6 Ways to Take Care of Yourself During Your Period

I bet I know what your favorite time each month is…

And I bet it’s every week except the week of your cycle.

Let’s be honest here: “that time of the month” just isn’t fun.

I remember the tampon and pad commercials from my teen years — images of red-lipped women in white pants on a cruise ship, sipping their mixed drink, laughing and talking like they didn’t have a care in the world. Or the teenage girls in bikinis who jumped into the swimming pool with their friends, like a tampon made that possible.

Seriously, who wants to wear white pants or a bikini on the first day of their period?

All the women I know loathe their time of the month. Brushing our hair and wearing non-elastic pants are big accomplishments. Red lipstick and white garments of any sort are out of the question.

I think most of us would like to forget about the whole business altogether.

Except we can’t … because it (hopefully) arrives like clockwork, every 21 to 34 days — yep, that’s normal!

The reasons for having tough periods are as numerous as the stars: genetics, nutrient deficiencies, hormone imbalances, food intolerances, leaky gut … the list goes on and on.

And while I will say that my period now is a cakewalk compared to the periods I had in my teens and 20s, it’s still not the week that I circle on the calendar and wait for with giddy anticipation.

A Sacred Pause

The first day of my period brings with it an overwhelming desire for peace and rest. I find myself to be more contemplative during this week above all other weeks. I am quieter, slower, and gentler than usual.

I have always wished so much that I could go on with life as if nothing was happening to my body, yet I feel an instinctive urge to be in a restful, horizontal posture. I have figured out that my body’s been trying to tell me something for years:

“This is not a time for life as usual — this is a time to pause. This is a time to take care of me.”

Finally, after over 20 years of being a menstruating woman, I am listening.

I don’t pressure myself to carry on as usual, to keep up with my usual tasks, to plaster on a smile and pretend like everything’s just fine.

I use the week of my cycle as a sacred pause.

Rather than fighting my period, I allow myself to lean into it and embrace it as my body’s way of resetting each month.

And my body likes to start each new month off with rest and inward focus.

So here are the practices I follow to take care of myself during the couple of days of my cycle when I’m just not feeling so great.

1. Take It Easy

Most days, my motto in life is “Get ‘er done”. I’m a go-getter, and it’s very hard for me to be still for long. It’s next to impossible for me to do nothing.

Yet, that is exactly what our bodies need sometimes.

Whether the roughest part of the month for you is the first day of your period or the couple of days before it, taking it easy is one way you can take care of YOU.

The most uncomfortable day for me is the first day of my period. I feel crampy and sluggish and just plain tired. I don’t feel like cooking elaborate meals or cleaning the house from top to bottom or running errands … so I don’t.

I create most of the urgency to get things done myself — I usually don’t have deadlines to meet. Of course, if I do, I summon up what little energy I have, and do what must be done. Or I ask my husband to help when and if he can.

Usually, however, I can anticipate when my period will arrive and I plan accordingly.

For meals, my children are perfectly capable of making themselves scrambled eggs and toast or a bowl of yogurt with berries for breakfast. Leftovers are my saving grace at lunch time. And for supper, I either throw dinner in the crock pot or set out meat for my hubby to grill. A simple side, like baked sweet potatoes, gives us a complete meal that requires very little hands-on time from me.

For housework, I don’t do a whole lot. Since I know when to expect my period, I intentionally plan to not have company over around that time, so I don’t have the added pressure of cleaning house for guests.

My children have assigned chores, so they help out with folding laundry, cleaning the bathroom, and washing dishes.

The rough part of my cycle lasts only a day or two. The crumbs on the floor and dust on the shelves won’t go anywhere. 😉

2. Secret Sabbath

For the past several months, I have made the first day of my period my “Secret Sabbath”.

A Sabbath is simply a day of rest and reflection. I feel very introverted and introspective on the first day of my period. I need a day of inward-focused thought and time to myself.

It is my day to do whatever restful things I choose to do — take a nap or an Epsom salt bath, read a book, or watch a favorite movie. I make the time and space on that day to do any or all of these things.

The only wall of resistance I find myself bumping into, however, is the one our current culture built in my mind. There is a part of me that resists this secret sabbath, a voice that speaks in disapproving tones of laziness and selfishness, of the shame of taking so many steps back for women everywhere, of setting an example for my own daughters that is weak and self-indulgent.

