Periods can suck! Between cramps, headaches, backache, mood swings and other uncomfortable symptoms, it’s no surprise that it’s a dreaded time of the month for lots of us. What this does mean is that it’s even more important that you take care of yourself during this time, and one of the best ways that you can do this is to pamper yourself! From warm salt baths to a home massage, these are our top six ways to pamper yourself while on your period. For ultimate relief from cramps and low mood.
Warm water can offer relief from cramps and help you to feel more relaxed, and the addition of epsom salts can help ease your sore muscles. It’s the ultimate hot water bottle! You can also light some candles or put on some soothing music to create a spa-like atmosphere in your home. Fill the bath with bubbles, smellies and salts, and sit back and relax.
If you haven’t got a bath, hot cloths, hot water bottles, heat pads and showers can all help to relax your muscles and relieve some of your uncomfortable period symptoms.
If you have muscle aches or cramps, a massage can help to alleviate your pain and reduce your stress levels and boost your mood by releasing endorphins and serotonin.
If you can’t get to a professional massage therapist, a self massage around your lower abdomen should do the job. Or, ask a loved one to give you a gentle message where you’re feeling the most discomfort — just don’t exert pressure on the bones.
If you haven’t got a massage oil to hand, you can make one yourself with coconut oil and a few drops of essential oils, such as eucalyptus, lemongrass and lavender.
Before and during your period, your body may crave certain foods due to your levels of hormones or serotonin. Common cravings tend to be carbohydrates and sweets, though this could look different to you.
During your period, you should listen to your body and indulge a little bit in these foods to make you feel better and boost your mood. Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants, and a great way to fulfil those sweet cravings.
On the other hand, you should avoid eating too much processed food as this could lead to a spike and dip in blood glucose levels, which might leave you feeling fatigued. Instead, eat nourishing foods, such as roasted root veg or soups, that will comfort you and do good for your bod.
It is also thought that certain vitamins and minerals can help to suppress intense cravings and relieve certain PMS symptoms. This includes Calcium, Vitamin B6 and Magnesium, though you should consider eating iron-rich foods or supplements as well, as these boost your iron stores when you’re losing blood.
Alongside the emotional toll it takes on us, periods can make us feel exhausted. “It is thought that PMS could be triggered by a drop in oestrogen and serotonin,” Dr Khan tells Cosmopolitan, “resulting in a double whammy for mood swings and energy levels.” And it’s no surprise! During your period, your body is going through a lot, so it’s important that you get enough rest.
Make sure to get enough sleep at night, but also take naps during the day if you need to. You can also eat energy-boosting foods, such as oatmeal, bananas and beans, to bring your energy levels up.
Remember to avoid overexerting yourself when you’re on too. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t feel as energised as normal and can’t run 10 miles! Instead, embrace light exercise like walking or yoga to feel better.
On that note, as much as exercise is the last thing you want to do when you’re on, light exercise can do wonders for your cramps as it is a natural painkiller. Try ten minutes of walking or yoga, or up the ante with a cycle or pilates session.
As well as an effective pain reliever, exercise can decrease fatigue and mood swings, and boost your endorphins — giving you that workout “high” which makes you feel good.
One study on exercise for dysmenorrhea in 854 women found that ‘exercise may have a large effect on reducing menstrual pain intensity compared to no exercise’ and that women should consider using exercise, either alone or in conjunction with other modalities, to manage menstrual pain.
Oxytocin is the hormone of love that helps us bond with loved ones, and can be released through touch, music and exercise. Spending time with your friends, family and partner when on your period, or just giving someone a hug or having a cuddle, can boost your oxytocin and make you feel loads better.
Some other ways that you can boost your oxytocin levels when you are on include listening to music, showing love and affection (e.g. telling someone you love them, cooking for someone, laughing, meditation and petting a dog, cat or other pet.
And there you have it — six ways that you can pamper yourself while on your period. Although your time of the month can be a difficult time, we know that these six simple activities will help you to feel better, either through relieving pain or boosting your mood.
Written by Holly, on behalf of Cheeky Pants — suppliers of reusable period pants and pads.