There is powerful wisdom in the menstrual period. It is not just a week of bleeding, a week of maxi pads and Diva Cups and pelvic cramps. It is a time of great insight and renewal, reflection and intuition. We have access to the deeper parts of our subconscious and much more of our inner truth during this time. Menstrual messages are the body’s wisdom coming forth.
Our menstrual cycles are intimately tied to the moon and the lunar phases. Just as the moon goes through a period of darkness each month with the new moon, so do our womanly bodies. The ebb and flow of our energies throughout the month is natural and beautiful, innate and wise beyond our wildest imaginations.
Renowned astrologer Demetra George states that during the dark of the moon, this is where “life cleanses, revitalizes, and transforms itself in its evolutionary development, spiraling toward attunement with its essential nature.”
How beautiful is that? This actually brings tears to my eyes writing these words (probably because I’m on my period right now, lol). But truly, that quote and the meaning behind it touches me so deeply and makes me feel so unbelievably blessed to have this monthly experience that gives me so much insight into myself. It makes me value myself in ways I never knew how until I began appreciating my period.
MY PERIOD HAS SHOWN ME HOW TO LOVE MYSELF UNCONDITIONALLY AND VALUE MYSELF ON A DEEPER LEVEL. THIS IS THE MAGIC OF THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE.
Our periods are meant for slowing down, for turning inward, for reflection, for dreaming, for honoring what’s coming up for us physically as well as emotionally, and for connecting to the most basic and powerful cycle that is bestowed upon us as women.
When we show respect for our bodies in this way, they respond to us with comfort and ease. Our period weeks can go from being ones of painful cramps, menstrual migraines, horrendous mood swings and insane lethargy to gentle pelvic fluttering, cozy sleepiness, and emotional releasing.
So many women suffer through their periods. They dread this time of the month. But it does not have to be this way.
It is not the curse of being a woman. Not even close.
ITS A GIFT. ITS THE GIFT OF LIFE. OF CREATION. OF RENEWAL. OF ANCIENT WISDOM. OF THE DIVINE FEMININE.
How do we take back our periods? How do we reclaim the magic found within the darkness of the menstrual cycle? How do we look forward to this week of bleeding rather than disowning it?
We nurture ourselves.
We mother ourselves.
We prioritize our bodies and tune into our deepest needs.
I did not fully appreciate my period and everything it was gifting me each month until my late 20s. I was medicated on various forms of birth control for about 9 years, and very much viewed my period as a liability rather than a superpower. It was an annoyance, it was messy, it got in my way, and it slowed me down.
It wasn’t until I received the diagnosis of PCOS and embarked on my healing journey to take care of this condition naturally, without medications or further birth control use, that I fully came to understand the power of the menstrual cycle and appreciate it for all its beauty.
How I Nourish Myself During My Period
I enjoy a homemade herbal concoction of minced ginger, cinnamon, nettles, and red raspberry leaf during days 1 and 2. This blend of herbs is warming and increases circulation and always alleviates my cramps. A touch of honey makes it absolutely divine.
Full submersion in water is comforting and wildly restorative. The heat increases circulation and is like a full body hot water bottle haha. A cup of Epsom salts helps with drawing out toxicity as well as providing magnesium, and magnesium is a relaxing mineral that helps alleviate uncomfortable menstrual cramps. I like my baths as hot as the water will go.
Lots of rest
My bed and my couch get a lot of action during my bleed week. It is not uncommon for me to sleep 9+ hours during my menstrual cycle. I used to feel lazy and sluggish and guilty for needing so much rest. But I now realize that it was my bodily wisdom asking me to slow down more. No more guilt. In fact, when I honor my increased need for rest, I find that I am way more productive and energized during the other phases of my cycle.
Naps feel really good to me during days 1 and 2 of my period, when bleeding is the most intense and physical energy is at its lowest. Again, there used to be a lot of guilt around needing so much rest. Little power naps here and there are often exactly what I need during these long first days. I like putting on some spa music or Vivaldi and drifting off to these.
I'm the type of reader who has about 20 different books going at any given time (#squirrel #shinyobjectsyndrome). During my period, I go to what is calling me, and sometimes that's a re-read of Harry Potter for the 47,237th time. It's all about comfort and soul nourishment during this week, amiright?!
