Even though it happens on a monthly basis for most, menstruation has a way of catching women off guard. Premenstrual symptoms, such as irritability, bloating, or cravings seem to rise inexplicably out of nowhere!
Then there is that “aha” moment when the period actually begins and it all starts to make sense. Every discomfort connected to the period has a sound biological explanation and can be remedied with nutritional and lifestyle adjustments. So, let’s be prepared every month by incorporating five habits to better manage and even look forward to having your period.
1 – Start Tracking Your Cycle
You can’t prepare for your cycle if you have no idea when it’s coming. Tracking your period helps you understand the changes your body is going through, as well as establish an average menstrual cycle length for future fiqh issues related to ritual purity. Basic methods of tracking include the use of a simple calendar and calculating an average cycle length.
More contemporarily, there are free period tracking apps you can use on your devices. There is also a thorough low-cost app called MyFlo that tracks your symptoms through the entire month with phase-specific advice for meal choices, exercise routines, and lifestyle habits.
2- Lighten Your Schedule
When you know when to expect your cycle, you can clear your calendar to make space for the kind of care your body needs at that time. Consider scheduling your appointments, errands, and demands in a way that allows you to take on a lighter load when your body is most in need of a break. Societal pressures push women to function in the same way, every day, in spite of themselves. However, let’s be super clear about a biological fact: women are not the same on a day-to-day basis.
Reproductive events like forming a follicle, creating uterine lining, ovulating, and then shedding uterine lining occurs without our conscious management and supervision.
Furthermore, the symphony of hormonal changes conducted within us will undoubtedly affect our socialization, energy levels, blood sugar levels, and mental focus according to the respective menstrual phase. When we give ourselves room to witness the subtle and not-so-subtle changes occurring, we can learn to read our body’s cues and give our body her due rights.
3 – Increase Your Rest
While the female body needs adequate rest throughout the entire month for optimal hormonal balance and stress management, menstruation is the time to sleep in, turn in early, and nap when possible. If you find that your life is too busy to secure at least six hours of sleep per day, develop a strategy to get more rest so that you can function with greater energy and productivity.
Women are blessed with incredible resilience to weather changes like becoming a mother, losing sleep, caring for the sick, etc. But beware of normalizing burnout and not moving towards a sustainable way of living that can support your health and well-being.
4 – Warm Up Your Body
For the womb to efficiently cleanse itself in a few short days as opposed to nearly an entire week, you need to encourage good circulation throughout the body. You can do this by eating warm, cooked foods, sipping tea throughout the day, and consuming warming spices like ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, and cayenne.
During other times of the month, cardio exercise and vaginal steaming helps to improve general circulation; but during your menses, let what you consume do the work for you. Additionally, you might find comfort resting with a hot water bottle, heating pad, or extra layers.
5 – Nourish Yourself
The loss of menstrual blood means that iron, minerals, and blood volume will be loss too. Enrich your diet with iron-rich foods like leafy greens and legumes, mineral-rich foods like seaweed and herbal teas, and good fats like avocados and nuts to keep cravings at bay. Consider that every morsel of food you consume has the potential to be healing medicine.
Avoid beverages that deplete the body like excess caffeine and refined sugar. Instead, enjoy nettle, hibiscus, or mint tea paired with dates or dark chocolate. Save salads for another time and focus on spicy stews that are easy to digest and soothing to the body. Also, beware of inflammatory foods like dairy, gluten, and saturated fats which can increase cramping and period discomfort. Supplements like magnesium and B-complex are helpful to relieve pain and help manage stress.
In a society that demands more and more of women without regard for her unique design and biological intricacies, you have to be your own advocate in demanding time for your self-care and replenishment. Carve out time to journal, reflect, and be in awe of the gift of womanhood. Allah has crafted a special act of worship for the female body, and we should honor the work of our wombs instead of wishing we were relieved of them.