I first got my period at the ripe age of eleven. It was a Tuesday summer night, and my mom was out for hot second running errands. Alone, in my bathroom, I was left with a few things: brownish residue and, quite honestly, teeming excitement. I thought to myself, I am officially a woman now, no longer a petulant and juvenile girl. I felt great, unaware of the horrific cramps I would subsequently deal with years after.
I’m going to be brutally honest: for me, planet Earth seems to stop orbiting around the sun when “Auntie Flo” is in town with all her unwanted baggage. From cramping and bloating to major mood swings and everything in between, menstruation, and the symptoms attached, is the bane of my existence; in most cases, my cycle lasts one week per month, but sometimes, I’ve been an unlucky victim subjected to the worst-case scenario. Yes, it’s temporary and soon, normalcy will return. However, for many of us, periods can be excruciating — dramatics warranted.
Everyone has different tips and tricks to manage Auntie Flo’s stay, myself included. Here’s what I learned over the years, condensed into a much-needed guide on how to survive your period.
1. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
Ladies, we know it’s tough; however, the right exercise regimen can go a long, long way during the infamous “time of the month.” Think lighter activities, such as yoga, walking, swimming, stretching, so on and so forth. Exercise helps increase blood flow, minimizing the brutal pain from cramps and helping you survive your period as a result. I personally recommend dedicating an hour each day to walking outdoors for fresh air — it really makes all the difference. All in all, get off your butt, and start moving!
2. Make Your Heating Pad Your BFF
Heat soothes menstruation cramps and related pain by relaxing the muscles in your abdomen; so, this is the perfect time to whip out your handy-dandy heating pad or buy one ASAP if you don’t have. My heating pad has helped me through the worst of pain whenever Advil had betrayed me.
3. Stay Hydrated
And we don’t mean soda and other soft beverages! Stick to just water, and your body will thank you tremendously. The more water you drink, the more easily your body will eliminate the unwanted bloat and extra water build-up. For this reason, make sure to have a bottle nearby at all times.
4. Choose Healthful Options
This is especially difficult but absolutely necessary. Sadly, sugary, salty, and processed foods are proven to make your cramping worse. Sure, indulge and feed into your cravings if you must, but during this time, consider choosing fruits, veggies, and other options that will help you and your body survive your period. Not to mention, healthier meals and snacks provide hydration and prevent pesky period breakouts and skin woes.
5. Avoid Caffeine
Caffeine — aka, your teas, coffees, sodas, chocolates, etc.— retains water, thereby increasing your bloat. In order to survive your period with ease, it’s crucial to get rid of caffeine altogether from your daily diet. If you still need an energy fix without the hassle, try herbal iced tea, herbal tea, ginger ale, or some dark chocolate.
6. Get Some Extra Rest
Generally, before your period, you’ll experience fatigue, leaving you seemingly preoccupied with nothing other than sleep. So, why is this the case? It’s entirely normal, and a common PMS symptom. According to Healthline, “before your period starts each month, your serotonin levels may fluctuate significantly. This can lead to a major dip in your energy level, which can also affect your mood.” Listen to your body, and prioritize sleep just before and during your period cycle begins.
7. Keep Track Of Your Period Cycle
Organization and preparation are key. When you keep track of your cycle, you’ll have a better understanding of when you’ll be experiencing the worst of your symptoms, and when your period will arrive. In turn, you’ll be able to prepare accordingly; and if the timing is off (read: your period is late), act accordingly. You’ll have peace of mind.
8. Bring Feminine Products With You At All Times
The worst feeling out there is, the sheer panic that comes upon the unexpected period, with you realizing you have zero tampons and/or pads in sight — all happening in the middle of a public restroom stall. Don’t be that girl: make sure your purse, car compartments, work drawers, etc. are STOCKED with feminine hygiene products.
9. Take Pain Medication
Advil is my go-to support during my period, and that’s because over-the-counter pain medications can help manage and alleviate any pain. Like feminine products, you should bring along some pain meds for whenever you’re on the go. This particular quick tip has saved me during workdays when I couldn’t afford to endure the trouble.
10. Wear Comfortable Clothes
This isn’t the time to start sporting tight skirts and dresses, elaborate heels, and other restrictive garments. If possible, stick to leggings, flowy tops, loose jeans, and underwhelming pairs of shoes. Not only will you feel more comfortable and gentle, but you’ll probably feel more at ease knowing you won’t necessarily mind if these items become messy from god knows what. I typically enjoy trendier pieces; however, during this time, I prefer baggier dresses that provide me with plenty of room to breathe, move, and basically exist without pain. This outfit choice really makes all the difference and enables me to survive my period.
11. Practice “Me” Time
You should always be putting yourself first, but especially when you’re trying to survive your period. Don’t feel pressured to go out and socialize if you don’t want to; take the time to unwind and nourish your soul. Blast some music. Write in a journal. Watch your favorite rom-com. Take a bubble bath. Do what makes you happy because that will help make your period all the more bearable. If you’re stuck on conjuring “me” time ideas, I suggest indulging in a boujee and/or drugstore face mask, and binge-watching season three of Stranger Things.
12. If Things Get Unbearable, Consult a Doctor
Some pain and discomfort are normal during your period; however, when it becomes completely unmanageable, you should consult a doctor for the next steps. A medical professional may recommend different medications, courses of action to take, and specialists that can further help alleviate your pain.
How do you survive your period? Comment below with your suggestions.
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I'm Dom, and I believe life's most simple pleasures are Chipotle, a good eyeshadow palette, and a group-chat worthy meme.