sometimes the body’s way of telling you something else is amiss. Address any lingering big-picture issues by doing some research on your symptoms. After you’ve looked into it, take to your doctor or naturopath to get to the bottom of any concerning symptoms.

What are your go-to ways to make PMS less miserable? Which natural methods are you excited to try?