Some girls breeze through their period every month hassle-free. They have virtually no symptoms of PMS, bleed only lightly and bound around like it’s Christmas.
For the rest of us, periods can feel like the world is ending; you feel totally lousy, you snap at your boyfriend for no good reason, and you cry at the drop of a hat.
Although you might dread the arrival of your monthly visitor, try to find solace in knowing that getting your period means that everything is working fine – your body is healthy and your hormones are doing their thing – just as nature intended.
But back to periods sucking.
They’re bound to suck at some point. Sorry about that.
So here’s a little survival kit – a guide for making your period a whole lot less miserable.
It’s full of tips and tricks and little ways to pamper yourself when you’re not feeling your brilliant best.
Feel free to add your own tips in the comments – let’s make it a super-useful menstrual manual!
P.S. Be kind to yourself. xx
Swap coffee and caffeinated teas for herbal
It sounds extreme, but many women find caffeine flares up cramping and aggravates an already bad mood. There are so many awesome caffeine-free teas available these days – try a few different kinds until you find your favourite.
Tea2’s Pure Peppermint is the cleanest, punchiest-tasting mint around. Peppermint tea is great for digestion and soothing an upset stomach.
Licorice Allsort from The Rabbit Hole is full of spicy, fragrant goodness.
Pukka Three Ginger tea is warming and and a little zingy – like a great big hug for your belly.
Hello, hot water bottle
No, nobody’s going to laugh at you for whipping out the wheat pack or hot water bottle mid-summer. Sometimes a little heat on your lower abdomen works wonders for those OMG IT FEELS LIKE SOMEONE IS LITERALLY PUNCHING ME IN MY OVARIES cramps.
Don’t ever put the rubber water bottle directly onto your skin; invest in a nice hot water bottle cover – or better still, knit or crochet one up yourself!
Here are some of the cuter ones around…
Grumpy and Irrational hot water bottle cover by The Gifted Penguin
Penguins hot water bottle by Cath Kidston
Cable Knit hot water bottle cover by LoftLines on Etsy
Black Cat hot water bottle cover from SpideyDesigns on Etsy
Don’t be caught off guard
Keep tabs on when your period is due with a period tracking app.
Many tracking apps work off a standard 28-day cycle, but Period Tracker is a neat one which uses the data from your last three cycles to calculate when your next period is due, as well as when you’re ovulating and most fertile. It’s much more accurate.
Give your skin some TLC
Many women find that in the week before their period, just like clockwork, their skin breaks out. Hormones, eh? FFS.
Pay extra-special attention to your skin just before and during your period. Don’t ever go to bed wearing makeup, use a gentle wash and moisturiser twice a day, and keep some tea tree oil handy to tackle any spots that pop up.
Try starting your day with fresh lemon juice in warm water – it’s great for your digestive system, is detoxifying and is also loaded with vitamin C, which is important for healthy skin. Remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Even if you really don’t feel like it, get out and move your body. Exercise promotes circulation and releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins, which boost your mood and calm your mind. A gentle walk around the block is better than nothing!
At the very least, do some gentle stretches on the floor at home.
Let your tears out
Thanks to those pesky chemicals called hormones, when you’ve got your period, it can feel as though someone found your Emotions Dial and turned it up full ball.
It’s not uncommon to experience mood swings: happy, sad, happy, RAGING ANGER, numbness, CRYING, OMG SO MUCH CRYING AT ALL THE THINGS, WHY AM I CRYING AT THE BABY ANIMALS ON THE NEWS?!
Frankly, if emotions could all just bugger off at that time of the month, that’d be great. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work the way we want it to.
So be gentle with yourself. If you need to cry, cry! Let your tears out – it’s good for you.
P.S. Here’s a small collection of the best tear-inducing films to watch when you’ve got your period.
