10 Period Tips That Will Make Your Life Easier

Periods. Many people have them even though, pretty much all of the time, we wish we didn't. Some start them young and others don't get their first period until later on, whilst many get their first period between ages 12-14, all of which are totally normal! A menstrual cycle is typically 28 days, meaning a period will happen about once every month and can last 3-5 days or longer.
Periods aren't often pleasant as they come with feelings of being bloated or heavy, stomach cramps, more acne than usual, mood changes, tiredness, tender breasts and greasy hair. Having to manage a period each month can be physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting and, due to periods still being such a taboo topic of conversation, it can be difficult to find out how to make your periods easier. It usually means a lot of browsing various different websites and scrolling endlessly through social media, hoping to find some tips, any tips, on how to get through the week without biting someone's head off or dying from pain.

Well, allow me to help. Below is a list of 10 tips that have the potential to make your periods a little more manageable.

1) Download a period app
Thanks to the wonder that is technology, long gone are the days of needing to mark your calendar with the start date of your periods or keeping a secret diary of each day. Many period tracking apps are now available, many of which are free and can, honestly, be life savers! Not only do they prevent you from getting caught out as you'll know exactly when your period is coming, but they also allow you to keep a daily log of your pain, blood flow, mood, sleep, sexual activities, food and much more. A personal favourite of mine is Clue, as it tells me exactly when my next period is coming and just generally helps me plan better during that time. However, it's all about finding one that works well for you.

2) Carry spare underwear at all times
It's always better to be safe than sorry! Even if you're convinced a leak won't happen and extra underwear won't be necessary, take a spare pair just in case as you never know what may happen or what situation you may end up in. Shove them into your bag, especially a few days before your period is due, and you needn't think about them at all unless you need to use them, in which case you'll be relieved that you left the house three seconds later than usual to throw an extra pair in your inside bag pocket. When out in public, at work or school or somewhere it isn't possible to nip home during the day, a spare pair of underwear could save your life and your reputation!

3) Try exercising
Admittedly, the last thing you want to do whilst on your period is squeeze into a pair of workout leggings, a crop top and jog to the gym for an hour of intense cardio. Staying curled up on the sofa with a blanket, left over pizza and your favourite TV box set sounds much more appealing, right? However, exercise can sometimes be beneficial during your period. It can help reduce bloating and sweating helps rid your body of the water it has been retaining, consequently, lessening cramps. And 'exercise' needn't mean a five mile hike, it may just be a few sit ups, a little bit of yoga, a light walk or following a fitness DVD. Whatever form of exercise feels right for you, give it a try! It may relieve your body of some tension... or, don't exercise at all! Do what you please as, after all, you know your own body best! Just keep an open mind.

4) Use heat to relieve cramps
Period stomach cramps are no fun for anyone and, for a lot of people, they really can prevent you from going about your daily routine. When all you want to do is wallow in self pity and cry whilst clutching your stomach, try turning up the heat a little! Take a warm bath or try using a heat pad on your lower belly. You can actually make your own heat pads at home and a little DIY could help take your mind off of your cramps! You can either use the conventional hot water bottle or fill up a regular water bottle with hot water if you don't have one. Another option is to fill an old sock with either rice or flaxseeds and heat it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, this will create a heat pad to help ease your cramps and should last a couple of hours!

5) Reach for the healthier carbs over the fast food
Okay, so I'm the worst person to be telling you this as it makes me nothing other than a hypocrite, however, the healthier carbs are better for you when you're on your period. I know as much as the next person that chips, pizza, burgers and anything bad for you are the most appetising foods during that time of the month and, most of the time, I'd move heaven and earth to get my hands on some. However, are you ready for a fun science fact? The reason we crave these foods is because, the week before your period, your brain experiences a dip in serotonin, which is the chemical that makes you feel happy, to which your body's natural response is to crave foods that trigger instant happiness, aka, the ones that are high in fat, sugar and just carbs through and through! The issue with this is that they only provide a short burst of happiness and the after effects are negative. Of course, indulging is perfectly normal and more than acceptable, but you may want to try more wholesome carbs, such as sweet potato and whole grain bread, to satisfy your cravings for longer.

6) Avoid the coffee if you can
Cutting down on caffeine during your period can work wonders. Even when your period is making you want to do nothing except flop on your bed and sleep for a week and resisting the urge to drown yourself in coffee seems impossible, reducing your caffeine intake will mean your body is retaining less water and will, therefore, reduce bloating and cramps. It may seem difficult but cutting out coffee could be the one thing that makes your periods easier to manage. It's worth a try, even if you do rely on caffeine to get you through the day! It may be making things worse than you realise.

7) Get some more sleep at night
I doubt you need me, or anyone in fact, to tell you to get more sleep twice! I know I'd be straight in bed before someone could even finish saying that sentence to me. Try going to bed a little earlier at night if your busy life allows you to. Your period probably makes you feel exhausted most of the time and, since most of us don't have the luxury of being able to sleep in later every morning, going to bed an hour earlier each night seems to be the best way to combat sleepiness. Planning afternoon naps and earlier bed times about 14 days before your period begins is also a great way to reduce any future fatigue. Progesterone rises after the two week run up to your period and this hormone increases your need for sleep during you period, therefore, getting some extra sleep in the run up to your period is important and can prevent sleep problems during your actual period.

8) Put the scales away!
You needn't weigh yourself when you are not on your period because we all know that weight is just a number and doesn't equal worth, right? However, stepping on the scales whilst on your period may cause you to see a number different to usual. Because of water retention and natural weight fluctuation, your weight could be higher during your period and that's just not something you need to worry yourself with whilst you're already being an absolute superhero and fighting one of life's toughest things! When you're feeling low and in pain, weighing yourself and stressing over what society thinks you should weigh shouldn't be a priority. So, put the scales away!

9) Wash properly!
It's always necessary to wash properly but especially during your period when things aren't too pleasant down below. It's important to wash regularly to rid yourself of any excess blood and bad odour. It's also vital you know how to wash and that you know your vagina has its own cleaning mechanism and, therefore, doesn't require soap. Washing it with soap can actually kill the good bacteria and make way for infections. So, soap on the outside is fine but warm water everywhere else will do the job. Try to wash before changing into a new pad or tampon but, if it's not possible, be sure to clean up the areas using tissue or toilet paper.

10) Don't apologise or feel ashamed 
We have been conditioned into thinking that periods are something to feel ashamed of and society repeatedly, both directly and indirectly, tells us not to talk about them because they're "too gross." Well, above everything else, the most helpful thing you can do whilst on your period is refuse to apologise for it. Cry if you want to cry, complain about cramps if you want to complain about cramps, be five minutes late for work and don't feel bad about it if it means you can put some extra tampons in your bag. Billions of people worldwide have periods and you'd think they were more accepted and normalised than they are, but, until then, don't feel ashamed about having a period and don't listen to anyone who tells you you're being "too emotional" or "too moody." Just live your life and don't let your period stop you!

What period tips would you give to someone who's struggling?

Love, Emily

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