Cyclical Self-Care: 11 Tips on How to Make the Most of Your Period

by Eleanor Hadley

‘Self-Care’ is a hot topic at the moment. You’ll find articles sprinkled all over the internet, in magazines, blog posts and Instagram feeds about the importance of self-care and taking time out for yourself. Sure, it may be a bit of a buzzword right now – but how great is that? That the collective consciousness is realizing how important it is to care for one’s self and actively encouraging people to stop, meditate, relax, reflect.

Personally, I’m thrilled by this movement. Being spiritually minded and having studied various forms of healing modalities from yoga to crystal healing, the art of self-care comes naturally to me now. The term self-care has become somewhat synonymous with “facials and mani-pedis” as of late.

However, I’d like to offer a way to take your self-care routine to the next level. A way to incorporate self-care into your life each and every month, no matter what. Introducing Cyclic Self-Care what do I mean by this?

Well, I’m referring to us, women, and our cycles. Yes, I’m about to talk all about periods.

Before we dive deeper, I want to preface this with the assertion that periods are not shameful or something to be kept secret. They are one of the most natural parts of being a woman, half the world bleeds each month. None of us would exist if women didn’t ovulate and menstruate on the monthly. Let’s stop being shy about it. As women, every month our bodies call us to stop, rest and reset. It’s called menstruation.

Unfortunately though, living in the male-dominated, linear, outward-focused, consistent, results-driven world that we do, it’s hard to be hard to allow ourselves to take a break for fear of seeming lazy, unproductive or selfish. The problem is – we’re cyclical by nature. We aren’t born to be linear like men are. Our bodies quite literally cycle through four phases each and every month (and yes, even if you don’t menstruate due to hormones, health reasons or have reached menopause, you are still cyclical).

To expect women to operate just the same way as men do is completely ignorant to the wisdom of our bodies. Don’t get me wrong, I believe women can do and achieve all the same things men can – but it’s a matter of how. For women to operate in the same straightforward, laser-focused, linear fashion is to deny us the opportunity to tap into our innate feminine powers like vulnerability, intuition, compassion, empathy. All of which are incredibly powerful tools for success in career, relationships, family… life.

But, I digress. I will happily discuss more about the power of our periods in a future piece. For now – let’s talk about honoring our Moon Time, Period, Menstruation, Aunt Flo, ‘That Time Of The Month’ or whatever you like to call it – and making it a monthly, non-negotiable Self-Care date. Each time we get our period, our bodies are asking us to slow down. There is so much happening to your body at this time that to expect it to continue functioning at its full capacity is essentially begging for burnout.

This is the perfect time to allow yourself to embrace self-care. Below I’ve compiled my favorite ways to spend the first day of my period honoring and caring for myself and my body. Allowing your body to take a break when it is asking for one will set you up to kick goals throughout the rest of the month with a renewed energy.

If your work doesn’t allow you to take the whole day off, please still allow yourself this time in the evening or sprinkled throughout the day. I aim to live as clean as possible and prefer not to take standard painkillers so I’ve also included plenty of tips on how to handle the pain naturally. Take what resonates to you and leave the rest.

Your Monthly Self-Care Date, the essentials:

Cloud-Bed

We all know the feeling of just wanting to stay in bed all day when our period hits, so make it worthwhile. I refer to my bed as a Cloud-Bed because it is so comfy and it’s also piled to the hilt with fluffy cushions. Make your bed the comfiest, most luxurious place you can be during this time, with everything you need close by. Clean sheets, plenty of blankets and lots of pillows.

Tinctures

I’m a big believer in the power of natural medicine and prefer to take herbs instead of pharmaceuticals where possible. Call me a modern-day hippy, but my body loves it! In the days leading up to my period and during I like to take a mixture of herbs including vitex, dandelion root, burdock, sarsaparilla, nettle, skullcap, vanilla, rose, licorice, star anise, and cinnamon. You can find these at your local herbal dispensary where a naturopath can make a mix for you, or better yet a custom mix to help you with your specific period related concerns. I take the above mix in a tea, but you can also just shot it if you can handle the taste. *Chat to your herbalist about your body before taking anything suggested here.

