It has taken me a long time to recognise that time of the month as sacred. For years, I cursed my period as one of the worst things I had to endure as a woman. Every month I would deal with all the usual symptoms, becoming quickly overwhelmed by erratic emotions and painful cramps. All I wanted was to be alone in bed for a few days, hibernating until the dreaded thing passed me by.
Little by little, I started to take matters into my own hands. Now, my monthly cycle is no longer a time of doom, but something I appreciate as my body doing its natural thing.
Hopefully some of my Moon Cycle Rituals will help others out there who dread or struggle with this time.
Period cramps can be some of the most debilitating pains in the world. Unfortunately, we cannot just disappear from the world for several days a month, so here are some options (along with painkillers):
Water: drink plenty. Nuff said.
Magnesium: a natural muscle relaxant. I always take this supplement, especially around that time of the month and find it very helpful for reducing and relieving cramps.
Hot Water Bottle: when at home, I always have a hot water bottle handy, refilling it when needed. There is nothing worse than cold for cramping muscles, so the heat will soothe and ease pain.
Bath/Shower: Another honourable mention in the “heat” category is a bath or shower. The bonus is you can really make a self-care ritual from it, with candles, essential oils and the works! Fluffy towels… favourite magazine… time to yourself? BLISS! Again, it heats all your muscles to help you relax. If you do have a bath, I highly recommend epsom salts, which contain MAGNESIUM that is readily absorbed into your body to ease your muscles.
Yoga: I recommend a gentle, short practice with plenty of floor work. Child’s pose, cat/cow, gentle twists, bridge pose are all excellent. Avoid being upside down for long periods and work at about 70% of your normal yoga capacity. In fact, a daily yoga practice can also help reduce painful symptoms at that time of month, because of effects to your endocrine system.
Movies: I actually prefer to watch YouTube, but there’s nothing like a good chick flick when you need a cry. Keep tissues at the ready and invite over your sister, mom, girlfriend or maybe even a willing boyfriend. Now is also the time to have period-friendly snacks at the ready. I love roasted chickpeas, bliss balls rolled in coconut, and endless cups of licorice or spearmint tea. **by the way licorice has been shown to stabilise blood sugar levels, and spearmint regulates hormone levels – yippee!**
Journaling and art: any creative outlet will keep your mind distracted and focused on something beautiful. Don’t try to create anything tricky or finicky just now, keep it simple and fun or risk frustration and hysteria (speaking from experience here)
Hugs: whether from your Significant Other, your bestie, your pooch or your pillow. Cuddle things and get those endorphins.
Meditation: Abide in your place of inner light. Emotions are only energy in motion: they come and go. There is always an unchanging spot of stillness inside yourself. Whatever the waves of emotion may be rolling at the surface, dive deep to grab a snippet of that stillness. It can carry you through anything.
Foods To Avoid (what to eat instead!)
Sugar!! I know it is almost every girl’s first instinct to reach for a bar of chocolate, but too much refined sugar will increase mood swings (something to do with unstable levels of blood sugar and hormones at this time).
—-> Try halving a banana and smothering it in peanut butter or high cocoa content melted chocolate
Salt: increases water retention and again is not good for muscle cramps. Processed foods should be avoided at all costs, especially crisps, chips or take-out. Actually I also avoid too much bread, as I consider it to have that same “soaking up water” effect. The key is really to keep your body and muscles SUPER HYDRATED so that you can stay pain-free.
—-> Try roasting some potatoes with a sprinkle of sea salt or pink salt instead
Caffeine and alcohol: as soon as I notice my mood slipping or the onset of cramps, I cut these two out. Both are diuretics, causing your body to flush out water. I’ve noticed that caffeine ends up making me dehydrated and stressed, as if it drinks water from my body instead of hydrating me! As for alcohol, it does nothing to help my moods, which means I can be in a foul temper or down in the dumps and then make it worse with a glass of wine.
—-> Swap out coffee for a chicory drink (yum coffee alternative) – swap black tea for herbal tea – swap alcohol for water, juice or kombucha