Women are made for change.
In the Grá Mná series, we tackle how women adapt through hormonal phases of our lives. These changes are nothing short of miraculous and beautiful - but not without challenge, pain, discomfort and psychological symptoms.
When we experience these tidal shifts we need to learn new ways of supporting and honouring our evolving bodies and minds. With each transition we need to release the old and embrace new ways to care so as to move gently towards loving our new selves.
Wellness tips during PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
Our monthly period is uncomfortable, often with a variety of side-effects and physical symptoms. Symptoms of PMS can include fatigue, painful menstrual cramps, acne, headaches, breast tenderness and muscle soreness that make it difficult to make it through our list of daily tasks.
As women, we tend to push through and minimize what we are experiencing. It's time to listen to our body and practice self-care.
Learning this language takes time, information, a community of women and a whole lot of compassion. Here are some tips from wellness experts.
Use heat therapy.
Immersion in a hot bath or using a heating pad on your lower abdomen or back can ease menstrual and muscle cramps. Heat therapy works by relaxing the muscles of the uterus, increasing blood flow and easing pain.
A saltwater bath can provide the added benefit of infusing the body with vitamins and minerals. Follow with a ritual body massage while muscles are warm to address soreness.
Warmth has added comforting benefits which ease our emotional selves and stress responses. Warming your body is an effective remedy for anxiety and stress and boosts your mood.
Take time for rest.
We are constantly bombarded with activity, whether it is from the demands of work, family life or the daily onslaught of news and media. We are often unaware of the toll this takes on our physical and emotional wellbeing. Understanding the various forms of rest, and how we can incorporate them into our daily lives is an essential part of self-care and self-love.
During our period, we have the added challenged of elevated hormone levels that amplify the noise we manage on a daily basis. Sensory rest addresses the overload of DM’s, emails, and mindless scrolling that drains our cognitive batteries. We need to perform regular shut-downs on our minds to store what we have learned, to make sense of what we have experienced and to listen to what we need to do next to best support and serve our needs.
Learning to just “rest” can be challenging - but is a fundamental act of self love.
We live in an environment and a culture that promotes a kind of frenzied productivity that destroys our hormonal ecosystem. Overwhelm, anxiety, comparison and negative thought cycles block the oxytocin we need to love ourselves and others.
So learn to stop (even for a few minutes), to go slow, to rest and to switch off and feel the oxytocin bring you renewed life.
Record your rhythms.
One of the greatest lessons we can learn as women is to understand how our bodies respond to our hormonal cycles. By recording the rhythms, a pattern can emerge and we can begin to identify when during our menstrual cycle we feel energetic or fatigued, calm or anxious, joyful or sad.
This is more than just “on which day does your period begin”, this is about knowing what to expect from yourself as each day or week passes and to meet those needs compassionately. Tracker apps and journaling can help you begin to bring clarity and rationale to your moods and motivations.
Elevate your skincare routine.
One very visible and inconvenient aspect of our monthly hormonal changes is the impact on our skin.
Fluctuating hormones increase oil production which causes acne and breakouts. Facial Gua Sha is a gentle and soothing ritual to promote lymphatic drainage, reduce puffiness and sculpt the face - but it is particularly beneficial for PMS skin.
The Traditional Chinese facial tools when used in synchronicity with your menstrual cycle can help support hormonal balance. As we move through our cycle towards ovulation skin plumps, glows and looks its best. If hormones are imbalanced you’ll notice pimples on your lower mouth and chin. Post-ovulation you can begin to see clogged pores and blackheads form and 4-5 days before your period starts, the declining hormones can leave you emotionally charged with red hot breakouts.
Consistency is key with Gua Sha, and practising slow, firm movements on a regular basis will encourage the best results and flush out toxins throughout your cycle.
Get moving with an endorphin release.
We can counteract the hormones causing pain and PMS with our body's natural endorphins. Endorphins are released by the brain in response to pain or stress and when released can create a feeling of wellbeing.
Aerobic and strength training exercises are high endorphin release activities. You can also try gentle activities like brisk walking.
Sex is also hugely beneficial for PMS. During orgasm, the body releases a rush of dopamine and serotonin which relieves pain and makes us feel safe, happy and loved.
Multiple studies have also shown that taking a few minutes cuddling your pet releases the brain chemical oxytocin, a neurotransmitter linked to a feeling of bonding, comfort and love.
Weathering the monthly storm our bodies go through can make daily life challenging. By incorporating small daily rituals we help tune-into our needs and cultivate self-love. Grá Mná