- The Notebook
- P.S. I Love You
- Seven Pounds
- Marley & Me
- The Awakening
- Forrest Gump
- Never Let Me Go
- 50 First Dates
Magnesium is your friend
Every single cell in the human body needs adequate magnesium to function. Magnesium deficiency can contribute to a whole host of issues, including:
- hormone disruption
- muscle soreness or spasms
- PMS <— take note
- fuzzy brain or difficulty concentrating
- carbohydrate cravings
…and the list goes on.
Be conscious of supplementing with magnesium, particularly when you’ve got your period and are feeling especially foggy and sore.
Magnesium is found in foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts (almonds are the highest in magnesium), raw cacao, and avocado, and in smaller amounts in beans and baked potatoes.
But the best way to absorb magnesium is transdermally, or through the skin. A great source of magnesium is epsom salts, which you can get at health food stores and supermarkets. Simply add 1-2 cups to a hot bath and soak for at least 15 minutes.
You should notice the calming effect on your mind and muscles right away, and because magnesium improves sleep, epsom salt baths are great just before bed.
Eat all the things
You were probably expecting permission to eat as much chocolate as you please, right?
Well, you can eat chocolate, but try not to overdo it.
You might find that you’re craving sweet or salty things when you’ve got your period (chocolate? Ice-cream? Mini Chicken Crimpy Shapes?), and it’s completely okay to indulge in foods that make you feel better temporarily. But a better idea is to work out why you are craving the foods you are, and replace them with foods that are more nourishing. It’ll make you feel better in the long run.
Are you craving salty food?
Your body consists of over 60% water, and salt is one of the electrolytes that helps your body maintain the right balance of fluids.
Losing a little blood during your period means you can easily become dehydrated, so make sure you (a) drink enough water, and (b) eat enough of the right amount of salt. Table salt = bad. Sea salt, or Himalayan crystal salt = mineral dense.
Replace chips with roast pumpkin: toss some wedges of pumpkin in coconut oil and sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary, or cinnamon. Bake for 25 minutes at 190 degrees. Yum!
Make sweet potato fries: slice an orange, white or purple sweet potato into chips and toss in olive oil or ghee, sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary or thyme. Bake for 25 minutes at 190 degrees, turning once.
Are you craving sweet food?
Keep cravings at bay by eating regular meals packed with protein and good fats. Try to make your sweet treats a little healthier by avoiding refined sugar and sticking to natural sweeteners like fruit and honey.
Brownies! Try these “Can’t Beet ‘em” Paleo Strawberry Brownies by What Runs Lori – they’re gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free and full of nutritious ingredients.
Fresh young coconut: fresh young coconut water is full of vitamins and minerals and electrolytes, and it’s delicious and sweet. Scoop out the flesh when you’ve drunk the juice and mix with chia seeds, goji berries and natural yoghurt for a nutritious snack.
Melt some super dark (70%+ cacao) chocolate and use as a dip for strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.
The Chocolate Lover’s Guide to Chocolate
No explanation is necessary here. Onto the important stuff…
All of Loving Earth’s chocolate is free from cane sugar and dairy (yay for vegans!) and is uncooked and unprocessed, which means you’re eating chocolate in its purest, most nutritious form. But mainly, it’s delicious – a Birdee favourite.
These special little bars are raw, organic and handmade in Australia. The Sour Cherry + Vanilla flavour is fudgy and wonderful. They’re pricey, though, so make them a rare treat.
Lindt makes a subtle and smooth 85% cacao dark chocolate that melts in your mouth.
If 85% is too high, they also make 60% and 70% dark chocolate, and some special varieties which include cherries, blueberries and sea salt. Yum!
You can generally find chocolate coated nuts at most health food stores and specialty grocers. Hey – at least the nuts contain healthy fats (if un-roasted) and other important nutrients. Try dark chocolate-coated almonds or macadamias.
Hello, recipe for homemade raw ‘Nutella’: this lovely, rich chocolate hazelnut spread is dairy, gluten and refined sugar-free and is full of nourishing stuff like coconut oil and raw cacao.
It’s seriously good.
What tips and tricks do you use to make your period less miserable?