In the past, I’ve been totally guilty of not showing kindness to my body during my cycle. I would eat junk food as soon as I started feeling cramps. I’d eat nothing but chocolate and popcorn for like three days. And then when I felt poorly, I’d blame it on being on my period and be done with it. I paid little attention to the actual needs my body had. I felt like, if I acknowledged them, I was acknowledging defeat. Like my body would have won, and I would just be along for the ride.
When I started using a natural, non-hormonal form of birth control, I decided I didn’t want my life to be like that anymore. I got much more in tune with my body, and I’ve realized that showing a bit of kindness to yourself, especially during your cycle, makes all the difference.
*Disclaimer before we go forward – I am writing this as a cisgender woman who feels no body dysphoria. I also do not suffer from any conditions like PCOS, or endometriosis. I understand that everyone has different emotions towards their period and that peoples’ cycles can make them feel myriad different emotions. If you don’t end up feeling “yay, periods!” after reading this, I hope you can take away something about showing more kindness to yourself, regardless of the circumstances.
Start with self-love, and go from there.
The most important change I made was to change my mindset. I decided my period wasn’t an inconvenience. It was going to be a time where I slowed down and gave myself grace from here on out. So I slowed down. I listened to my body. I tried to eat whole foods and fruits and veggies like all of the other “how to handle your period” articles say to, but if I wanted salty food or chocolate, I didn’t say no to those either. Wanting chocolate during my period isn’t a crime, especially when dark chocolate helps your periods!
Going from viewing my period as an inconvenient reminder that another month had passed to a time to rest and rejuvenate myself was revolutionary. Instead of sighing and popping a million Motrin and ignoring my body, I embraced myself.
You aren’t going to feel the same during the different parts of your cycle, and you aren’t supposed to.
Learning about the actual science behind my cycle helped as well. Did you know your period is technically the first phase of the menstrual cycle, not the last? It’s a rebirth (no pun intended), not an ending. You have four phases to a cycle, and your hormones vary drastically between these phases. Because of that, the way you feel is going to change.
Having these emotions isn’t wrong, even if in Western culture it’s a punchline to say a woman who is feeling something – anything – is on her period. I think it’s beautiful to feel all of them, whatever they may be. I cried watching a video of a husky puppy get a bath on Facebook the other day, and even that to me is an expression of feeling that I wasn’t going to deny myself.
Showing yourself kindness during this time is one of the most revolutionary changes I’ve made to my life. After growing up learning that I should complain about my “time of the month,” and to hide what I was going through, learning to love my period was difficult but important.
Now when I know my cycle is coming, I meditate more, and I give myself more grace. If I need to sleep for ten hours, I get to bed early. I try to drink more tea, and I always have chocolate in my cabinet. If I need to let out my emotions, I let them out however I feel works at that time, be it writing, watching comedy specials on Netflix, or even listening to my playlist full of songs guaranteed to make me cry. This time for me is a built-in catharsis every month.
Learning to love your period isn’t easy, and it won’t come naturally to everyone right away. We’re socialized to keep this very natural part of ourselves hidden because it’s dirty, or wrong. But that idea is wrong. Your cycle is one of the most natural things that you can go through. It can be a beautiful time to reflect, relax, and regenerate, so at the end, we can dive back into our lives headfirst.