Periods get a bad rap. Generally framed as something to endure or get through (thanks, patriarchy), there are 5,000 euphemisms for periods around the world, many of which aren’t particularly positive: “That time of the month.” “Aunt Flo’s in town.” “Shark week.” “Code red.”
In truth, our menstrual cycles deserve more respect. The period is considered by some to be the fifth vital sign of health—just as important in assessing your state of wellness as your blood pressure, temperature, pulse and respiratory rate. It’s a helpful barometer that shows up every month to let you know how your body’s reacting to the world around you.
And so we’re proposing a habit shift: What if instead of dreading your menstrual cycle or that first sign of blood, you honored it? What if you used your luteal phase fatigue as a reason (not an excuse!) to take a nap, and accepted your flow days as a time to give yourself more flexibility, to reconnect with your physical body? Here are eight ways to harness your feminine power and embrace your period through self-care.
Change the language: Doula and women’s health educator Erica Chidi Cohen started a movement when she promoted the use of body-literate language such as “I’m luteal” rather than “I’m PMS-ing,” and we’re here for it. Educate yourself on the other cycles beyond just your menstrual phase, and don’t shy away from using the proper terminology.
Learn the signs: Each cycle phase is marked by different energy levels, cravings and moods. Use a period tracker to help yourself recognize your symptoms before they start and prepare accordingly. Want to take it one step further? Start to notice how your cycle aligns with the moon’s phases–pretty wild stuff.
Reconnect with your body: Take a bath. Exercise. Masturbate. Try something that helps you get out of your head and into your body—whether that’s submerging yourself in water, feeling your feet in the dirt, or doing a little yin yoga before bed.
Have sex: If you feel like it, lay a towel down and get busy—by yourself or with a partner. Blood actually makes for very good lube.
Say no: Give yourself the time and space to be less productive during this time if you’re able to. Can you offload a few to-do list items during your period? It’s counterintuitive to everything in our culture, but having a little flexibility when you’re feeling fatigued is so helpful for mental/emotional health and combating feelings of burnout.
<<READ MORE: Consider *This* Your PMS Meal Plan (You’re Welcome)>>
Get more sleep: You’ve heard it before, and we’ll say it again: sleep is so, so crucial to health. Think of it as a winding down for all your senses—and thus your central nervous system. Dim the lights after dinner, play soft music, take a magnesium bath, try to declutter your bedroom and create a haven for yourself. Then try to get an extra hour when you can during your period.
Have a period uniform: Reaching for comfy clothes that make you feel good are always a smart idea. Think: cocooning yourself natural fabrics like cotton, linen, wool or silk; sticking to soft silhouettes (i.e. elastic waistbands or no waistbands altogether); skipping the bra; or just saving a favorite sweatshirt + pants set paired with period underwear for your heavier days.
Reduce your technology use: We’re not just talking about blue light at night (though that’s not great, either), but getting back to elemental basics. Like choosing one night a week during your flow to resist the Netflix urge and read a book instead, or to eat dinner by candlelight or turn your phone to airplane mode after 8pm. Try it and see how your body feels.