Essential Oils

For some targeted relief while I’m cramping I love using essential oils directly on to my belly and back. Dilute pure essential oils (it’s important they are high grade, pure 100% essential oils if you’re putting them on your skin) in some coconut or almond oil and rub on to your tummy or back or wherever you’re experiencing pain. The best ones for women are clary sage, lavender, bergamot, Roman chamomile, ylang-ylang, cedarwood, geranium, and fennel. These same oils are perfect for diffusing using an oil diffuser in your room during your Cyclic Self-Care day.

Hot Water Bottles and Wheat Packs

An old favorite to relieve cramps and I’m sure you already have one. Perfect for curling up within your cloud-bed.

Journaling

During this time our senses are heightened and our intuition and inner knowing are on point. You’ll often find you are incredibly inspired and have floods of brilliant ideas. This is not the time to act upon any of them, but it is a great time to journal and write down everything that is coming into your mind. Your dreams will be more vivid too, so journal about them and look for themes or insights. It’s a nice time to stop and check in with your emotional self and reflect on how you’re doing right now. Take the time to write out your feelings.

Oracle Cards

Take some time to get some guidance or some positive affirmations by pulling some cards from an oracle deck or a tarot deck. As I said earlier, your intuition is heightened right now, so make use of it. My favorites are The Wild Unknown Tarot deck, Sensual Seed and the Goddess Guidance oracle deck.

Meditation

Meditation is my ultimate self-care practice, it’s a daily must for me and it has honestly transformed my life. If you’re new to meditating, try a guided visualization, a meditation or a juicy Yoga Nidra (20 minutes is equal to 4 hours of sleep!). Try the Insight Timer app for a huge range of guided meditations that you can do from your cloud bed.

Cacao

Maybe it’s a cliche, but chocolate and your period go together like bread and butter. Our bodies are set up to crave chocolate before and during our periods due to a shift in hormones. Basically, your body is craving serotonin and endorphins to battle the sadness and anxiety often associated with this time. Raw Cacao boosts the body’s natural production of serotonin, increasing your mood and ability to fend off stress. PEA (phenylethylamine) aka the love molecule is a neurotransmitter produced naturally in the body when we fall in love and is contained in high amounts in raw Cacao. Indulge in the chocolatey goodness!

Books

If you’re anything like me, you intend to read regularly but your to-do list tends to take precedence. Find a lovely, uplifting book and spend your day (or evening) getting lost in a good story, it feels really luxurious to give yourself time to read.

Underwear

Everyone has a few pairs of old granny undies they wear each month, right? Try replacing them with some fresh pairs that aren’t quite so daggy. I love using Thinx or Modi Body period undies so I don’t have to worry about leaks – plus these are a great alternative to disposable products.

Netflix

I’ve never been one to watch TV in bed but during my cyclical self-care day, I’ll allow it! There’s nothing like bingeing on a good series from your cloud bed, snuggled up with tea and hot water bottles.

These are just a few things that you might like to indulge in on your forced Self-Care date each month. Regardless what your day or evening looks like, be sure to stop and honor your period each month. It’s your body’s way of recharging to allow you to make the most of your energy for the rest of the month. Try it and see how it transforms your energy levels, your mood, and overall wellbeing.

Eleanor Hadley

about the author

Eleanor Hadley

Eleanor Hadley is the founder of Sensual Yoga, a movement practice inspired by traditional yoga, dance, and exotic feminine movement.
Sensual Yoga is the culmination of her decade of work across pole dancing, fitness, feminine movement, yoga, and spiritual healing, with the aim of empowering women everywhere to deeply connect with their bodies.

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