No matter how many bloody periods we’ve had in our lives, we can still feel totally blindsided or caught off guard when they hit. We bleeders know that our periods have a real knack for timing and a flair for the dramatic, throwing our schedules, sex lives and skin into total disarray. But rather than ‘winging it’ each month, get in sync with your cycle and show your period who’s boss with a bespoke, tailor-made period routine. Having a monthly period routine isn’t just a way of coping; you’ll soon find that you no longer dread your periods, but rather look forward to a few days of slowing down with some radical self-care (if this sounds ludicrous to you right now, we promise it’s possible! We were once non-believers!). We’ve all got a skincare routine, an exercise routine and a morning routine — it’s time to do the same for your period.
Want to nail down a period routine that suits your needs, but don’t know where to start? We’ve got you all the way covered, boo. Keep reading for our step-by-step period routine formula, ready to be copy-pasted into your monthly cycle.
Proper period care starts during the PMS phase of your menstrual cycle, and as such, pre-period care should be the first step in your period routine. For many period-havers, PMS symptoms are even worse than what they experience on their actual period — so taking care of your body in the run-up to your period is vital. At the first sign of mood swings or fatigue, start taking a hormone-balancing supplement (yours hormonally CBD oil to the rescue). If you know you won’t have the energy to do any elaborate meal-planning or other life-admin while you’re bleeding, now’s the time to organise your meals, stock up on supplies and cancel that social event you know you’ll be too tired to go to. The more you do now, the less you’ll have to do when your period starts. Do your future self a favour.
Start the day right
If you’re someone who suffers from heavy or painful periods, you’ll know that that first morning is make-or-break. Your best weapon of defense? Preparation. The night before your period, grab a banana or granola bar, some water and your bottle of yin & tonic, and lay them on your nightstand. This way, when you wake up, you can take your y&t with food straight away — and you don’t have to scramble through your drawers for paracetamol. To make sure you’re not waking up on the Japanese flag, you can also slap on a pair of heavy-absorbency period pants the night before. Start your day with a relaxing mint or ginger tea, and add a few drops of yin & tonic to your water bottle at the first sign of cramps.
Stretch it out
Let’s be real; the idea of working out on your period can feel borderline paradoxical — like painting with a broken wrist. But hear us out: the evidence suggests moving your body on your period can help with bloating, release endorphins and even ease period cramps. If you don’t feel able to get a workout in (we totally get it) then try some slow, nourishing morning yoga instead. If you’re new to yoga, the amount of choice can feel like a minefield. Luckily, YouTube is inundated with some amazing free yoga videos — like this yoga for cramps and PMS routine from quarantine-cult-favourite Yoga with Adriene. Whether you opt for yoga, or stick to a short workout or stretch — building some form of movement into your period routine will go a long way.
Don’t suffer at work
If you’re lucky enough to have your period fall on a weekend or holiday, then ‘lounging around in your sweats’ should absolutely be part of your period routine (unless you’re one of those superhumans who enjoys getting active or working out on their period, in which case: we salute you). But if, like me, you have to dredge off to work whether you’re bleeding or not, then there are a few simple hacks to make the day more bearable. Wack on some heating pads to alleviate period cramps on your commute, and double up your pad, menstrual cup, or tampons with some period underwear to avoid any anxiety about bleeding through onto your office chair. There’s also a good chance that your work will feel even more overwhelming on the first day of your period, so consider investing in an essential oil roll-on with lavender or calming clary sage to de-stress. Honestly though, the best way to make it through the work day when your period arrives? Treat yourself. Buy that fancy matcha latte, indulge in a slice of cake, clock out 10 minutes early. You deserve it.
We’ve all had to create a makeshift pad with toilet paper after leaving the house unprepared. Nightmare scenario. If you do have to be out and about on your period, avoid getting caught out by carrying a period pouch with you at all times. Much like a wash bag or makeup bag, a period pouch means all your bases are covered and you won’t have to keep your tampons/pads loose in your pockets. In my period pouch, I keep painkillers, sanitary towels, my yin & tonic, holy cramp oil, heating pads, an essential oil roll-on and some kind of protein bar when the hangry hits. Mix and match as you see fit; but once you start carrying one around, you’ll never be without it.
Draw a bath
So, you’ve made it through the day so far! If that alone doesn’t warrant a little celebratory self-care, then we don’t know what does. What better way to thank your body for all its hard work than with a warming, relaxing bath? And we’re not talking about any old bath, we mean a bath decked out with candles, bath bombs, a few drops of holy cramp and some magnesium bath salts to relax your muscles. Not only do baths alleviate period cramps, they’re also known to contribute to a peaceful night's sleep — the ultimate win-win. Pro hack: if you’re a pad wearer, wack a fresh pad onto your underwear before your bath. That way, it’ll be ready for you once you step out (+ no mess).
Treat your skin
Hormonal acne is definitely up there as one of the most annoying AF symptoms you can get on your cycle. While PMS-ing, your estrogen and progesterone levels drop — triggering your skin to produce more sebum, which results in clogged pores and breakouts. While hormonal acne is, for the most part, a natural part of your menstrual cycle, it’s still worth adapting your go-to PM skincare routine to keep those vengeful period-pimples under control. Try some mild over the counter products with active ingredients like tea tree oil, salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide — and layer on a breakout-busting face mask. Whatever you do, resist the urge to pick or pop!
Nourish your body
The last thing anyone wants to do during their period is eat healthy. But before you polish off the last of the Easter choccy, bear in mind that some of the foods you crave the most may make your symptoms (like bloating, nausea and fatigue) even worse. While we know it’s easier said than done, try and limit your intake of caffeine, alcohol and sugary foods — and instead amp up your water intake, and stock up on fruits and vegetables that are high essential nutrients like iron, zinc, and magnesium. This isn’t to say that you can’t partake in the odd binge or treat (you know we’re all about treating ourselves) — but even small tweaks to your diet, like swapping milk chocolate for dark, can help you trick your body into getting its nutrients. Your meals don’t need to be fancy, either; think tofu stir fry or pasta loaded with leafy greens. You’ll feel all the better for it.
Staying well-rested on your period is vital — after all, you’ll likely have to repeat the whole shabang tomorrow, so you’ll need all the energy you can get. Naturally, you’re going to want some kind of distraction from all the discomfort you’re feeling — but even putting your phone away until the morning can do wonders when it comes to switching your brain off. If you’re someone who needs white noise to sleep, try swapping out your go-to podcast or TV show for a soothing nature sounds playlist. Turn in early, light a candle, do some mindful journaling and even opt for some CBD oil or chamomile tea for extra help drifting off. Because no one needs their beauty sleep more than you right now, babe.
So there we have it: a 9-step formula for the perfect period care routine. Even if you’re a Professional Winger of Life, now’s the time to be more intentional and give a period routine a go.
Bleed easy, loves!
Words @ Jaye Hannah
Image credit: Plus Minus