It comes once a month. Every single month. For me, it comes with a warning (PMS), and then cramping and just an overall feeling of yuck. Being in my mid-twenties means I have been dealing with it for over a decade, so I have learned some tricks on how to take care of myself during that time of month since we are expected to still be fully functional despite all that is going on with our bodies (insert eye roll emoji).
I’m talking about my period of course. I wanted to pass along some of the things I have learned that have helped me in relieving those unwanted symptoms. When I say unwanted symptoms, I mean both in the physical sense as well as mental. Being that I do have premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) I deal with not only those major cramps and horrible pains that come from your period but I experience significant mood changes, ones that make me feel like a whole other person- a stranger, that start to occur well before my period. If you want to read more about my experience with PMDD you can read it here. But for those of you who deal with what is unfortunately deemed as the usual and want some ideas on how to better take care of yourself during that time or leading up to it, I wanted to share some of the practices that I have put in place to help cope during that time of the month! I’m not a doctor so these ideas are simply my own response to my “time of the month.” And I would love to hear anything that helps you as well!
Here’s What My Self-Care Routine Looks Like:
I started to take a supplement with calcium and vitamin d along with trying to get in some natural sunlight regularly and being especially mindful of it during those winter days where it may seem more of a challenge to get the proper amount of sunlight. According to Verywell Health morning sunlight plays an important role in regulating our sleep and moods as it can increase the release in serotonin!
Tracking my cycle – Keeping track of my cycle to know where I am at has been a big change in dealing with PMS and being well prepared and able to take better care of myself during those challenging days. Knowing when a sudden shift in my mood may be due to where I am in my cycle allows me much more patience to deal with those mood swings, knowing its hormones. Some days I find myself more anxious or sad and I then realize that whatever it is that I am more anxious or sad about may not typically make me feel this way but the hormonal shift may be exacerbating my anxiety.
Sleep– I don’t know about y’all but the days leading up to my period and during it I could sleep for like forever! I get extremely tired much earlier in the night, so knowing this I try to make sure that during the week I am more mindful of how I spend my time particularly at night to make sure I get to bed in time to get those full eight hours of sleep. I am especially mindful to not fall into that revenge sleep procrastination during this time of the month and try to cut back from my phone use time in order to get to bed on time. For more on revenge sleep procrastination check it out here!
Taking magnesium – My doctor had recommended that based on my diet- I could use more magnesium to which I started incorporating into my daily self-care routine. This has helped me personally as it not only aids in getting better sleep and helping with overall energy during the day. According to the Cleveland Clinic, magnesium can help relax your muscles so essentially it helps relax your uterus and helps lessen those terrible PMS cramps! Personally, I have found a noticeable difference in getting enough magnesium versus the time where I was not so these have stayed part of my daily self-care routine. Sidenote- another reason why pumpkin seeds are a personal fav to enjoy with chocolate as they are loaded with magnesium.
Journaling – To be totally transparent this has been more recent but addition to my self- care routine for that time of the month as i noticed more of a need to get out of my head and get those thoughts out onto paper. Writing out what I am anxious about usually leads to more self-realizations than when I am just in my head dealing with all those intrusive thoughts.
Respecting boundaries – Staying in to binge watch an entertaining series that will put me into a better mood (or at least a better mood than the one I am in prior to said binge sesh) rather than going out is just one example of how I make sure to practice self-care during my period by respecting my boundaries. Being the people pleaser that I am- I often feel uncomfortable saying no to an invite but over time I have learned the hard way that saying yes and ignoring what my body/ already very introverted self needs during this particular time of the month (lots of rest!) backfires and not just in that it makes me more tired and depleted but it makes me more resentful and irritable which does nothing for me and the relationship I have with those I am saying yes to. The week before my period seems to come with mood changes, especially an increase in anxiety/ depressive thoughts, while the first day of my period makes me feel like I could cry at the slightest inconvenience and the sudden intense cramps, bloat and fatigue and whatever other unpleasant physical symptoms that come from menstruating. Knowing this and the timing of these symptoms I am much more conscious of marking those days as low key days and days to chill and veg out at night to rest and recharge!
Movement – As we know movement helps release endorphins and while the low energy may make it challenging, acknowledging that I usually feel better after a workout than I did before it helps motivate me to workout. While I am all for movement, I still make sure to tailor those workouts to be semi shorter or slightly easier to make sure I am not using too much of my already limited energy.