Practicing self care during your period is all about bridging the gap between physical and emotional care.
This isn’t very surprising given the amount of chemical (hormones) and physical (continuous blood loss) changes that happen during each cycle.
Given all this, is it really any wonder that we experience our periods differently?
For some women there’s physical discomfort, while for others there’s emotional discomfort.
And in many other cases there’s both physical and emotional discomfort.
So, in this post we’re going to look at some ways in which you can practice self care while on your period.
My goal is to share practical tips that will help you experience a greater sense of ease, clarity and serenity (both physically and emotionally).
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF DURING YOUR PERIOD: 10 TIPS FOR LESS CRAMPS AND MORE EASE
1. Add More Raw Foods To Your Diet
I don’t know about you, but figuring out what to eat during my period has taken me decades!
And eating more raw foods has turned out to be the best thing.
This approach really helps to:
- Stabilize energy levels.
- Reduce grogginess and fatigue.
- Eliminate cramps and bloating.
- Regulate the heaviness of your flow.
The main things to focus on are:
- Fruits: especially water-rich varieties like oranges, berries, peaches, pears, melons and watermelons.
- Veggies: bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, cabbage and cauliflower are easy to add to eat raw in salads. You can also dip bell peppers, celery and carrots in some delicious hummus!
- Raw nuts: almonds are my go-to, but walnuts, cashews and other types will do the trick too.
- Fermented foods: sauerkraut, a glass of kombucha or plain yogurt (sweetened with raw honey).
One reason why raw food is so beneficial is that it has many nutrients that are usually destroyed when we cook the food.
And since our menstrual cycle means head-to-toe chemical changes, the more wholesome food we eat, the more enjoyable our cycle becomes.
NOTE: some people struggle to digest raw cruciferous veggies (like cauliflower and broccoli). So, stick only to the ones that you know your body handles well. The goal isn’t to eat raw for your entire cycle. Personally, I just focus on my heavy flow days and do a mix of mostly raw and cooked.
2. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
The blood loss during your period is basically elimination of waste (your body doesn’t need that uterine lining so it’s basically waste).
So, treat this time of the month as a gentle detox.
And one of the most important rules of detox is to stay hydrated.
Plus, eliminating your uterine lining is a lot of metabolic work for your body.
All metabolic work requires energy and water.
So, drink up and consume at least ½ of your body weight in ounces of water.
That means if you weigh 160 lbs, you need at least 80 ounces of water (10 glasses).
3. Drink Two Smoothies A Day
Lately, I’ve been drinking a smoothie in the morning and another in late afternoon/evening while on my period.
Smoothies basically kill two birds with one stone because they’re full of raw fruits and veggies, and they count toward your water intake.
And all of those whole foods in smoothies are great for fighting inflammation (which is responsible for cramps, bloating and lots of period-related symptoms).
For smoothie recipes you can use for PMS and during your period, check out this post on making the best smoothie for period cramps.
4. Say NO To Non-Urgent Requests
Any type of clutter can be incredibly exhausting during that time of the month.
And that definitely goes for having a to-do list and schedule that is overbooked.
So, when it comes to low priority appointments or social engagements just say no.
Saying no is one of the hardest things to do, but once you do it a few times, it’s magic for your sanity and well-being 🙂
5. Get Sufficient Sleep
I think this is one of the non-negotiables for your period self care plan.
Sleep is when your body gets to reset, rejuvenate and take care of things that it can’t do when you’re awake.
So, work on cultivating a healthy sleep schedule that supports you during your period.
Some tips to keep in mind:
- Sleep in a cool room that is set to about 68F to 73F. You want to feel cooozzzzy.
- Set your phone and other devices aside at least 30 minutes before bedtime. This gives your eyes and your brain a break from all those stimulation.
- Put your phone on airplane mode while you sleep so you’re not awakened by buzzing or beeping during the night. And this way, if you happen to wake up in the middle of the night to check the time on your phone, you won’t be distracted by notifications.
- Aim to go to bed at approximately the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning.
6. Sip Some Golden Milk (with Ginger)
When it comes to taking care of yourself during your period, the ancient Ayurvedic drink, golden milk, has three benefits:
- Lowers inflammation, which means less cramping.
- Supports healthy sleep cycle.
- Creates a sense of calm and relaxation.
And if you happen to experience period pain and/or heavy periods, then adding some ginger to your golden milk will definitely help you.
To get my golden milk recipe, check out this post on using turmeric for hormone balance.
7. Tap Into The Power of Essential Oils for Your Period
Lavender, clary sage, copaiba, frankincense, ginger, rose, jasmine, marjoram, cinnamon, clove, cypress, geranium, neroli, orange, peppermint and ylang ylang.
Those are just a few of the essential oils that you can use to support your menstrual cycle!
And the best part is they’re all versatile enough to diffuse, use in a bath or in a body massage oil.
I’ve got lots of articles with recipes and guidelines on how to use essential oils for your period.
Just check out one of these posts to get started:
8. Move Your Body Mindfully
Exercise is a great stress-reliever and pain reliever because it triggers the release of chemicals known as endorphins.
