Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
How To Practice Self-Care During Your Period
Published Oct 9th, 2021 & updated on Oct 8th, 2021
You’ve been feeling off for the past week. Your stomach is unhappy, you’ve got a wicked headache, and you cried HARD with every dog video that was on your fyp. You don’t know why everything has felt so weird, but then you get that feeling and remember that you have a uterus…and that it likes to painfully remind you of its existence. AHH it all makes sense now. Your body was just giving you warning signs your period is coming!
Periods can be an annoying block to living a happy, functional, comfortable life, even before they begin. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) affects over 90 percent of people who have periods, and if our math is right, that’s, like, A LOT of people. Here are six signs your period may be coming, and how to take care of yourself so it’s a bit more bearable.
Signs Your Period Is Coming
You may notice all of these or only some of these! We hope it’s the latter.
Period cramps can happen during your period, but they can also be a sign that it’s about to start. They can range from mildly annoying to straight up painful. This is caused by your uterus contracting in order to shed its uterine lining. Unfortunately, you can feel that squeeze, too. Not fun.
Your fave jeans went from fitting your body well to cut-off-circulation kind of tight, and it’s only been a week since you last wore them. Yeeeahh, that’s probably bloating, and that can get worse when you PMS. Throw on a loose, flowy pair of pants, call it a fashion choice. No one has to know.
3. Mood Swings
Since when did videos of baby ducks make you sob uncontrollably? Thank you PMS. Mood swings can get more intense before your period. Watch some tear jerkers and let it all out. We feel your struggle.
4. Tender Breasts
As if all of the above wasn’t enough, why don’t we add sore breasts to the list? About halfway through your cycle, your progesterone levels start to increase, which swells the mammary glands and causes them to be sore. Greeeeat. Bust out your comfiest bras and loosest sweaters for the next week or so.
5. Headaches and Migraines
That pounding in your head might be hormone-related. Over 50% of people who already deal with migraines report migraine issues before they menstruate, and you’re 1.7-2.5x more likely to get a migraine while PMSing. The cherry on top of an already shitty time.
Do you notice acne flare-ups when you PMS? Yeah, you’re not alone. A 2001 study found that just under half of the menstruating population dealt with increased acne before their periods. Get that skincare routine on lock and prepare for a few extra zits.
5 Self-Care Tips for PMS and Periods
So now that you know your period is on its way, how do you take care of yourself? It can be tempting to let go of all self-care when periods make life that much more uncomfortable but trust us, focusing on self-care is gonna help you feel better. We’ve got some tips and tricks to make that “time of the month” a little easier on you.
1. Keep a Menstrual Calendar
Whether you have a physical calendar, a little red mark on your journal entries, or you use a period tracker app, knowing when your period is coming is going to help you understand all those PMS symptoms you’re feeling. Plus, it can remind you to restock on whatever you need to get you through the week! Pads, tampons, intimate wipes, Kleenex, chocolate bars (ps there’s an M&M bar that is absolutely amazing). We have Lunette Intimate Wipes on our list because they’re made with vulva-friendly ingredients so you can use them in any place you want. You can even clean your menstrual cup with them. No more mess, no more stress. It always helps to know what’s coming.
2. Get Moving
Exercise can be the last thing on your mind when it feels like there’s a cage match going on in your uterus. That said, it’s been proven to be beneficial to your mental health, and can spread all those happy endorphins in your brain. Doing some sort of physical activity for just 30 minutes per day can have huge benefits. Don’t worry if it’s not a 30 minute HIIT, extra sweaty workout – even a walk around the block or a tiny bit of yoga will do!
3. Take a Warm Bath (and a Mindfulness Moment)
Getting into a warm, relaxing bath can reduce stress and loosen up tense muscles, which is exactly what your body needs right now. You can try adding the Lunette Intimate Cleanser to the routine to feel extra refreshed and rejuvenated. It’s vegan, pH balanced and infused with Nordic Oil to cleanse, soothe, and moisturize. And since you’re already taking this time for yourself, you may want to throw in a mindfulness exercise to help bring some calm vibes into the symptom firestorm. Breathe in for 4 counts. Hold it for 4 counts. Breathe out for 4 counts. Much better.
4. Manage Period Pain
All the baths, exercise, and journaling in the world isn’t going to make your life easier if you’re still in pain. You can help period cramps with over-the-counter medication (like ibuprofen), a heat pad applied to the back or pelvis area, stretching, and taking the right vitamins. If you’ve noticed that your periods are more painful than they used to be, or there have been more intense symptoms, you may want to book an appointment with a gynecologist. Don’t be worried about the visit – they’ve seen it all, and they want to help you understand your body and your options.
5. Talk About It
Stigma around menstruation can cause the whole topic to be very hush hush. But menstruating people spend, on average, 3500 days of their life menstruating. That’s about nine and a half years. Considering that it’s soooo much time in menstruating people’s lives, talking openly about it just makes sense. Plus, there are mental health benefits around talking about it, like reducing shame and letting those around you know what you’re going through. So call a menstruating person in your life and swap some PMS and period stories.
Now that you’ve tried some techniques to take care of yourself during your period, how do you stick to it? Make it a routine! Developing a self-care plan can help you prioritize your wellbeing in this busy, crampy, bloaty time. While developing your period plan, maybe you leave more room for slow, relaxed stretches and warm bubble baths than you would at other times of the month. Good luck out there!
*This article is sponsored by Lunette.