Cramps, bloating and chocolate cravings? It can only mean one thing- it’s that time of the month again.
Many of us may recognise the signals when we’re about to ‘come on,’ but there’s one side effect of our period that a painkiller, a Netflix binge or a chocolate bar won’t fix – our self-esteem.
In her book Moody Bitches, psychiatrist Dr. Julie Holland puts more of the blame on the drop in estrogen. “Lower estrogen levels cause serotonin levels to drop precipitously a few days before menstruation, which may be the basis of many PMS symptoms. Low levels of serotonin are implicated in depression, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. You’re even more physically sensitive to pain than usual, and more emotionally sensitive to criticism. You’re less resilient in the face of stresses and feel sadder, hungrier, and more scared, tearful, and angsty.”
It’s no surprise that our periods rip up our self-esteem. I sense that I’m due on my period when I feel like crying for no reason, get easily irritated or feel a general dissatisfaction with myself. Before the cramping and feeling like I can eat everything under the sun, I look in the mirror, and I’ll feel un-attractive and chubby. In the past, I’d criticise myself and allow my period to take me to a dark place, but now I am more conscious of the impact my hormones can have on my state.
I may not be at a stage where I dance around a fire and openly worship my divine feminine energy, but I do acknowledge how blessed I am to have a healthy body and honour the sacred ability to at some point in my life if I choose to – give birth.
When we’re staring at our reflection in the mirror, and we look heavier, we’re breaking out in spots, and we’re bleeding for up to 7 days straight – it’s not exactly going to make us feel great about ourselves, but there are things we can do to stop ourselves from spiralling into a hotbed of negativity.
1 – Keep track of your period. There are various apps like Flo & Period Diary which allow you to quickly log your cycles and send you notifications when you’re due. Having a heads-up can help you to prepare yourself mentally. You could use the time to schedule yourself a break and avoid making any stressful plans or write some positive affirmations or quotes on Post It’s and stick them on your mirror.
2- Pay attention to your judgmental thoughts. Because of lower serotonin levels, we’re more ‘raw’ and less emotionally guarded before we menstruate. It can be a valuable opportunity to acknowledge your thought patterns and get a deeper sense of self-awareness. Journal your thoughts and review them again when you’re off your period to see if they still resonate with you.
3 – Take a salt bath. I’m all about taking salt baths at least once a week to clear away negative energies and being on your period is the perfect excuse to have a long soak in the tub. Not only will using sea salt (my preference is Himalayan pink salt) release dark energies from your aura, it also releases toxins and relieves aches and pains so you can go back to feeling better about yourself.
4- Get moving. Doing some physical activity will help you to alleviate any painful symptoms and steer your thoughts in a healthier direction. Maybe it’s going for a run, taking a long walk or doing some light yoga poses. Taking the time to get active in some way will help you to feel better about your body.
When your time of the month strikes, don’t allow your symptoms to ruin your self-esteem. Instead, follow the tips above and be kind to yourself and your body.