These endorphins lower our perception of pain and they also act as a natural sedative, making you feel calm (source).
So, it’s a good idea to stay active during your period.
Just make sure not to overdo it.
Remember, your body is already working hard during this time. Rather than increase stress levels with strenuous exercise, focus on gentle activities like:
- Qi Going
- Tai Chi
All of these activities support healthy circulation in your body and they also have a meditative aspect to them that helps with the emotional fluctuations during our cycle.
And speaking of meditation…
9. Set Aside Time For Meditation
Ah meditation. Love it or hate it, it’s hard to question its effectiveness.
Starting and/or ending your day with a meditation session is not only beneficial for your emotional and mental health, but it’s also been shown to lower inflammation.
Although there are lots of different meditation practices to choose from, I suggest starting with the basics: a simple breath meditation or mindfulness meditation.
It’s simple, but not always easy!
However, if you give yourself permission to just relax into it, and you avoid judging how “good” of a meditator you are, you will reap the benefits!
Whether you start with 5, 10 15 minutes a day, you will ultimately experience a greater sense of relaxation, ease and expansiveness.
10. Switch To Non-Toxic Pads and Tampons
Toxins are unavoidable these days.
And that includes feminine care products like pads and tampons.
It’s important to be aware of the fact that most pads and tampons are made from commercial BT cotton.
BT cotton is a genetically modified cotton that releases its own pesticides.
There are many concerns with BT cotton, especially when it comes to tampons, because your tissues are directly exposed to small (but regular) doses of toxic cotton.
In addition, cotton is frequently bleached with chlorine.
And you guessed it…using these products month after month can expose your tissues to trace amounts of chlorine too.
It’ll give you peace of mind and your body will thank you for it.
THE MAIN THINGS TO AVOID WHILE MENSTRUATING
A glass of wine here and there has its benefits. But the thing with alcohol is that once it’s in your system, it diverts your liver’s attention away from other important things.
Important things like getting rid of toxins and balancing your hormones.
During your period, you want your liver (and other organs) to do what they’re good at so that you can feel physically and emotionally comfortable.
So, in the same way that multitasking and overwhelm wears us down, remember that your body also gets worn down from having to handle too many things at once.
And staying away from things like alcohol can help you experience more ease during your cycle.
2. Protein Powders
Protein powders are great for one thing: protein. However, the body needs much more than proteins to thrive (not survive, but thrive). And many protein powders just don’t provide an impressive nutritional punch.
Furthermore, depending on the formulation and the current state of your health, protein powders can contribute to digestive issues.
So, be very careful not to over consume them while menstruating. And for more on how these powders affect your cycle, read this in-depth article on protein powder and your menstrual cycle.
3. Junk Food
Although junk food and treats can be emotionally soothing, they don’t replenish your body from a nutritional perspective.
So, your body basically puts in a little of effort to digest them, but doesn’t get any actual benefit from them.
Therefore, it’s best to stay away from junk food while you’re menstruating (especially during your heavy flow days).
Coffee isn’t inherently bad. However, if you already have a history of struggling with PMS, then coffee won’t necessarily help.
This is mainly due to the fact that coffee has a stimulating effect and revs up the adrenals (i.e. you produce more cortisol).
Unfortunately, more cortisol is not your friend when your body is already exhausted from cramps, bloating, headaches, a heavy flow and so on.
So, take a break from coffee while in the days leading up to your period as well as during your period. You might be pleasantly surprised by the results.
5. Neglecting Your True Needs
Generally speaking, we all need a lot of pampering while menstruating. Whenever we ignore our true needs, it contributes to both physical and/or emotional struggle during our periods.
So, start paying more attention to everything you need to feel better. Whether it’s in terms of food, drinks, type of soap, the company you keep…even the type of clothing or fabric that makes you feel more comfortable.
Don’t ignore it. Everything matters because it’s all for your well-being and you can’t put a price on your health and happiness.
FAQs ABOUT SELF CARE WHILE ON YOUR PERIOD
Can I drink milk during my period?
Traditional cow milk tends to have a pro-inflammatory effect and as such it can worsen things like cramps and other PMS symptoms. A better milk option during your period is plant-based milk such as almond or oat milk.
Just double the label to ensure that it’s not full of added sugar or weird preservatives.
Which juice is good during your period?
Fresh pressed, vegetable-based juices are great during your menstrual cycle. For example, you can try a blend of carrots, celery and beets. Or you can juice a green apple with carrot, cucumber and some ginger.
As we’ve seen, taking care of yourself during your period (or during any other time) is all about finding a healthy balance between physical, emotional and spiritual care.
Oh and by the way, taking care of yourself is not a luxury. It’s your birthright.
So, go ahead and exercise that birthright.
Whether you intend to be a great wife, mother, entrepreneur, sister, CEO, community leader, friend, sister or what-have-you, you can’t do any of it joyfully if you’re not feeling your best.
So, give yourself the best (even on those days when your mind says otherwise) because you have the right to.
As always leave a comment below if you have any feedback or questions 🙂