Men(s)t(ru)al Health: Caring For Your Mental Health During Your Period

With shorter days, colder nights, and a global pandemic looming over our heads, there are a few reasons you might be feeling mentally ‘off’ right now, and so it’s important to nurture your mind and body. Even without external factors, PMS can sometimes feel like it’s taking over your life, which can be complicated – physically and mentally. We’ve come up with a few tips on how to take care of your mental health during your period.

Breathing exercises for PMS

We breathe in and out without thought every single day but taking time to breathe slowly and deeply could be a game changer. Did you know that deep breathing is one of our easiest and most natural ways to combat stress and anxiety, increase calm, and reduce pain? Exactly what you need when PMS feels like too much to handle.

In the morning or before bed, take a few minutes to sit comfortably, or lie down. Relax your shoulders and put one hand on your chest, and one on your stomach. Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds and feel your stomach expand. Press gently on your stomach and exhale slowly through your nose. Try to do this for 5 minutes a day, and gradually increase to 10 minutes.

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Light exercise on your period

It’s been proven that exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on your mental health, as well as your period symptoms. But sometimes it’s the last thing you want to do during your period, and that’s okay.

If you’re up for it, there are still many benefits to moving your body in some shape or form that isn’t a gruelling HIIT workout or a 5K run. The answer is keep it light, short, and fun. This could be dancing to your favourite playlist, going for a walk around the block, or even rearranging your room. Check out our top 5 exercises to do whilst menstruating for more advice!

Get comfortable

If you really don’t feel like moving your body on some days, get in your comfiest clothes and dedicate some time to you in another way. If this looks like wrapping yourself in a blanket (human burrito style) and binge-watching Netflix, then so be it! Other days you might want to put on your softest PJ’s and just read a book. If the tub is where you usually unwind, you can still have a bath on your period. Whatever it is, dedicating an hour or so to something that relaxes your mind and body will help you gain some headspace away from work or outside stress, helping you to stay out of a PMS slump.

Get creative

Creativity is a great way to elevate your mood. Dedicating some time to creating something can help focus your mind away from the negative effects of your period (like pain and fatigue) and instead help to release dopamine in the brain.

If you’ve seen our post about why your menstrual cycle is like the seasons, you’ll know you might feel your most creative towards the end of your period, right before the Spring (follicular) phase, so plan some activities around this time. Remember, you’re not aiming to be the next Bob Ross, it’s about enjoying the process and refocusing your energy into something that differs from your daily life. Here’s a list of a few creative activities to try:

  • Mindful colouring
  • Upcycling old clothes
  • Learning how to crochet/knit
  • Create some DIY skincare products
  • Draw with oil pastels
  • Marble painting
  • Gardening or potting plants
  • Make collages out of old magazines
  • Create motivational quote posters
  • Decorate biscuits
  • Write a poem or short story
  • Take pictures with a disposable camera

Relax and listen

During your period, there may be times where you’re feeling quite antisocial, but still crave the feeling of people around you. Listening to audiobooks or podcasts is an easy way to make you feel part of a thought-provoking conversation – all from the comfort of your own sofa or bed. Podcasts might not compare to chatting to a friend, but listening to others talk authentically about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences can be a helpful form of mental healing.

Reach out to someone

If you’re feeling particularly low during your period and it’s impacting your ability to function in your everyday life, dedicate time to talk to loved ones or a professional – especially during the pandemic. Severe feelings of PMS could be a sign of PMDD and may require additional professional attention. Other times, a short conversation with a friend or family member is all it takes to help you feel safer and happier.

Actively taking care of and checking in with your mind and body is vital for your mental health during your cycle. It can help you understand your regular period symptoms and ensure you deal with them effectively. Keep on top of how you feel by using a period tracker or a journal – because being aware of patterns is the first step to healing.

If you have more serious concerns about your mental health, always seek out professional help and advice.

Are you a comfort and chill seeker on your period? Do you prefer a boogie or light exercise? Let us know in the comments below the ways you take care of your mental health during your period.

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