Periods. Seriously, sometimes it’s like Voldemort – the word never to be uttered. Yet, according to UNICEF, 800 million people in the world have their period on any given day. Despite this astounding number, we still play into the shame game and don’t acknowledge that our emotional, physical and mental needs might change as our bodies go through our natural cycle. In fact, our menstrual cycle is one phenomenally intricate dance that is actually pretty damn impressive.
We need to stop treating our periods as if it’s some natural disaster. Forget the shame game. And instead of dreading it, re-frame our period as a time to look after ourselves.
Nothing to hide
Many of us have messages hardwired into us that our periods are something to hide. Don’t let on that you’re bleeding. Down. There. Gasp! Hide away those pads and tampons (which, trust me, was really hard back in my boarding school days, when pads were the size of surfboards. And sure, you’d think that because we were a bunch of femmes, we’d ditch the “discretion” and subconscious shame, but nup.). Don’t leave any tells that you’re menstruating lest you make a remark, no matter how valid, and have it put down to “that time of the month”. Remain productive. Pretty much be like a non-menstruating dude.
The fact remains: we do bleed once a month. But our menstrual cycles are so much more than nuisances. It’s essentially how we make oestrogen and progesterone, which are not purely fertility-related hormones, they’re pivotal for our overall health. So when our progesterone and oestrogen levels start dipping during our period, take it as a hint to slow down and get those resources refilled.
Self-care tips for during your period
Slow down Everyone has different experiences when it comes to their period, but a good rule of thumb is to slow down because the chances are, you’re pretty damn exhausted.
Don’t overcommit. This ties into the above, but it is also something that we’re all prone to, so warrants its own spot.
Surround yourself with your tribe. Keep morale high by keeping your nearest and dearest around you.
Get better acquainted with your friend, the hot water bottle. If any cramps start creeping up, the heat can help relax the muscles.
Get your guac or smashed avocado fix. Avocados contain a good wad of potassium which can help with cramps.
Go for a walk. Outside. You may feel like nuzzling into a little ball on your sofa in your fuzzy wuzzy dressing gown, but getting out in the big wide world, preferably somewhere with trees and goodness, is a win for your mood, stress and energy levels.
Hit up the magnesium. It’s great for muscle aches, mood and sleep. Foods that are high in magnesium include: green, leafy veggies, dark chocolate (woo hoo!), avocados, almonds, lentils, bananas and oatmeal.
Pamper yourself. While you’re slowing it all down, take a moment to focus on you and what makes you feel good. Perhaps it’s a face mask? Or a massage? Or all of the above.
Drink water. Keep that body hydrated and happy. It’s doing some important stuff, help it do its job.
Eliminate potential stressors and be prepared. Make sure you’ve got the required supplies for your period. It sounds so simple, but we’ve all had to do the last-minute dash to the shops or ask a peer (yup, not a friend, a “peer”) if they have any spare tampons. (And that’s exactly why Juuni was born. To make sure that you’re stocked up with period goods, when you need them, how you need them.)
Some of you might not feel the ebb and flow of your hormones and body as much as others, but wherever you lay on the spectrum there, your period is an ideal time to reset and recalibrate.