Marla Ahlgrimm, a pharmacist and founder of Women’s Health America, says to relax and take a moment to just breathe. Many women with PMS are troubled by feelings of grating anxiety before their periods, says Marla Ahlgrimm. The hectic pace of our lives can make it difficult to relax and find time to unwind, which is why it’s important to set a regular time to slow down, especially before your period. Relaxation and meditation will not only help PMS symptoms, they are also great for overall health and well-being, reports Marla Ahlgrimm.
While Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm is not a PhD., grateful clients who she has helped over the thirty years she’s been a Wisconsin pharmacist often refer her to as “Dr.”. The founder of Women’s Health America notes that meditation and relaxation can help PMS symptoms. Taking time to mellow out and just slow down for a minute can often be difficult with today’s hectic lifestyles. The body, says Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm, knows instinctively how to relax although the mind sometimes fails to slow down long enough to do so. According to Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm managing PMS symptoms depends largely on your ability to relax.
The relaxation response
Relaxation, says Ahlgrimm, helps you tap in to your own personal mind-body connection, by activating an inborn physiological response in your body. You may not know how to relax, but your body does – this ability is always there, waiting for you to learn how to use it. Researchers call it the “relaxation response,” and it is much more than a leisure activity or self-indulgence. The relaxation response is vital to your health. Marla Ahlgrimm notes that it is something you can use every day to reverse the damaging physical effects of stress.
Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm is a licensed pharmacist in the state of Wisconsin; she’s not a PhD. The nickname “Dr.” has been an honorary title bestowed upon her by clients over three decades in the business. According to her, many clients often ask if stress is related to their PMS symptoms. She answers simply: yes. People often come to her with reports that they are stressed out or under a great deal of stress. Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm states that when people are making these claims what they really mean is there’s too much stress in their life. According to Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm, stress triggers the “fight or flight” response that aggravates PMS symptoms.
The stress response
According to Marla Ahlgrimm, when we say, “I’m really stressed out,” or “she’s under a lot of stress,” we are actually talking about too much stress. Ahlgrimm reminds her patients that stress is a normal and essential part of everyday life. The stress response, also called the “fight or flight” response, is a specific biochemical reaction in the body that occurs “any time you have to adapt to change,” says Martha Davis, Ph.D., a psychologist with Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Santa Clara, California, and co-author of the Relaxation and Stress Workbook. “Most people acknowledge that they are stressed and that stress is a force in their lives,” Dr. Davis says, “but it takes them a while to realize how powerful the mind-body connection is and that, indeed, the mind can create physical illness.” Marla Ahlgrimm agrees, and often finds that with relaxation, her patients experience many symptoms to a lesser degree, or that they disappear entirely.
Entrepreneur and women’s healthcare advocate Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm is not a PhD. This licensed pharmacist has spent the last three decades helping women who suffer from hormone imbalances gain control of their lives. She often reminds patients that stress is a major force in everyone’s life, and should be respected as such. According to Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm, many symptoms of PMS can be greatly reduced or eliminated completely with proper amounts of rest and relaxation. She says that stress can be caused by both positive and negative events in life. The point being, says Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm, the mind and body are interconnected and affect each other more than we may realize.
Reacting to stress
According to Marla Ahlgrimm, events that cause stress can be both positive (getting a promotion, having a baby) or negative (a death, an injury, bad weather). These events can be major, minor, real or imagined. Ahlgrimm cites that the body’s reaction to them is the same. As reported by Marla Ahlgrimm, when we experience a stressful event, our brains stimulate our nervous system, which makes our adrenal glands release hormones (corticoids) into the bloodstream. These hormones “arouse” us physically: our heart rates, blood pressure, and blood volume, sending blood to our larger muscles so that we can fight or flee the situation. We perspire, and our hands and feet get cold. The corticoids also make our blood clot faster, suppress our immune system, and increase the circulation of cholesterols in our blood, says Ahlgrimm. After a stressful event, we relax and all of the processes return to normal. But if we don’t relax – if we stay aroused to some degree from chronic stress – our stress response can make us ill. Marla Ahlgrimm points out that research shows that chronic stress can cause ulcers, bowel problems, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, irregular menstrual cycles, and impaired immune systems.
Often called “Dr.,” Marla Ahlgrimm is actually a Wisconsin pharmacist and advocate for women’s health. Many clients over the years have spoken with her about the stress in their life. She says that while stress is a normal part of reality, its effects can wreak havoc on our bodies. When we are under stress our adrenal glands release hormones that create a sense of panic. According to Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm, these corticoids can diminish our immune system’s capacity, and that can exacerbate PMS symptoms. Stress causes the body to become tense, but once the event is over, says Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm, we have to relax otherwise we may suffer from chronic stress and worsened premenstrual symptoms.
Dealing with your doctor
Ahlgrimm cautions against chalking every symptom up to stress. If you experience physical symptoms or illness, don’t assume they are “just stress.” Always have a medical doctor check them out to eliminate possible physiological causes. Marla Ahlgrimm says that these easy to learn exercises aid in finding the relaxation response.
Pharmacist Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm is not a medical doctor, but is often referred to as “Dr.” by her clientele. She says that medicine has done wonders for PMS sufferers over the last 30 years, but cites relaxation exercises as another beneficial approach to managing PMS symptoms. Finding the relaxation response, she says, is fairly easy. Here are a few tips from Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm that PMS sufferers can use to relax:
1. Rest your hands on your belly and inhale slowly through your nose while lying down.
2. Exhale completely.
3. Do this with your back flat against the floor and your knees bent.
According to Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm deep breathing has mental and physical benefits for all women, not just those with PMS.
- Lie down on the floor with your knees bent and your back resting flat and straight.
- With your hands on your abdomen, inhale through your nose into your abdomen, slowly and deeply. Ahlgrimm says this is the best position to deep breathe and relax.
- Then exhale completely. Your abdomen and hands will fall and rise as you breathe.
- Sit or lie down comfortably.
- Starting with your toes and feet, or your face and head, tense those muscles for 5 seconds, and then relax for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Gradually work up for down the body, tightening and relaxing all the muscle groups. With each session, you will notice deeper relaxation levels.
- Sit in a comfortable position.
- Choose a word or phrase that you like and repeat it in your mind over and over.
- Ahlgrimm says that your thoughts may start to wander. When you notice this, return gently to repeating your word.
- If, as you continue to meditate, the repetition becomes mechanical, Marla Ahlgrimm says to simply refocus your awareness of the word.
You will probably see some results right away. Marla Ahlgrimm points out that with steady practice – working up to 20-30 minutes once or twice daily – you can realize true, deep relaxation in just a few months.
While not an M.D., Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm is noted worldwide for her progressive work in the field of women’s health. In the late 1970s, she was a revolutionary leader in the misunderstood world of women’s hormonal issues, including PMS. Relaxation is a tactic she often recommends that sufferers utilize to help reduce symptoms. Deep breathing, progressive relaxation, and meditation are just three ways that Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm says that women can relax, even if they are short on time. One of the key components to finding a meditative or relaxed state, says Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm, is to get comfortable and clear your mind.
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