About once every 28 days, many women experience a variety of the following symptoms: bloating, cramping, irritation, food cravings, acne and achiness.
If that doesn't sound unpleasant enough, add working five days a week in a freezing office with a coworker who doesn't know how to chew with his mouth closed into the equation. At the same time, you're trying to make 'business casual' actually cute, while the fluorescent lights erase any signs of applying under-eye concealer that morning.
When that time of the month comes around, work is the last place you want to be dealing with severe cramps and a volcanic zit.
Unfortunately, most of us are only afforded about 10 sick days a year, so it just isn't possible to sacrifice one in order to stay under the covers and moan about how fat we feel.
Since that's the case, we have to figure out ways to deal with the unpleasantness bought along with our periods.
Problem: You're bloated.
Solution #1: Plan your lunch accordingly. Make sure you're putting calcium and vitamin D into your body, and steer clear of foods packed with sodium. Opt for yogurt, nuts, vegetables or salmon in place of the packaged meal you bought because you were too lazy to make a grocery list.
Solution #2: Water is also your swelling stomach's best friend, so keep that bottle constantly refilled. If you just can't down another 32-ounce Nalgene of plain water, toss in some cucumbers. These can reduce acne, headaches and keep you hydrated. You need all three when you're about to get your period.
Problem: You're cramping.
Solution #1: Plugging in a heating pad into the communal power source screams, "I'M ON MY PERIOD!" Unless you're the CEO and have a private office, this isn't the best option. Save the heating pad for when you get home, and sip on a cup of herbal tea, the caffeine in coffee will only make your symptoms worse.
You can go back to making your Starbucks runs during the other three weeks of the month.
Solution #2: Pop a Midol. Or, if you've opted for a looser-fitting outfit, try a portable heating pad that sticks to your stomach.
Problem: There are two massive zits on your face.
Solution: There's not much you can really do about this one. If it's a super red blemish, you can douse it with Visine, but otherwise, you're probably going to have to wait this one out with a healthy dose of cover-up.
If this is the only time of the month your skin freaks out, be thankful. Imagine dealing with this 24/7.
Problem: Everyone is irritating you.
Solution #1: Admitting you're on your period is the first step. Sure, that one guy always butts into your conversations, but you wouldn't normally snap at him for interrupting you as per usual. If you acknowledge to yourself that you're PMSing, you'll be more likely to keep yourself in check.
Solution #2: Get outside and go for a walk. You'll get a second to breathe, and it might even help reduce your bloating. You might think exercise is the last thing you want to be doing, but trust me, skipping the workout just isn't worth it.
Problem: You're craving every snack food known to man.
Solution: Don't fall for it. Those potato chips and Peanut Butter M&Ms are only going to make your bloating worse. Instead, keep several healthy snacks (think raw, unsalted almonds, hard boiled eggs or hummus) at your desk. Whenever the cravings hit, you'll be armed and ready.
Plus, eating smaller meals throughout the day helps fend off cravings in general. If you're already feeling two sizes bigger than you normally are, gorging on fattening foods is the opposite of what you want to be doing.
Problem: Everything aches.
Solution: Follow the information above. A healthy diet, staying hydrated, exercising and taking the proper medications will give you some relief from the incessant aching and general discomfort brought on by PMS.
And when it's 6 pm, you shut that laptop, sprint out the door and bury yourself under your covers. Congrats, you survived! You'll be able to do it all over again in a few weeks.