My menstrual meditations are so insightful and revealing. I find that 20-30 minutes of Tibetan singing bowl sounds or healing frequencies feel the best to me during my period. Other times of the month, I enjoy a guided meditation. I love how effortless the stillness comes to me during this time. My mind settles right into the cushion of the music, my body relaxes, and the metronome of my heart takes me deep into my subconscious where my truth and my deepest desires live.
My journal is always close by during my period. Menstruation is all about releasing, going inward, and having great access to that which lives in our subconscious minds. I do lots of writing during this week, sometimes its so wander-y and disconnected, and its only after I get the words and thoughts out on the paper that I can make sense of it. I almost always gain deeper awareness of what my heart wants and where I need to shift my focus to in the upcoming month. I also write down my dreams first thing in the morning. Menstrual dreams carry deep wisdom.
Gentle walk in nature
I don't worry about working out during my period anymore. If I do any sort of exercise, it's walking in a beautiful park close to my house with big redwoods and a stream flowing through it. Nature restores my soul, the fresh oxygen feels good in my lungs, and the sunshine on my face helps elevate my mood. Beyond the walks (and the occasional yin yoga class), I don't worry about exercising during my bleed week.
Qi Gong is the practice of combining breath with movement and cultivating vital life force energy that is present in us and around us at all times. It's a wonderful way to activate the body and the vibrational element of our beings and really be present in our body. It's not strenuous, is wildly restoring, and is one of my favorite ways to re-center myself during my period.
Castor oil packs
Castor oil is an ages old remedy that is powerfully anti-inflammatory, enhances the immune system, provides antioxidant support, facilitates transition from sympathetic (fight or flight) into parasympathetic (rest and digest), provides a feel good dopamine surge, and breaks up biofilms inside the body. I use the Queen Of The Thrones Castor Oil and her beautifully made sherpa flannel from days 1-5 of my period. They are wonderful for alleviating cramps.
Rescheduling social events
Most women have very little energy during the early days of our periods. This is because hormonally, everything is low: estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, FSH and LH. If I have parties, lunches, hikes, or networking events, I cancel them and reschedule for my follicular or ovulatory phases. I used to have a lot of guilt around this as well, shameless people pleaser that I am (was!). Guilt seems like a recurring theme here huh? Well, I no longer feel guilty for honoring my body's needs. There will always be another day to do lunch with a friend.
Clary Sage is my favorite essential oil for menstrual discomfort. I diffuse it, I apply it topically to my abdomen, and I use a couple drops in my nightly bath. It's soothing, relaxing, earthy, grounding, and I find that it definitely helps to ease my menstrual cramps. I also love the proprietary blend Clary Calm by doTERRA. I apply this directly to my abdomen a couple times a day.
Heat increases circulation, and blood flow is a good thing during your period. We want our blood to flow out, and one of the ways to facilitate that is with hot soups/hot stews. In fact, I don't even drink cold or even room temperature water during my period. It's always warm to hot, and in all reality, its more like hot herbal teas. Heat helps the blood to flow out so that we don't have any left over uterine lining for the next month.
Hot water bottles
Again with the heat! Another theme! For days 1 and 2 of my period, you can find me resting on the couch with Harry Potter, a mug of herbal tea, my journal, a diffuser with 3 drops of Clary Sage, a comforter, a castor oil pack on my abdomen, and a hot water bottle right on top haha. Heat applied to the lower abdomen is just marvelous during your period.
Your period is a release. A shedding of the uterine lining. A new beginning for the coming month. I have my best cries during my period, when my body is physically releasing, and evidently when my emotions wish to be released as well. Our tears are yet another way our bodies cleanse. If I'm ever having a challenging period (that's rare nowadays) where I'm feeling particularly bogged down or emotionally stuck, a good cry always helps.
Taking a personal day (or 2)
Call out of work next time you get your period. Just do it. Even if it's just for day 1 (bonus points if you take 2 days!). Allow yourself to recluse in your house, cocoon, rest, disconnect from the outside world and spend this sacred time in your inside world. It will make so much difference in your quality of life that you will wonder why you didn't do this the whole time.
Allowing myself to be cared for
As a natural care giver (Libra, 7w6, people pleaser and RN x12 years), it's in my nature to care for others rather than be cared for. Now, I say yes when my husband asks me if there is anything he can do for me. I say yes to Instacart or the extra favor that a friend owes me. It's not selfish, it's not grandiose. It's a basic need, to be cared for. And on top of all that, I know that the people in my life offering to care for me WANT to. I'm not a burden. I'm not being annoying. I'm allowing myself to receive that which I so freely give.
