Updated: Apr 24, 2021
Menstruating is hard. And maybe one of the most difficult parts of it is that life doesn't stop. Despite the fact that periods have been happening since the dawn of time, the patriarchal society that we live in is particularly unsympathetic to the symptoms of furthering the human race. In our last post, Mental Health and Your Period, we covered the biology that makes that time of the month so difficult for your mental health. Today, we'll be going through some tips to help you get through it! And the great thing is that though these suggestions were chosen specifically with your mental health in mind, your physical wellness will definitely benefit as well. Because your mental health is just as important as your physical health - especially when your body is forcibly shedding the lining of your womb into your brand new white pants.
Vitamin B6 and Magnesium
As we learned in our last installment, the body's progesterone levels drop during your period. Vitamin B6 has been known to increase production of progesterone, a hormone that produces calming, anti-anxiety affects. Magnesium, which helps to relieve cramps, works in conjunction with Vitamin B6 to regulate your cycle, ease bloating, encourages good sleep, and also helps with anxiety.
Track Your Cycle
One of the worst parts of your cycle is how suddenly it can sneak up on you. One minute you're feeling like the boss of your own destiny and the next you're curled up on the floor, sobbing, because of the grandpa in the commercial with the kind eyes. Tracking your cycle will help you prepare for the worst: you'll be able to stock up on those vitamins, pencil in a little more time for light exercise, and won't destroy your new set of sheets.
Stick to a Good Sleep Schedule
This one is a good general life practice. By sleeping and waking at scheduled times and making sure to get enough sunlight, we're instilling good habits in the body that support us when period-induced insomnia comes knocking. While it may not completely ward off sleep difficulties, setting yourself up for success by sticking to healthy habits is something that can only serve you both on and off your period.
Eat to Promote Balance
We all know that eating healthy is, well, healthy. But past that general knowledge, it's easy to forget the reasons why we eat healthy or to eat healthy for the wrong reasons. Committing to a well-balanced diet is especially important on our period - after all, why throw your body off balance when it's already struggling with the tidal wave of hormones?
Remind yourself that food is fuel, and eat with the intention to promote balance - this is where that tracking will come in handy too, so you'll be able to stock up on foods that will help you cultivate a balanced internal biome. Lessen your intake of foods that throw the body off balance, such as caffeine, sugar, and alcohol, and choose foods based on what nutritional benefits you feel that you need more of. Yogurt is full of probiotics that help lower stress, anxiety, and depression. Dark leafy greens are great to protect your brain.
As with all diet suggestions, it's important to consult with a licensed dietitian or your doctor, and to listen to your body. These suggestions aren't meant to limit you or to make you feel guilty - they're just meant to bring some awareness to how what you eat can serve your mental health. But that's the beautiful thing about balance - it's specific to each body, and it doesn't mean to completely cut out one food group or another. If you want ice cream, have some ice cream! And good news - dark chocolate is known to help release endorphins and to boost your mood.
I know, I know. This is probably the last thing that you want to do while your entire body
aches and you feel like you've just expelled a pint of blood. But! Exercise is incredible to help with hormone regulation, increases your endorphins, enhances mood, and can actually alleviate pain when done at the correct intensity. Stick to gentle, low intensity exercise such as yoga and pilates, and leave the power lifting and HIIT for the week after.