Mindfulness is a major buzzword right now, and for good reason: there’s tons of evidence to suggest that slowing down and being more thoughtful yields huge benefits for our mental and physical health. Simply taking the time to disconnect from all the buzzing and chirping of our technology-packed lives can lower stress, aid concentration, and improve sleep.
But even if you’ve mastered mindfulness on your yoga mat or in a morning meditation, it’s likely you haven’t thought about how it can apply to your period. For most of us, menstruation is an annoyance. It’s messy, painful, expensive, and inconvenient. It makes us bloated, hangry, and irritable, and it has ruined too many pairs of underwear to count.
The mindful menstruation movement aims to change this attitude. By bringing attention to the intricacies of your cycle, and taking a more holistic approach to PMS, mindful menstruation can give you a new appreciation for and ability to weather every aspect of your period.
Sound good? We thought so. Read on for four ways to bring mindfulness to your menstruation.
- Try a period tracking app. Simply becoming more aware of the symptoms and side-effects of your period can make you more able to handle them as they come. If you wake up one morning and suddenly decide everyone around you is a gob-headed mouthbreather on a mission to destroy your sense of self-worth, it can be nice to check that app and realize, Oh, that’s PMS.
- Take more showers and baths. Your period occurs when your uterus cleans itself out and sheds its lining. Encourage that process by taking lots of long, warm baths, and experiment with salts or scented oils. Let your body know that you’re listening to it, and helping it do its job. Bonus: warm baths can also help you sleep better and ease cramping.
- Listen to your body. Women have been taught to try and annihilate the effects of our periods by dosing up on medication. Painkillers can be a real gift when work or family demands attention, but when possible, try giving into your feelings (physical and mental). Maybe that's an extra hour of sleep, a large bowl of ice cream, a cuddle with a book and a hot water bottle. If you’re feeling bloated, wear your flowiest dress and drink extra water. A gentle, seated yoga twist can also encourage your uterus to keep moving things along. Embracing rather than resisting your symptoms can help you feel less anxious — and less in pain.
- Use alternative products. Many traditional period products are designed to stop your flow in any way possible. These are not only expensive and uncomfortable, they also use additives like bleach and synthetic fragrances that you likely don’t want up against your most delicate parts. Plus, they create a ton of waste, lingering in landfills for decades. To stop the cycle, try alternative products that are better for your body and for the environment, like sea sponges or reusable menstrual cups. We’ll also plug our leakproof underwear: wear them on their own on light flow days, or as back up for a heavy flow in place of a panty liner. They absorb two tampons worth of blood to keep you dry, employ a natural carbon gusset that destroys odor, and can be machine washed and worn again and again to eliminate waste. Plus, they are way sleeker and thinner than traditional pads, so you don’t feel like you’re walking around in a diaper (the shame!).