Self isolating is tough and not being able to socialise with or physically comfort loved ones can make it even harder. It can even lead to – or exacerbate – a number of mental health issues including anxiety and depression, so you’re really not alone if you’re struggling at this time. Throw in having a period during lockdown? You’re bound to feel even more disorientated due to the hormone changes your body is going through on top of stress.
During your menstrual cycle, the reproductive hormones in your body fluctuate hugely. Those of who experience PMS symptoms will feel the effects of oestrogen dropping after ovulation. At this time, serotonin levels can also fall – serotonin is often called the “happy chemical” as research has shown that serotonin contributes towards wellbeing and happiness. (Note that this doesn’t necessarily happin in all people who experience periods, but it is common for serotonin levels to fall in the luteal phase of the mesntrual cycle).
Not to mention that adding the current pandemic into the mix means your cortisol levels (the stress hormone) are probably all over the place. You cannot underestimate the effects of the current climate on your hormones at this time. Check out this article for more of an explanation as to how stress and other external factors can throw your cycle out of whack. So what can you do to make your period less painful, in every sense?
Food is your friend
You’re going to want to stock up on food groups that contain tryptophan, which is an amino acid that is vital for the production of serotonin in the body. That includes:
Nuts and Seeds
If you are not vegan you can also get tryptophan from these foods:
Poultry such as turkey or chicken
You’ll be pleased to know that carbs can be your best friend. Most of the serotonin in your body is made in the gut and a small amount is made in the brain, but tryptophan needs carbs to be able to reach the brain in order to create serotonin. My top tip here would be to treat yourself to a jacket potato, white or sweet! And of course hydrate – drink lots of water.
During your period, be mindful of how your thoughts affect your mood and how anxiety is affecting you. Take control by starting your day with positive affirmations to set the tone for your day. They can be personal such as “I am strong and will make it through the day” or general such as “today is going to be a great day”. With everything that is going on right now, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the news, so take action and fill your mind with positivity. Write some of the affirmations on post-it-notes around your house and say them out loud.
You have more time at home now so why not put together playlists of songs that make you feel good? Make a morning playlist when you’re starting your day, a playlist to get you through the day, and one to ease you into sleep.
If you’re struggling to keep your energy levels up or your moods balanced, remember that CBD has always got your back in this area. yours, hormonally is a 10ml bottle of happiness that you can use cycle-round if you suffer from moods and other symptoms of imbalanced hormones (such as acne, bloating, and fatigue).
Light exercise might not sound like something you want to do during your time of the month – but it is something you’ll thank yourself for after doing it! And it doesn’t have to be strenuous. As UK lockdown rules allow for one daily exercise, a walk or light jog with your new playlist will ensure you’re getting a change of scenery and a breath of fresh air. Exercise is linked with boosting your mood so it’s a win win. If you’d like to try some easy to follow home workouts follow me on Instagram @HerRoyalThighness and check out my “Fitness” highlight.
Period pain stretches
The first period I experienced during lockdown was terrible and noticeably different to be quite honest. I wasn’t aware that lacking a change of scenery would both physically and mentally affect me as much as it did. I felt groggy constantly and didn’t prepare myself properly. It’s easy to let things slip if you are focused on other areas of your life that have been affected by our current lockdown. Ahead of my next period during lockdown I made sure to get what I needed during my essential shop. The best combination for me has been a brisk walk or light jog with music followed by a stretch indoors with my “chill music” playlist. There are 3 stretches that are my go-to stretches during my period. I hold them each for the length of an average song (taking a quick 10 second break if needed), and onto the next stretch.
Bound Angle Pose: This stretch can help relax your digestive system and ease cramps. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched in front and take deep breaths in and out. Slowly bend your knees and bring your heels towards your pelvis (pictured) and slowly drop your knees to either side of your body whilst keeping the soles of your feet together.
Child’s Pose: I did a poll on my IG story not long ago to find out if other women got shooting pains up their bum during their period and I wasn’t alone in this! Child’s Pose personally helps me ease cramps – especially those uninvited bum pains! Take deep breaths in this position.
Lying Spinal Twist: Lay on your back on a comfortable surface, preferably a yoga mat or carpeted floor. Bring one knee to your chest and gently rotate it towards the other side of your body (pictured), with your arms stretched either side in a T formation. It helps to really breathe deep in this position. I find that when you have cramps and feel like your entire torso is knotted up, this helps to alleviate the tension.