The new year will forever usher in a fresh start energy, and we're here for it. It's a welcome opportunity to set new goals and intentions for the months ahead and leave what doesn't serve us behind. One area that's definitely worth auditing this time of year is our menstrual cycle. This month, we encourage you to rethink how you're approaching your period and cycle and find new ways and holistic habits to better take care of your period and PMS.
Need some inspiration? Keep scrolling for five shifts to commit to in 2022 that will help deal with period emotions, cravings, lack of confidence, and low energy and lead to an overall better period experience.
Satisfy Your Period Cravings In A More Nourishing Way
Many of us use the excuse of being on our period to consume all the carbs and sweets as a form of comfort. However, food plays such a big role in how we feel. Even though those foods may give us a momentary mood boost, they're not contributing to our overall well-being.
Instead, here's what we recommend doing: load up on whole foods, fruits, and veggies and avoid overly processed foods. That said, planning is key because you likely won't have the gusto to cook during your period week. Consider meal prepping ahead of time or signing up for a healthy meal delivery service for the week. Do whatever you need to do to make it super easy for you to eat clean.
Furthermore, when you do have cravings, treat yourself to a healthier alternative. For instance, if you're craving something sweet, indulge in a couple of squares of antioxidant-filled dark chocolate over ice cream. Or, instead of a bowl of heavy pasta, have some warm and cozy soup.
Give Yourself Permission To Feel All The Feels
Period emotions are no joke and can often cause wild emotional mood swings for some menstruators. Case in point: On Instagram, we polled Rael followers, and of those who participated, 80% shared they have a breakdown right before their period, and 85% said their periods make them feel like crying.
Why does this happen? You guessed it: hormones. There is a drop in estrogen and progesterone during your period and a decrease in serotonin, aka the happy hormone. In other words, period emotions are simply a chemical thing. Emotions aren't bad. They are normal. So, rather than judge yourself for feeling the way you feel, which often makes you feel worse, honor the emotions. Allow yourself to let it all out and cry if needed.
You can also make lifestyle changes to help manage the PMS mood swings, such as managing stress, getting good sleep, practicing mindful breathing, and eating foods that naturally help increase serotonin, such as salmon, eggs, spinach, and seeds.
It's Okay To Just Do Nothing
Low confidence, self-esteem, and body image are other challenges that menstruators deal with during their period. On social media, 75% of people said they have lower self-esteem during their period, and 70% said they even dress differently during their period. Not to mention your energy is also typically lower during this time, which all contributes to not feeling like your best self, and that's okay.
If possible, allow yourself to do nothing. You're doing a great job by simply existing right now. Let that be enough. Take a mental health day if you're able to and table big tasks, projects, or social events that require to be "on" for after your period when you'll have more energy and confidence. Instead, enjoy some downtime and watch movies, get lost in a good book, work on a puzzle, or do whatever else makes you feel nourished.
You can also use this time to do a "period audit." Get clear on what PMS habits are no longer serving you and what small changes you're committed to making moving forward. Maybe you intuitively know that drinking coffee worsens your PMS, or you've noticed that staying up late binge-watching Netflix is affecting your sleep quality.
Practice Cycle Syncing
Cycle syncing has been a rising period trend. If you're not familiar, cycle syncing is about syncing your lifestyle (diet, exercise, social calendar, productivity, etc.) to your menstrual cycle.
As we go through our menstrual cycle, our hormone levels change, and so do our emotions, energy levels, and cravings. So your body will need different things at different points in your cycle. For example, an intense, high-energy workout may feel good some days, but during your period, your body may need slower, more gentle movement like yin yoga so you can adjust accordingly.
So, how do you cycle sync? By tracking your period and your moods, confidence, energy, and symptoms to better understand your rhythms. Pro tip: Many period tracking apps make this step easy to document and track. The result: You'll feel more connected to what your body needs at different points in your cycle versus resisting it, making for a more effortless experience.
Listen To Your Body And Intuition
Lastly, understanding how to be more in tune with your body takes time and practice, so be gentle with yourself. Remember that above all else, your body is the greatest messenger. It knows what it needs and has a genius way of communicating those needs to you through symptoms, cravings, and emotions. Those things are simply your body's way of telling you it needs something, whether that means a different diet, less stress, downtime, or something else. Listen to and trust those messages and give your body what it needs.