This may sound a little crazy to the gal who is may be a little more like the me from my pre PCOS days, but I say this with every ounce of truth in my heart: I truly look forward to my periods and enjoy the cozy, sleepy, cocooning time they bring me. It is the most wonderfully restoring experience, to lean into this time and view it as a monthly gift. It is something I never skimp on anymore. I honor it, and it honors me right back. It’s a partnership. And it has come to be one of the most cherished partnerships in my life: the one I have with my gorgeous, elegant, divine female body.
A sample day of what I do on my period looks like this:
Wake up without the alarm
Record my dream(s) and do a morning gratitude list
Tongue scrape & brush my teeth
Tall glass of warm lemon water
Hot ginger/nettle/red raspberry leaf/cinnamon tea
Bowl of hot soup for breakfast
Journal about anything that came to me during meditation
Get out for a gentle walk
Lunch of an eggplant, shitake mushroom, and steamed broccoli stir fry
Afternoon Qi Gong
Read/watch a show
Stew with veggies and beef for dinner
Hot bath with Epsom salts, clary sage essential oil, candles, and my book
Castor oil pack applied to my lower abdomen to wear to bed
Evening journal to reflect, write down anything that came up for me, and express my gratitude for the day
Early to bed for 8-9 hours of sleep
The last 2 years prior to leaving my hospital nursing job, I would call in sick on day 1 or 2 of my period in order to have a day like the one I just described above. I felt a lot of guilt when I started doing this at first, because I’m someone who actually gets physically sick when I call in “sick” and I’m not really sick, and I was literally a nurse for 3 years before I called in sick for the first time haha.
But once I started taking care of myself, once I started to set boundaries around my health and my work, and once I started unapologetically listening to my body and honoring its needs, the guilt melted away. I started to realize that in order for me to care for my patients competently, compassionately, and with my whole heart, I had to first start with me. How could I take the absolute best care of my patients if I wasn’t at the very least taking amazing care of myself? This was the piece that was missing in my career, a crucial piece that I realize largely contributed to my hormonal imbalances, severe adrenal fatigue, and the quality of my overall health.
This is not a widely accepted precedent in many nurses’ worlds. And so many nurses still burn the candle at both ends, ignoring their own needs in favor of staffing, unit ratios, bosses, colleagues, bonus pay, etc. What a paradox – killing ourselves in favor of overtime and swing shifts in order to … care for others?
After I started to prioritize myself during my period, my physical body felt worlds better, and my attitude toward my nursing job and allll the nuances that come with being a nurse in an insanely busy ICU where emergencies and death are very much part of the daily experience – everything started to become much more manageable. My anxiety about going into work was less. My happiness in being there grew. My capacity to take care of my patients and families well was heightened. I was a better colleague.
I realize that calling out of work in order to prioritize your period needs is not always in the cards. And I didn’t do this every single period. Sometimes I would get lucky and day 1 would fall on a stretch of 3 days off in a row. But it was something that started working very well for me, and my body responded in kind by feeling better physically, by having better periods, by taming my emotional state, by making my experience in life as a cycling woman just … better!
Now that I am no longer nursing, I get to cocoon during my period every single time, and it is absolutely glorious! The day that I described above – that is typical of the first 2 days of my periods now. I cancel plans, I rearrange lunch dates, I rain check and push back things on my to do list. I don’t have anyone in my life who minds this. And if there were any who did, they probably wouldn’t be around for very long, haha. It is not indulgent to take an entire day (during your greatest time of need during your month) to nurture yourself in the ways that feel best to you. The fact that I had so much guilt around this notion is a testament to how deep our cultural conditioning goes. It is not an indulgence. It is a necessity.
How you nourish yourself during your period sets you up for feeling wonderful in your body all month long.
Your period week can be one where you emerge feeling icky, frustrated, annoyed, unsatisfied, and going through the motions.
Or it can revitalize you and transform your life. It can replenish you for the upcoming month and give you access to your wild creativity, your life force energy, your divine sexuality, the beautiful inner workings of your brilliant mind, and that inner wisdom that is your truth … that inner knowing that is always whispering to you, that is always asking to be noticed, that is always available to you when you get quiet and go inward.
And that is precisely what your period is for: going inward.
I encourage you to do this the next time your period comes. You may just fall in love with what you find inside.
How do you nourish yourself during your period?
Which of the above suggestions are you going to try next time?
Tell me below!
Yours In Abundant Health,