This once a month visitor is dreaded in many households around the world – mood swings, cramping, bloating, skin breakouts, food cravings, muscle pain and body aches are often attributed to PMS and the period. When stress levels are high the symptoms can become worse too.
Relaxation and menstruation may not seem a likely pair, but with some advance planning stressful periods could become a thing of the past. So grab a cup of tea, a notepad and pen and jot down some of these additional resources.
Plan to Take Care of Yourself Before Your Period Arrives
Some women experience pre-menstrual syndrome in the week or so leading up to their period. Take action in advance to help stay more even keeled before your period arrives:
- Time out – carve out 10-15 minute breaks for a stress-reducing activity like stretching, meditation, drinking a cup of tea, knitting or drawing.
- Curb the cravings – don’t set yourself up for an unpleasant sugar or caffeine crash by turning to junk food. Pack fresh fruit and vegetables, nut butters, cheese or other healthy snacks to keep the cravings at bay.
- Drink water – get creative and add a splash of lemon, lime, cranberry, pomegranate, or other fruit juice concentrate to your water bottle, especially if you’re prone to bloating as your period gets close.
- Move daily – avoid lethargy and get moving in the days leading up to your period.
Guilt-Free TLC for the Period
Women don’t get a week off every month because their body is uncomfortable and their emotions are closer to the surface. However, treating the body with a little more tender loving care during menstruation can really pay off.
- Aromatherapy in the shower – to boost spirits place three to four drops of Bergamot essential oil on a washcloth and throw it on the shower floor. The steam from the warm water will lift the oil up to the nose and help balance that mood in the time it takes you to shampoo your hair.
- Ask for a backrub or footrub – partners and children can be recruited for a little R&R session on the couch. Better yet, book a reflexology appointment for the week of your period for some real balancing and relaxation.
- Heat therapy – microwavable heating pads, electric heating pads and hot water bottles can be a girl’s best friend while on her period. Pharmacies also carry adhesive heating pads for one time use which can be adhered to the front and/or back of underwear to provide discrete comfort while at work or out running errands.
- Relaxing rituals – make a monthly date with a foot soak, teapot, puzzle or other relaxing pastime. This routine will be a comfort to come home to and a nice retreat from the usual period downtime of junk food and tear jerker chick flicks.
Adjust Your Schedule to Accommodate Your Period
You know your body, and if every cycle you have painful cramps on the second day, or get a migraine on the last day, adjust your routines. Parents can swap duties for the day, or call in the grandparents to cover childcare or drive the kids to swim practice. Don’t try to be supermom or superwoman when your body is telling you to sit this one out — it will only add to stress levels.
- Listen to your body and work from home in your bathrobe one day if you need it.
- Reschedule your personal trainer session and attend a gentle yoga class instead.
- Take a rain check for a night on the town and opt to meet at the café for tea and girl talk.
Having a period doesn’t mean life comes to a screeching halt, but making allowances for lower energy levels is a smart way to keep the stress down. Women with severe PMS, abnormal period symptoms such as heavy bleeding or very little bleeding should speak with their gynecologist or midwife about these symptoms.