How to Practice Self-Care During Your Period
Did you know that May is Menstrual Hygiene Month? Culminating on May 28th (to symbolize a 28-day cycle), Menstrual Hygiene Month is all about raising awareness on stigma, lack of education, taboos, lack of access to products, and socio-economics surrounding menstrual hygiene.
Millions of women and girls around the world are being kept back from their full potential due to negative social norms surrounding menstruation, and this month’s goal is to raise awareness on global, national, and local levels. Some of the initiatives include campaigning to end period taxes and poverty, advocating for education, and reducing stigma. For more information on Menstrual Hygiene Month, visit https://menstrualhygieneday.org/.
People who menstruate are well versed in the trials and tribulations of “aunt flo”, but how well do you practice self-care during this time? Between the cravings, cramps, headaches, soreness, and disrupted sleep, checking in with ourselves helps us to holistically feel our best and know what our bodies need.
Here are 7 ideas for self-care during your period!
#1 – Prioritize Healthy Eating
Menstruation often comes with a barrage of food-related issues such as cravings, bloating, and more. Additionally, those with heavy periods may also experience anemia, an iron-deficiency that can cause tiredness and mood swings.
For these reasons, prioritizing healthy eating should be at the top of your list during your period. Fill up on fibre to promote digestion, make sure you’re getting enough calcium, magnesium, iron, and omega-3s, and eat lots of protein.
Eating too much sugar and salt may feel good in the moment, but foods high in these can often lead to bloating and pain.
#2 – Stay Active, But Don’t Overdo It
Raise your hand if you think exercising while on your period is the worst. Yep — me too! During that time of the month, there is nothing I want to do less than drag my butt out for a run or to the gym. And that’s where self-care comes in.
Though exercise has been shown to help reduce the side-effects of your period including cramps and sore muscles, if going hard with exercise doesn’t feel good to you, then don’t do it. Instead, choose slow-moving, restorative movements such as yoga, spin, or pilates.
Even a simple stretching routine can help reduce period pain.
These 7 home-based workouts are great to get your heart pumping and shake up your workout routine.
#3 – Use Heat
If cramps have you down for the count, then using heat is one of your best bets. More than an old wives medicine hack, heat therapy reduces pain by relaxing the uterine muscles, which in turn helps to increase blood flow and lower stress.
A heating pad or hot water bottle are great options for this.
#4 – Consider Switching to Reusable Products
I truly believe that self-care is holistic, and if you’re in a position where you have access to reusable products and can reduce period waste, then it’s definitely worth a try. From reusable period underwear to cups, pads, and applicator-free tampons, the options are endless these days.
When choosing reusable period products, definitely opt for those that use antimicrobial technology, don’t use harmful chemicals, have great reviews, and stay away from plastic.
That said, reusable products aren’t for everyone, and if you have adverse side effects or are unable to properly use them, then there is no shame in that either!
#5 – Try Some Alternative Pain Relievers
Though ibuprofen is a pain relief go-to for many, if you’re looking for something a little more alternative then you have a few options. Herbal teas such as fennel, pycnogenol, cramp bark, peppermint, and raspberry leaf are all known for their pain-relieving effects, while supplements such as magnesium, fish oil and vitamin B1 may do the trick.
Additionally, acupuncture is a popular remedy for not only pain relief, but also for restoring natural flow. According to Womens Health Melbourne, acupuncture helps the cycle in three ways:
1- By regulating the communication between the brain and the ovaries, aka the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Ovarian axis.
2- By improving blood flow to the ovaries and uterus.
3- By promoting ovulation and supporting the maturation of healthy eggs.
Tapping (EFT) is another great way to reduce pain, stress, and anxiety. Check out this article all about this holistic healing technique!
#6 – Advocate
Having your period is a great reminder that, even though you may have access to period products and education, not everyone in the world has been afforded those privileges. During your next cycle, give yourself a reminder to donate period products to women’s shelters or charities, volunteer for advocate groups, or simply just talk about it.
The stigma surrounding periods knows no borders, and simply the act of talking about menstruation with a friend or family member (even just in passing) can help normalize it for everyone.
#7 – Meditate
Anyone who meditates regularly can attest that it can be amazing for help reducing pain, and that is just as true when it comes to your period. Menstruation is a time where you may experience increased awareness or sensitivity, and so I recommend doing guided meditation with the focus on your sacral chakra.
The seven chakras are essentially energy systems in the body, and the sacral chakra puts emphasis on the energy of the solar plexus. Simply shifting your energy to this area could provide relaxation and pain relief.
This solar plexus chakra healing meditation is a great guided option if you’re new to the practice.
That’s it for my seven ways to practice self-care during your period! I truly believe that talking about periods and understanding the far-reaching effects of period poverty can change the world for the better, and I hope that this article has inspired you this Menstrual Hygiene Month. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!