Having your period can go relatively unnoticed for some women. However, as someone who has endured terrible PMS, I can empathise with the struggle to feel good whilst on your period.
In fact, as reported by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the struggle is so real for 20% of women that period pains actually impair them from performing daily functions. When you think about the fact this can mean you aren’t feeling like your best self for a whole quarter of you menstruating life, it seems obvious that something needs to change.
Making long-term lifestyle changes can help reduce the effects of PMS altogether on a more permanent basis. However, sometimes you need a quick boost to try and have a pain-free period. So instead of letting your period control your life, here’s four steps on how to glow on your flow.
We’ve all had days where we can’t be bothered to get ourselves up and go to the gym for a workout. This almost always applies more when we’re on our periods and have even less energy than usual. Whilst there’s no shame in skipping your usual routine, if you can muster up the energy, exercise can be an instant mind and body booster.
Those who are feeling a bit more active should engage in some light cardio, like walking or running. This will help give you that extra lift by raising Endorphin levels. Endorphins act both as a natural painkiller, combating any aches you may be experiencing, and also as a mood enhancer. The full body movement of cardio also helps get your blood pumping, which will help direct it away from any points where you may feel in pain.
The thought of this level of exercise may be a bit much for some. If you’re one of them, you may be better off trying something a little gentler and more relaxing, like swimming or doing yoga. These activities can be especially helpful for those who suffer from bad cramps, as they stretch out the muscles around your abdomen and lower back to help reduce pain. The deep breathing associated with yoga can also be a useful way to relax both you and your body.
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2. Get Your Nutrients
Eating nutritious foods can sometimes be challenging during your period. Low levels of energy might see you reaching for something quick and easy, like chocolate or sugar, instead of something homemade. But, with a little bit of preparation, taking in something nutritious can be just as simple. Ensuring you eat the right foods during your period is especially important, as it can help to balance out the changes happening in your body.
Consuming a large dose of leafy greens will not only fill your body with general wellness, but their high levels of iron will help replace those that have been lost during menstruation. Low iron levels are one of the biggest reasons we feel lethargic during menstruation and this tiredness generally leads to us feeling worse overall.
If you know you’re going to be feeling lazy during your period - and who isn’t - a great idea is to pre-prep and freeze smoothie mixtures filled with greens and fruits in advance. That way, you have a quick and instant energy boost in a glass and all it takes is 5 minutes in a blender.
Another great food source to try and incorporate during your period is anything rich in Omega-3. This can include fatty fish like salmon, walnuts, avocados – or even CBD oil, if you’re keeping it veggie-friendly.
The benefits of Omega-3 are numerous: it can act to reduce inflammation and it can be especially great to make sure you’re eating it around the time of your period to help reduce cramp pains. Omega-3 also contains the fatty acid EPA, which helps keep the skin glowing by regulating oil production and improving hydration – perfect for those who suffer from period breakouts.
3. Natural Supplements
Instead of reaching for the Ibuprofen, it’s worth looking into how natural supplements can help with pain relief.
A series of studies have shown that magnesium supplements have helped women to control the severity of menstrual cramps, as well as other related symptoms like headaches and nausea. This is believed to be because of magnesium’s relaxing effect on muscles. Another way this mineral is reported to help is by reducing the levels of prostaglandins in the uterus. A build up of these can result in a lack of oxygen, which is needed for muscles to function properly.
Another natural method to consider is using a CBD suppository. Whilst there isn’t currently studies directly linking the use of CBD specifically with period pains, there is evidence that cannabis works for pains and spasms in general in part due to its supposed anti-inflammatory nature. Along with this there is a growing movement of women, including Whoopi Goldberg, who are petitioning for period pains to be added to the list of conditions that qualify for medical cannabis use.
Using a CBD suppository in this instance can be especially beneficial for a number of reasons. Firstly, this is the fastest way for the CBD to be absorbed into the blood stream, so it will give more immediate results. Secondly, as it is being administered locally, it will allow the CBD to have a greater effect on the surrounding regions. And don’t worry, the suppository will still be fully functional and safe to use during menstruation, without risk of losing any of the effects through blood loss.
4. Be Intuitive to Your Body
One of the most important things to remember during your period is to listen to your body. Not only is everyone different, but every period is different – just because you feel fully able to do an intense workout one month, it doesn’t mean you will the next one. As your body is already going through a period of stress (literally!), it’s best not to push it. Whilst keeping the ideas above in mind can help, it’s also totally acceptable to take some time off and embrace the changes happening in your body. Women so often feel like they have to be on-the-go 24/7, but there is absolutely no shame or guilt in just having a chill night in.
In fact, there have been suggestions that stress actually worsens the negative effects that periods can have on the body. This means it’s important to find a stress reliever that works for you. Whether that means relaxing in a hot bath or spending the day in bed catching up on your favourite TV series is up to you. If you want to try something else, there’s even science behind the claim that having an orgasm can help with the pain! Not only does it release those feel-good natural painkiller-Endorphins, like Oxytocin and Dopamine, but it can also increase your pain threshold for hours afterwards.
Whatever you decide is best for you, try and remember that having your period needn’t be a painful or stressful time of the month. As it is a natural part of life and can even be seen as a time of rejuvenation, try and celebrate your body by keeping in tune with it and finding the balance that makes you glow.