Self-care is taking care of your physical, nutritional, emotional, spiritual needs as a whole and making them and yourself a priority. It is important all the time, but it is particularly important during your period and the 2-3 days before it.
Think of all of the indicators that you are about to start your period; headaches, cramps, cravings, fatigue… if you get any at all! It is important to be able to recognise these and in some cases plan your life accordingly, especially if you experience a lot of symptoms or have a problem with your period. Even if you have quite an easy time during your period and it comes and goes without much attention from you, it is important to look after yourself, because your body is working really hard – getting rid of your old womb lining and working with very low levels of hormones that make you feel good. Remember, everyone’s period and menstrual cycle are different so some of these self-care tips might work for you and some might not.
We are going to consider some ways we might look after ourselves physically and emotionally, both during our period and always.
As well as physical wellness our mental wellness is important, natural hormonal fluctuations can mean some people struggle to feel emotionally balanced during certain days of their cycle. This is more likely to happen when you are due your period (the end of your luteal phase, or during your period). Again, recognising these emotions fluctuations and being kind to yourself is important. Acknowledging these feelings and finding a way to manage them through self-care can provide some relief. You might feel like you want to spend more time with your friends and keep yourself occupied or you might find that you want to retreat and live under blankets for a week or so.
Activities such as; Journaling, meditation (Headspace app), reading, gentle exercise, chatting with a friend or family member may help. Increasing your confidence when it comes to managing your period (finding period products, comfy clothes, and a method of pain relief such as a hot water bottle or over the counter medication) can increase your confidence and help you feel better about that time of the month.
Recognising how your mood moves with your cycle can be really important to managing your emotions and giving yourself what you need. Extreme emotional mood swings should be discussed with your GP, especially if you are struggling to manage them using the strategies listed above.
There is a link between how you feel and what you eat during your menstrual cycle as a whole and how you feel, how much pain you experience and how much blood you lose during your period. It is important to try your best to eat well most of the time (think 80% healthy, nutritious food) and 20% other food – this might include processed food (think McDonalds), sugary drinks and sweets and energy drinks. It is also important to try your best to keep your stress levels in check as too much stress throughout the month can impact your stress and pain levels during your period. You might want to try some of our strategies for keeping your emotional health in check every day!