If you’re a woman, you’ve dealt with this: the bloating, the painful cramps, the irritation, the potential messes that can happen, and the overall feeling of discomfort. Our monthly period isn’t something that many of us would refer to as “enjoyable” by any means.
Many of us have a tendency to try and “hide it” as much as possible so that it doesn’t have to really impact our already busy lives. So we use tampons, we take the higher doses of ibprofen, and we take a birth control pill or another kind of synthetic hormone in hopes to hinder the symptoms of our monthly period.
In a way, it can almost become as if we were trying to get rid of it all together so we just “don’t have to deal with it” every month. Admittedly, I know I’ve been there. I’ve done the regular use of tampons to avoid “messes” mixed with taking birth control pills in hopes to either shorten the period, make it lighter, or reduce symptoms. Heck, I even went so far previously as to try to master the pill taking in a way so that I could trick my body into “skipping” periods during months where I had decided that I “didn’t have time” to deal with it.
It’s almost as if our culture as a whole wants to avoid dealing with periods. It’s not something that we really talk about and discuss how we can “make it better” for ourselves and others. Heck, even upon a trip to the OBGYN we don’t discuss with the doctor how to “make improve our period experience” but rather it turns into “here’s a medication to take that will hopefully reduce it or, nearly, eliminate it all together”. We would rather hide it, complain about it, wish it away or try to practically eliminate it rather than to accept the process and nurture ourselves through that process.
Honestly, its really sad when you think about it. It’s one of the things that really makes a woman a woman and rather than to accept it and nourish it, we’ll reject it and try to wish it away. And, as a result, we may gradually find ourselves developing other problems down the road, such as: worsening PMS, worsening cramps, infertility, increasing amounts of irritability before or during menstruation, women’s health issues, and so on.
It’s important for us, as women, to be mindful of our body’s natural process and to nurture our bodies and ourselves during that process.
After all, it is the one time out of the month where an organ in our body is actually shedding it’s lining — that’s a big deal! So while self-care is important all the time, it is even more important during our week of menses. Here are 5 ways to take care of yourself during your menstruation:
#1 – Give yourself time to rest — especially on the first day.
Our body is going through a lot in that first day of our period, so it’s important to recognize and honor what our body is going through by allowing it to rest. If you start over the weekend, give yourself the time and space to rest during that first day.
If you do need to work or have activities to do on the first day, make the effort to let yourself rest in any moment that you have time. Rest even more during your lunch and other breaks, take extra moments during your day to meditate, and try to avoid doing any extra errands. Anything that doesn’t need to be done on that exact day, put it off to the next day when you’re body will have more energy to do it.
#2 – Do low-intensity exercise.
Go for walks and do low-intensity cardio, as this will help with the flow but not strain the body. Do stretching and more passive-kinds of exercise such as yin yoga or a yoga class that is more gentle in nature. This is most important to do during the first few days of your period, as your body is doing a lot more work in the beginning.
# 3 – Eat well.
Because we lose quite a bit of blood during our period, it’s important to eat foods rich in iron the week before we start our periods to prepare. So be sure to eat red meats, dark leafy greens (like spinach), and seaweed, as this will prepare your body for what you will be losing during menses.
Also, be sure to eat many fruits and vegetables during this time. During PMS and menses we may have the tendency to start reaching for chocolate, sweet, and sugary things. This is just a sign that our body is in need of nutrients it is deficient of. Many times, it is commonly iron (as I mentioned earlier) and magnesium. So be sure to eat many green vegetables, as these will be rich in magnesium, and it will better satisfy your cravings.
Finally, remember to take your multi vitamins since this will also reduce your likelihood of becoming nutrient deficient.
#4 – Take a soothing hot bath.
Take a hot or warm bath once or a few times during the week of your menses filled with bath salts and essential oils. Then go ahead and light some candles, play some soothing music, and just soak. It will not only help you relax, but it will also help sooth any cramps, aches and pains that you may be having.
#5 – Journal and reflect.
While we are menstruating, the communication between the left and right hemispheres of our brain are more powerful than any other time of the month. As a result, we may find ourselves receiving more messages from our intuition and instincts while we are menstruating.
So take more time to journal, meditate, and reflect. You may find yourself more likely to reach some “a ha” moments, receive new creative ideas, or find an answer to a question you have been contemplating on for weeks or months.
Even if you’re not feeling more intuitive during your week of menses, don’t just ditch the journaling! Continue to journal and reflect upon your current thoughts, feelings, and how you have been feeling in your body. In doing so, you may be able to come to some deeper insights about yourself.
In the comments below, share with me at least one thing that you are going to plan on doing during your next period.