When you get your period you don’t want it to slow you down… or do you? Just like everyone’s menstrual cycle is unique, so too everyone experiences their period differently. For some people, their period comes and goes with bleeding and few other symptoms that are mostly just an inconvenience. But for others, that time of the month might mean severe cramping, pain, fatigue, dizziness, diarrhea, and other symptoms that may call for them to really prioritize self-care and maybe even plan around it when their menstrual period comes around. A lot of people’s experience exists somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.
Self care methods to remember during your menstrual period
Depending on what’s normal for you, you should definitely plan to treat yourself with a lot of kindness during your period. Respect your own feelings, your degree of comfort or discomfort, and the pace you’re comfortable with. This may mean that you carry on with life as usual, or it may mean you make a point to slow things down. This goes for everything from your physical activity to your social calendar to your sleep schedule.
When it comes to physical activity, pay attention to your comfort and energy levels. Some people carry on with their usual exercise routines – and, indeed, physical activity of this sort can actually help with cramping – while others prefer to take it a bit easier.
When it comes to your social life, do you feel like you want to carry on with your usual social schedule? Or do you want to use the opportunity to snuggle up at home with a heating pad and a good book? You know yourself best, so respect your body, your energy levels, and how you’re feeling.
The same goes for sex. Many people are down for being intimate in many of the same ways they would at other times of the month, maybe just with an extra towel on the bed or an extra shower added to the day. And other people, whether because of physical discomfort or preference, just prefer to take a break. There’s no right or wrong – you do you.
If you regularly experience period symptoms that get in the way of your usual daily life – like painful cramping, dizziness, or fatigue – you may want to try to plan to be extra proactive about self-care during that time. This can look different for everyone. It might mean you preemptively take an over-the-counter pain reliever at the start of your period (though do check with your healthcare provider to find out what’s safe for you). It might mean you keep a heating pad close or pencil in a relaxing warm bath for some heat therapy. And if fatigue tends to hit you hard, it might mean you don’t plan any late nights so you can really prioritize rest.
You can also try to be mindful of what you are and aren’t adding to your body during this time. It can help to stay hydrated and eat a nutritious diet, like veggies, whole grains, fruit, lean protein, good fats, and dairy. It can also help to avoid things like caffeine, alcohol, and smoking (the last of which you should always avoid), which can make cramps worse. And you may also want to avoid particularly salty food, which can dehydrate you. As with most things, you should see what seems to feel best for you.
There’s nothing wrong with respecting your body’s needs and listening to the rhythms of your cycle. It’s really amazing what our bodies are capable of and what they’ll communicate to us if we listen. Giving yourself a little extra love during this period is just one way to show yourself the kindness you definitely deserve.
But there is a difference being kind to yourself with period-focused self-care that can help make that time of the month more manageable for you and dealing with the sort of discomfort that you should really see your healthcare provider about. If you do have the sort of discomfort and symptoms that really impact your life in a negative way – meaning cramps that last longer than a few days, cramps that feel severe or unusual in any way, or any other symptoms that make life particularly tough for you, talk to your healthcare provider so they can help you find some relief.
You deserve to feel your best – throughout your cycle, and each and every day.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Menstrual cramps.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, April 14 2018. Retrieved February 25 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menstrual-cramps/symptoms-causes/syc-20374938.
- “Dysmenorrhea.” Cleveland Clinic. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved February 25 2019. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4148-dysmenorrhea.
- “Dysmenorrhea: Painful Periods.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. January 2015. Retrieved February 25 2019. https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Dysmenorrhea-Painful-Periods.
- “What can I do about cramps and PMS?” Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Retrieved February 25 2019. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/health-and-wellness/menstruation/what-can-i-do-about-cramps-and-pms.