Frustratingly, experts aren’t sure why people with PCOS appear to have a higher risk of being diagnosed with mental illness, but it’s thought that it could be linked to stress caused by managing PCOS symptoms, hormonal differences, or a combination of the two.
Regardless – your mental wellbeing is a priority, and should be treated as such. So, here are 6 ways to take care of your mental health when you have PCOS.
5 ways to take care of your mental health when you have PCOS
1. Set – and enforce – boundaries
Managing PCOS symptoms and side effects can be incredibly distressing, therefore it’s important to set boundaries to protect your mental wellbeing. Healthy boundaries can look like minimising time spent with people who can’t offer the kind of support you require, or unfollowing social accounts that negatively impact your self esteem.
Healthy boundaries can also include prioritising rest when symptoms cause discomfort, and respectfully declining invites to social events you find triggering if you’re trying to conceive, for instance.
2. Move your body
Exercise has many benefits for people with PCOS – including its ability to significantly improve your mood.
Movement triggers the release of endorphins (known as feel-good hormones) in the body, which help to reduce stress and anxiety and increase feelings of pleasure.
Not sure where to start? Try steady-state cardio (cycling, jogging or walking for example), yoga, or strength training. Dancing in the kitchen works, too.
3. Prioritise sleep
Your body does its best recovery work – both physical and mental – whilst you’re asleep, so it makes sense that poor quality or disrupted sleep can negatively impact your mental health. It can meddle with your mind, causing difficulties with thinking clearly, plus increased feelings of anger, depression, and anxiety.
Good sleep hygiene – going to bed at the same time every day, powering down devices at least an hour before bed, and participating in activities, like meditation and journalling, that help to encourage feelings of calm – can really help to improve the quality of your kip. Though, speak to your GP if you’re having difficulty falling and staying asleep frequently.
4. Be kind to yourself
Sometimes easier said than done – we tend to be our own harshest critics – but try to show yourself some compassion, and ease up on the judgemental self talk.
Recognise that some days will feel less productive and less positive than others, and that’s OK. Give yourself some recognition for how far you’ve come.
5. Ask for help when you need it
There’s no shame in asking for support. Reach out to loved ones when you need a shoulder, an ear, or a hug, and try – if possible – to find a community of people with PCOS to connect with (PCOS charity Verity has a network of volunteer-run local groups you can join, and we have a private Facebook group for people with PCOS to support one another).
If feelings of depression or anxiety begin to affect your ability to complete daily activities, speak to your GP for additional support.