What would life be like if you didn’t dread your period? If you embraced your menstrual cycle and learned to live with your natural flow? More and more, women are embracing the concept of mindful menstruation and learning to live in alignment with their bodies. Here’s how to get started.
The Basics of Menstruation
Contrary to popular belief, “menstruation” doesn’t just mean your period. It’s actually part of a longer, 28-day cycle of hormone and physical changes within your body. That means, if you’re someone who menstruates, you live in your menstrual cycle constantly until you reach menopause. Like, every day. So why aren’t we talking about it?!
The History of Menstruation
Throughout history, different cultures usually placed menstruation in one of two camps: something to celebrate or something to scorn. Since the rise of colonization, mankind has leaned towards the latter.
Even today, some cultures expect women to remove themselves from their home during their periods, and they are considered “untouchable” until they stop bleeding. It wasn’t until fairly recently in history that the western world accepted menstruation as a natural biological process instead of punishment for the “original sin” (seriously).
In more recent years, women around the world have started embracing and thinking more intentionally about their periods. We opt for natural products, research different birth control methods, and talk about menstruation openly (something our ancestors couldn’t even dream of). And with the rise of the modern wellness movement has come a rise in mindful menstruation.
What Is Mindful Menstruation?
When I had my very first period, my mom whisked me away to the bathroom, handed me a box of pads, and told me to read the directions on the package. Unfortunately, most women today have similar experiences. We aren’t taught how to nurture our bodies during our periods, manage our changing hormones, or take control of our bodies.
Nowadays, there’s a movement in the wellness world towards mindful menstruation, the practice of thinking and acting intentionally in regards to your menstrual cycle. It means asking the important questions, like why we use the products we do and why our periods cause us shame. And most importantly, it inspires more conversation and connection about this experience we all go through for the majority of our lives.
Benefits of Mindful Menstruation
- Fewer symptoms. When you live in alignment with your menstrual cycle, chances are you’ll experience far less bloating and cramping.
- Less shame. Your period is nothing to be ashamed of! The more we talk about menstruation openly, the less shame there is around the topic.
- Greater productivity. When you feel better, you perform better. Mindful menstruation allows you to make choices about how you live and work during your period.
- Improved mental health. Changing hormones can do a number on your mental health. When you learn to balance them, you’ll have fewer mood swings and low points.
How to Embrace Your Period & Practice Mindful Menstruation
If you want to practice mindful menstruation, here’s how to get started.
Track your cycle.
If you want to live in alignment with your body, you have to know what it’s up to! I love the Clue app for tracking my period and cycle because I can log all sorts of symptoms, like bloating, sleep, and even mood. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to track your cycle for a couple months before the app can give you accurate predictions.
If you’d rather do it the old-fashioned way, start a period journal! Track which days you bleed, what kind of flow you’re having, and how you’re feeling throughout the month. This will help you understand what you’re body’s doing and feeling during each of your phases.
Honor and plan for the phases.
Speaking of, try to honor and plan for the different stages of your menstrual cycle, which are…
- The Menstrual Phase, when your uterus is shedding its lining (your period), and your levels of estrogen and progesterone are low.
- The Follicular Phase, when your brain sends signals to start the development of follicles in your ovaries.
- The Ovulatory Phase, when your ovaries release a mature egg.
- The Luteal Phase, also known as PMS.
Each of these phases is accompanied by different moods, hormone levels, and physical changes. If you can learn to adjust your schedule and daily routine according to the phases of your menstrual cycle (also called Cycle Syncing), you’ll feel more in-tune with your body and experience fewer uncomfortable symptoms.
Choose your period products with intention.
If you asked a room full of women why they chose the pad or tampon brand they currently use, the most common answer would be, “It’s the one my mom used.” But if you think about it, we rarely use that reasoning for any of the other products in our daily lives.
Take some time to research the different types of period products on the market, and experiment with the ones that interest you. Here are a few of my favorites that you might not have heard of:
- Menstrual cups. These have become super popular in the past few years. They’re reusable medical-grade silicone cups you wear internally, and you can wear them for up to 12 hours at a time. There’s a bit of a learning curve when it comes to insertion, but there are plenty of resources online to help you get the hang of it!
- Menstrual disks. Like menstrual cups, menstrual disks are worn internally and catch blood instead of absorbing it. But the major upside to disks is that many brands allow you to have mess-free period sex when using them.
- Sponges. Some people use natural sea sponges instead of tampons. Like tampons, they absorb your flow internally, but they’re reusable! Just be aware that they don’t come with any applicators, so you’ll have to get your hands dirty (pun intended).
- Reusable pads. If you’re more of an external wear kind of gal, try reusable pads. They’re made of natural absorbent material (usually cotton) and designed to be washed and re-worn for years.
- Period underwear. Like reusable pads, period underwear are design to be worn, washed, and reworn. But since the underwear themselves are absorbent, you don’t have to worry about your pad slipping around. These are a lifesaver for those with heavy flows and anyone who hates overnight pads.
You might find that you’ve been settling for a product that doesn’t feel great or fit with your lifestyle.
This also applies to birth control methods. You should always consult with your doctor before switching, starting, or stopping birth control, but don’t be afraid to do your own research. Many women find that the hormonal birth control they’ve been taking for years is the root cause of their health issues, like weight gain or depression. Explore your options, and consult a doctor you trust.
Practice regular self care.
For too long, women have been expected to “suck it up” and go on living and working through menstruation, PMS, and even pregnancy. That’s BS! Your body undergoes a total transformation every 28 days, and it deserves tender loving care throughout the process.
Be sure to practice regular self care, especially during your period. Take warm baths and showers to soothe cramps. Get proper rest to ensure your body can heal and recover well. Use meditation, yoga, or journaling to calm your mind when your hormones are imbalanced. Your menstrual cycle is nothing short of an everyday miracle, and you deserve to be gentle on yourself during it.
Talk to your OBGYN.
Irregular or painful periods can be a sign of bigger issues in your body. As you start tracking your cycle, watch for anything concerning, like irregular schedules, skipped periods, or persistent discomfort. Talk to your OBGYN about your cycle, your birth control methods, and the best ways to manage your reproductive health.
Live a life of balance and intention.
These mindfulness practices can be applied to any area of your life–from your health to your relationships and even to your career. And when you live with intention, you’re more fulfilled, less overwhelmed, and more in love with everyday life. Click here to sign up for my FREE webinar on avoiding burnout and creating more intentionality in your life and business.