We’ve all seen the adverts. We know that periods and PMS shouldn’t stop us from wearing white playsuits, or going swimming, or playing sport at a professional level, or chartering a rocket to the moon. But every person and every period is different, and for every month where someone feels unstoppable, there will be another person who wants to stop the world and get off for a bit.
During your period, you’re allowed to do anything, everything – and nothing. Here’s how to do nothing in a nourishing way, if that’s the mood you’re in.
Practise the art of self-love
During your period, it’s totally normal not to feel like your best self. However, it can be hard to avoid falling into a spiral of self doubt and negative thoughts. If you’re in a pit of PMS depression or feeling spotty, achy and bloated you don’t feel like a confident go-getter – you’re using all of your energy on going to the loo every twenty minutes. So a bit of mindfulness doesn’t go amiss.
You don’t need to overthink it; just try to catch your thoughts if you’re thinking negatively about yourself. Think “I love Me, I am doing everything in my power to take care of Me, and I am doing an awesome job.” Be your own best babysitter, and treat yourself as kindly and tenderly as you can. This means that you’ll feel super strong, confident and ready to do great things when your hormones calm down.
Eat your chocolate biscuits from a silver platter
With the caveat that periods are much easier to deal with if you fill yourself with vegetables and vitamins, sometimes the only thing that makes us feel better is to eat so much junk food that we start to wonder whether it’s worth camping out on a petrol station forecourt in order to be close to a shop that sells nothing but Doritos and Jelly Babies.
The trouble with junk food is that sometimes, as the name suggests, eating it can make you feel even more rubbish. But you can avoid this by making an occasion out of it. Put the crisps in the prettiest bowl you can find, instead of just shoving your head inside the bag. Arrange the cupcakes on a china plate. This makes your period wallow feel like a special occasion, and you are less likely to end up covered in crumbs. No matter where your cycle is at, being covered in Monster Munch dust just isn’t good for the soul.
Channel Winnie the Pooh
Winnie is a wise bear, and knows the value of ‘stoutness exercises’ – this means that if your tummy feels round and uncomfortable, some very gentle movement can make all the difference and help you to feel a little less like you’re being possessed by a sentient volleyball that’s about to burst out of you, uterus first.
But importantly, Winnie bear-ly (#sorrynotsorry) breaks a sweat, and sticks to his comfort zone. This isn’t about feeling the burn so much as getting slightly warm and then stopping to open a window. If you can face it, a tiny bit of exercise will relieve any cramps, and give you a bit of a break from your sofa-and-bed-based routine.
Have an Ultimate Bath
If you’re prepared to put the effort in, washing yourself can be an art, and one of the most rewarding activities there is. It’s only a matter of time before a TV commissioner capitalises on this and everyone sits down each week to watch The Great British Bathe Off.
For now, focus any energy that you have on upping your bathtime game. Find the nicest scent you can. If you’re so inclined, many essential oils are thought to have properties that ease your menses cramps, including lavender, clary sage, rose, peppermint and cinnamon (if it smells nice, it has probably, at some point in history been used to cheer someone up during their period) but the posh bubble bath you got for Christmas will definitely do the trick too.
Spend time getting the temperature right. Sometimes the body feels warmer during menstruation, so you might be more comfortable if your bath is on the cool side. When the bath has been run, make a peppermint tea, put a classical station on if you have a bathroom radio, and wallow away. When you get out, you’ll feel like Venus rising from a clam shell, if Venus was Beyonce.
Sleep where you fall
Fact: you’re not lazy – periods are tiring. As your oestrogen levels plummet, you might find that your iron levels drop too. Making sure that you get plenty of vitamins and eating iron-rich foods will help you get back to normal, but during the first couple of days, the best thing you can do for your body is to give it the sleep it craves. If you can’t keep your eyes open, it’s fine to have a nap. Unless you’re in the middle of crossing a road. Or using scissors.
If you know that you tend to get sleepy at the start of your period, try to give people a heads-up so you’ve got the time and space to get your head down. If your body wants extra rest, the smartest thing you can do is listen to it.
Image: Laura Callaghan