Not so many moons ago, I used to dread "that time of the month". I was having a really hard time with my PMDD symptoms and it felt very hopeless and I wasn't sure what to do or where to start to get myself back to good again. My period felt like the enemy. After a ton of reading and a little trial and error, I was able to find a regimen of supplements that have made a world of difference.
I wrote about it last year, but the tldr (too long, didn't read) version is... Krill oil is pure magic (as long as you're not allergic) and your body requires a lot of ALAs, DHAs and GLAs to support the brain to function properly. I talk more about the sciencey stuff and how and why it works in this post about natural help for PMDD symptoms. If you suffer from PMDD or any of the PMSy type disorders, I highly advise giving it a read.
Since I've been taking the supplements and I have reached a new "headspace", my entire attitude about my period has changed. Instead of dreading it, I have come to accept it and actually look forward to getting a break for a couple of days. I have come to view my period as my body's way of telling me everything is still running smoothly and I use this time to pamper myself in ways I normally wouldn't.
I try really hard to listen to the subtle cues my body gives me and give it what it needs to feel better and function better. This includes lots of self-care the week before and the week of my period. Does this mean I just stop living and eat candy all day... no, but don't we all wish?! Life still goes on, even during your period. (that sounds like an amazing ad campaign)
The dishes still get dirty, the kids still need rides places and they will probably want to eat a couple or three times a day, so giving up is not an option. Since cloning yourself is still years away and sister wives are illegal, you're just gonna have to find other ways to still "git 'er done" while your insides are slowly becoming your outsides.
1. Get your mind right!
Make peace with your period. It is what it is and it is just a phase of your life you have to experience, make the best of it. Educate yourself. When you have respect for someone or something, you will treat them with more kindness. The female human body is an amazing machine. It sounds very cliche', but we are strong, magical beings capable of amazing things. Embrace your power and use it for good.
2. Stock up on supplies before you need them!
Simple enough. Even if your periods are irregular, keep supplies on hand, because no one wants to have to make a Target run on the most blessed day of the month. Don't forget the aspirin... and chocolate. No, seriously, there's something in chocolate that helps with cramps... or something like that. Who cares, get the chocolate. The good stuff. The darker, the better.
3. Schedule any important appointments for the week after your period.
Be it oil change or parent teacher conference, schedule it for the week after (or weeks before). Get an app or go old school with a calendar, but keep track of when to expect your monthly visitor and you will be much more prepared for whatever life throws at you... or not, but at least you won't be sitting at the quickie lube while you'd rather be at home under a fluffy blanket with your favorite pajama pants on.
4. Take your vitamins!
Mom was right, you should totally take your vitamins. Your body goes through a lot of changes in the days building up to your period, give it the proper vitamins and minerals it will need to function effectively in the coming days. If you're feeling sluggish, consider an Iron supplement, but be careful of the type of Iron. Some are not very well absorbed by your body and can actually do more harm than good.
5. Eat well!
It goes without saying you should always try to fuel your body with the best, most nutrient-rich foods all the time, but this is even more important during your period. Do your best to avoid simple carbs and refined sugars. Instead, try to eat more protein, healthy fats and dark leafy greens and don't forget to up your water intake.
Treat yourself to some healthier takes on old fashioned comfort foods. Something easy to fix and warm in the belly always sits well with me. Soups, stews, a whole pan of mac and cheese.... whatever, I'm not judging.
6. Get plenty of rest!
With the loss of blood comes loss of Iron and other nutrients that can cause a feeling of fatigue, tiredness and general crappiness. (That's the technical term) To help with these symptoms, try to get plenty of rest.
With small children at home this can often seem like a fantasy, but there are ways to sneak in a little rest here and there, like, for example, a short cat nap in the bath might be just what you need. (kidding... kind of) A warm Epsom salt bath can be both relaxing and therapeutic.
Magnesium is a known muscle relaxant and the warm water will soothe your achy body and the closed door means your partner will have to handle any "issues" that might arise.
If you truly can't squeeze in a full-fledged nap or a hot bath, take a little break, even fifteen minutes off your feet will often give you the little boost you need to continue through your day.
7. Be comfortable!
Wearing loose fitting, comfy clothes is a great tip, but why stop with just comfy clothes. Be comfortable in every aspect of your day. Fluff your favorite blanket in the dryer and use it to snuggle with while you're taking a break, catching up on your favorite TV show or book or blog. (wink wink)
Make sure your favorite pillowcase is on your pillow and spritz it with a little bit of lavender water. Light your favorite incense or candle; diffuse your favorite oils, whatever you need to make your space comfortable. Go outside, breathe in the air, listen to the birds singing, feel the sun on your face (assuming it's not raining or Winter or Midnight).
8. Keep your brain busy!
Using your brain will help keep you from focusing on any cramps or other symptoms you might be feeling and when your physical energy starts waning, you can just take a brain-break and recharge.
Read a book, listen to some music, plant a seed in the dirt, learn about a topic you've always wondered about. Take a virtual vacation. Pop in some earbuds and listen to a guided meditation. Write a letter to an old friend, send a birthday card to your bestie who lives out of state. Pin some new sewing ideas to your Pinterest boards. Do some meal planning for next week. Play a game of solitaire.
9. Don't be so hard on yourself!
We can't all be beautiful graceful yoga models running through fields of sunflowers during our periods. Some of us get break outs, or cold sores or the ever-so-pleasant diarrhea and gas and some of us might even stop adulting the entire week of our periods. Whatever you need to do to survive the week, do it. This is why we planned ahead in tips 1-3 above, so we could auto pilot through "hell week" and also why God created dry shampoo. (told y'all she was a girl)
10. Don't be afraid to ask for help!
Ok, let's face it, even with the best essential oils, the softest blankies, the cheesiest mac and cheese ever and all the krill oil and aspirin in the world, sometimes, our periods are just quite literally unbearable.
The thought of getting up one more time to fix a kid some lunch sounds akin to walking cross country ala Forrest Gump. I get it, I really do. That's when it's time to call in reinforcements. Dad, older siblings, Grandma, friends from a Mom's group. I don't care who you have to enlist, never ever be afraid to ask for help... ever.
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