But I continue to quietly push back against those lies, knowing in my heart that sabbath never about self-indulgence — it’s about self-care. Sabbath is never about shame — it’s about choosing restoration and healing. Sabbath is is never about weakness — it’s about possessing the strength to choose rest. –from Secret Sabbath: a Gentle Invitation to Once-a-Month Rest by Megan Tietz

A Secret Sabbath — a once-a-month embrace of my body’s need for rest — just feels right.

As unpleasant as a period can be, I actually look forward to my Secret Sabbath each month. It’s like my own mini vacation in the comfort and privacy of my own home.

I don’t have little children anymore, but if you do, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a Secret Sabbath.

Send the children out to play while you read a book and eat a bite of dark chocolate from a safe distance. Or make Netflix your best friend for the day. (Hey, I’m being totally honest here.)

My children can occupy themselves with a book, a craft, or LEGOs, and respect that Mommy needs some quiet time alone for the day.

I also plan to pass the monthly tradition of a Secret Sabbath on to my daughter when her time comes. She will nurture herself rather than push herself because her body needs respite.

3. Natural Feminine Hygiene

Switching from pads and tampons to a reusable menstrual cup and cloth pads was a game-changer for me!

I feel like my periods became much less severe when I began using a menstrual cup. AND, I’m nearly certain they’re shorter in duration.

Ladies, conventional pads and tampons are out; natural feminine hygiene is in!

This is a natural, easy, and environmentally-friendly way to take care of yourself during your period.

4. Essential Oils

Use clary sage and frankincense essential oils throughout the month to help support your reproductive hormones. I continue to use these oils during my cycle, as well.

Peppermint oil can provide much-needed pain relief. Rub it on your lower abdomen for cramps, on your lower back for pain, or on the back of your neck to relieve a headache.

Add a drop of lemon oil to your water as a natural diuretic to help eliminate bloating and water weight. This will also help if you find yourself a bit constipated right before your period starts.

Diffuse essential oils to lift your mood if you feel depressed or lack energy. Sweet orange, peppermint, and grapefruit oils work well for this purpose.

Check out The Ultimate Guide to Essential Oils {and which oils do what} for how to use essential oils for hormone balance, pain relief, and reproductive health.

This excellent article explains in detail about which oils to use and how to use them to support hormone balance.

5. Proper Nutrition

I can’t say it enough: eating Real Food makes rough periods better.

Do you have food intolerances or leaky gut? Please work toward eliminating problem foods from your diet and healing your gut. It may seem odd that your digestive health has something to do with your ovaries and uterus, but it does!

In fact, Dr. Amy Myers lists PMS and hormone imbalances as one of 9 signs that you have a leaky gut!

I have personally experienced less PMS and a less painful and much lighter period since changing my diet to consist of lots of good protein and veggies and very little sugar and grains.

Because you lose blood during the first couple of days of your period, consume grass-fed liver. It will replenish iron and combat fatigue. If you can’t stomach liver, try dessicated liver capsules!

I enjoy my Pineapple-Carrot-Turmeric Spritzer during my cycle to ease cramping and headaches. This drink alleviates fatigue and just makes me feel better. It’s like taking liquid Tylenol — without the nasty chemicals! That’s why I declared it the Best Period Drink Ever!

6. Coffee Enemas

It’s no secret that I love coffee enemas! So it shouldn’t be a surprise that I recommend them during your cycle. 🙂

Coffee enemas are an AMAZING tool to take care of yourself any time, including during your period.

Have you ever taken an over-the-counter medicine that’s specifically formulated for periods? I’m talking about pills like Midol and Pamprin. These pills contain pain relievers like acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen, but they also contain caffeine.

The makers of these drugs know we feel tired and slow during the days before and during our periods. They count on that fatigue to sell us a pill to boost our mood and give us energy when we need it most.

Coffee enemas provide the exact same benefits — without the risks. They can boost your mood, mental clarity, energy levels, AND provide pain relief.

In fact, guess what medics did for pain during World War I when morphine was in short supply? Coffee enemas! That’s how effective they are!

I have experienced almost immediate relief of cramping, headache, lower back pain, and fatigue after performing a coffee enema on the first day of my period. Plus, it’s another great way to rest and have some quiet time to yourself!

Read more about the 5 Unexpected Benefits of Coffee Enemas {for women!}.