I swear my physical self awareness (and let’s be honest, emotional as well) abilities in my teens and early twenties were just non existent. It wasn’t until a few years back that I finally started putting my physical puzzles pieces together, and realized what was and wasn’t servicing me.
When I would get my period I would abuse my body with an excess of pain killers and just pretend it wasn’t happening to me. I wouldn’t work with my body or listen to what it needed. I think this was not only due to my lack of awareness but also a societal thing I grew up around: That periods are to be kept secret, that they are disgusting, and shameful.
I’m so happy I grew out of that way of thinking about my body. Eventually I took the steps to work with my body during this time when it requires, and deserves my attention. I’ve gathered a few tricks over the years that have made my period a much more manageable time in my life and hope maybe some of them can be of service to you too!
#1. Create a Calendar.
I’ve gotten into the habit of marking my periods on my calendar from start to end date. I’ve done this for the last few years and it’s been a big help, especially when it comes to making vacation or event plans.
I think it’s important to share this calendar with your partner. I’ve been sharing it with my husband for as long as I’ve been steadily keeping it. If it’s apart of my life, then it’s apart of his. This helps him to be a more helpful partner to me both physically and emotionally. This also helps manage his own sexual expectations during that time. As I’ve gotten older my periods have become much less irregular but they still don’t always adhere to a strict 28 day cycle. That’s where my next tip comes in.
#2. Figure Out Your Tell Signs.
Tell signs, I have a million. They’re both physical and emotional indicators that your period is coming. This biggest one I’ve uncovered is that exactly one week before my period and for just about 24 hours I have an intense, nothing is going right, extremely emotional, rollercoaster of a day. I call this the PMDD day. For years I thought it was a much larger, depression related issue until I put the puzzle pieces together and realized it happened like clock work before my period. I now set a marker in my calendar for the day(s) I think it might fall on for the upcoming month, this way both my husband and I can be prepared for it. (Less drama, more awareness!)
Besides emotional markers I have a slew of physical ones: From breast inflammation, back pain, dietary cravings, digestion issues to even stool changes. I’ve learned to recognize the effects my body is undertaking to prepare for my monthly menstruation.
#3. Get Prepared.
I try my damnedest to alway be stocked with my preferred type of tampons, make sure I’ve properly sanitized my menstrual cup and am stocked on my favorite herbs and teas I want to use. If I have my wits about me I’ll even start taking my preferred herbs a few days before my period arrives, this helps a ton!
I also make it a priority to have my favorite underwear and sweatpants freshly laundered, as well as a batch of cookie dough waiting for me when I need it. I’ve made this amazing chocolate chip cookie recipe from Smitten Kitchen at least a dozen times now to get me though those rough couple of days. This is also a silver lining for my husband. He fucking loves these cookies.
#4. Make a Plan.
Now maybe this could have been wrapped up in tip #3 but I think it’s important enough to stand on it’s own! I think it is a good idea to make a game plan on your period days. On heavy days, like the first two, I like to have a map for getting through the day. This includes the right amount of tampons, feminine wipes and pain medication I’ve packed in my purse, to even the type of activities I’ll be doing.
If I am using a Menstrual Cup I do not like being away from the house for too long. It’s just a personal preference but I hate changing it in public restrooms. If I have to do so, I make sure it’s a single occupant bathroom with a sink. And a nice one. No fucking dirty gas station bathrooms for me thank you very much. But if a good bathroom is a gamble, it’s great to keep a water bottle and baby wipes with you.
I also like to set an alarm to wake up in the middle of the night to make a tampon change, or make sure there is no cup spillage. I am planning on testing out the new period panties that I’ve been seeing ads for, so hopefully I can eliminate this step in the future! I’d like to sleep sheets-worry free. But for now, when I remember to set my alarm, it’s worked like a charm.
#5. Find Constructive Ways of Dealing With Pain.
For years I abused my body by downing an abundance of pills to numb the pain. Eventually my stomach lining took a toll, and indigestion became an issue. I’ve successfully experimented with a number of herbs over the last year that have helped more than just regular pain killers ever did, and with fewer side effects.
Herbs have helped not only with the pain of cramps and back aches, but also helped ease inflammation, stabilize moods and even shorten the length and intensity of my period. A few staples for me are: Black Cohosh, Wild Yam, Red Raspberry and Evening Primrose pills. Tinctures of Lemon Balm and St Johns Wart have helped my mood, as well as Yarrow for reducing the blood flow. I also love brewing Red Raspberry tea and carting it around with me all day.
Heating pads, and long showers are also big in my house. The warmth is soothing to the pain and also my mood. Exercise, at least light exercise, along with stretching is a big helper as well. Oh and NAPS! God bless a good nap!
#6. Don’t let it Stand in Your Way!
Now part of me just wants to lock myself a way for those first few days and honestly, sometimes, that’s just what I need to do. But I have to say, getting out there is a great way to keep your mind off of the pain and discomfort. I sometimes need the physical and mental distraction from my period.
I try to keep plans, maintain my work schedule, continue working out and just generally enjoying my day. Sadly the world doesn’t stop for my period, and is not very accommodating to it either, so I try my best to work with my period to go about my day instead of giving up or becoming resentful. At the same time it is important to give yourself a break….
#7. Set Aside Personal Time.
This is big for me, and I don’t always take it. In contrast with my last tip, it’s important to set aside some personal time during your period. Your body is under going a lot right now, and it’s not easy. Use this time to be reflective, get more in tune with your body, rest and even pamper yourself. Enjoy a proper veg out. Watch some shows! Binge on crazy beauty tutorials. Multi mask to your hearts content (I’m sure your pimpled skin could use it about now…) and eat your body weight in cookie dough. In other words, just indulge in some selfishness. It’s nice.
#8. Respect Your Period as Something to Invest in.
I know it’s not always economically sound for some folks, but getting your body what it deserves is important. It’s not cheap to buy good herbs, Menstrual cups or organic tampons. I used to buy the cheapest tampons on the shelf, but as soon as I could afford, and made the decision to, I made a point to get the natural organic ones I like.
Also it takes some effort and time to figure out your Tell Signs, get in tune with what you need and plan around it. But to me it’s important to invest in something that is apart of my life and give it respect. My body deserves it.
#9 Have Compassion for Yourself.
Now shame is something I am still working on, and it comes and goes for me. I still have accidents, and will have dozens more in my life time. I have to remember to forgive myself for these messy times and release the sense of shame that has been ingrained in me about my period.
Society has really done a number on us women and our bodies, and period shame is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a weird sense I’ve always had to cover it up, and act like I never have one, as if having a period makes me weak. This is still my toughest tip to take myself. I know shame, guilt or any other negative emotion is something I should disassociate with in regards to my period. This is my body functioning as it should, and bodies are messy. As they are supposed to be.
Ladies! Any tips you have or routines you keep when dealing with your period? I’d love to know what are some things you always do to get you through?