As 2020’s lockdowns have wreaked havoc on our day-to-day lives, taking time out for ourselves has become more important than ever. Before COVID-19 hit British shores, the majority of the UK population was already overworked and struggling to prioritise wellbeing – in fact, the average Brit works more than a medieval peasant! Add a period into the mix, with all its hormones and cramps, and self care becomes all the more important in maintaining optimum physical and mental health.
To help you recuperate from a tough year (and prepare you for a better 2021), we’ve rounded up our favourite ways to self care at every stage of our menstrual cycle. From sipping on raspberry leaf tea to attending a socially distanced belly dance class, you can make small changes that will have a big impact on your quality of life.
What to eat
If increased stress makes you crave bad-for-you foods that leave you feeling sluggish, try our favourite period-friendly foods:
- Take a tea break. It’s no secret that Brits love tea, so next time you sit down for tea time, try raspberry leaf (great for soothing period cramps), rooibos (perfect for keeping skin clear at every stage of your cycle) or peppermint tea (helps digestive pain).
- Overdose on leafy greens. Leafy greens like kale, spinach and Swiss chard are great at any time of month, but they’re especially important during your period, as they replenish lost iron. We love making wintry turmeric spiced kale chips for an easy and nourishing snack.
- Fill up on plant protein. While hormones tend to make us crave carbs, it’s important to remember that protein helps you feel full and maintain insulin levels, too. At &SISTERS HQ, we like to reduce meat consumption where possible, so we fill up on chickpeas, lentils and butter beans (all great in a stew).
- Eat dessert first. Your mum may have told you to wait until after supper to indulge in dessert, but dark chocolate can be enjoyed at any time of day! Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, it has a ‘pick-me-up’ effect, and it can increase feel-good hormone serotonin, which hits a low point during PMS.
What to do
December’s dark days may diminish your motivation to get moving, but we believe gentle exercise is key in maintaining physical and mental wellbeing, especially during winter:
- Attend a socially distanced dance class. There’s nothing quite like a good cardio session to get your endorphins flowing, and we especially love belly dancing as it’s artistic, fun and body positive. If you live in London, there are quite a few classes to choose from – if not, try giving it a go with virtual classes on the MindBody app.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness can be incorporated into day-to-day tasks like folding laundry, sipping a hot drink or walking. To get you started on living in the moment, we recommend the Headspace app (it even has a free trial!).
- Go for a winter walk. For those of you who haven’t heard of ‘cold therapy’ guru Wim Hof, he’s the man behind ice yoga and ice swims, purported to boost physical and mental wellbeing. While we don’t recommend swimming in a frozen lake just yet, studies have shown that exposing the body to cold can benefit mental health, as it stimulates chemicals like dopamine and noradrenaline. Now that the weather is cooling down, we like taking a mindful walk just as the sun sets for some peaceful yet energising exercise.
- Take a hot bath. What better way to wind down than with a hot bath? After you’ve taken your brisk winter walk, heat back up and soothe sore muscles (or even a sore uterus, depending on where you are in your cycle) in the bathtub. We like adding sea salt to our bath water for a natural way to keep skin soft and clean.
What to wear
If you’re the type of person who breathes a sigh of relief when you can finally remove your bra at the end of the day, try updating your wardrobe:
- Wrap up in a down alternative. At &SISTERS HQ, we believe that looking after our planet is one of the best ways to self care. We like to reduce our consumption of animal products wherever possible, including in our clothing – and with so many innovative alternatives to down feathers on the market, we can feel good about making the switch while keeping cosy.
- Switch to organic cotton pants. If you suffer from frequent thrush or discomfort during your period, try switching to organic cotton pants. Unlike synthetic materials, organic cotton is pH-neutral and absorbent, keeping you dry whether you’re sweating in a yoga class or menstruating.
- Upgrade your loungewear. We never thought we’d see the day when it became socially acceptable to live in sweats, but then 2020 happened! Don’t waste your money on expensive dresses or heels – instead, invest in some organic cotton pieces that’ll keep you comfortable in all stages of your menstrual cycle.
What to use
There’s no time like the present to treat yourself to a few early Christmas presents:
- Heat up with a lavender wheat bag. If you’ve ever suffered from period cramps, you’re probably no stranger to wheat bags, but have you ever tried one laced with lavender? Lavender wheat bags are soothing and calming all at once – lavender aroma has been proven to increase feelings of relaxation and relieve anxiety.
- Set the mood with scented candles. Winter is the perfect time to burn a few candles. As soon as the sun sets, create a cosy work environment with a few scented candles – we love BYREDO candles in Tree House and Bohemia.
- Switch to &SISTERS 100% organic cotton period products. Look forward to your period and switch to our 100% organic cotton period products, perfect for sensitive vulvas. Unlike supermarket pads and tampons, our organic cotton period products are gentle, chemical-free and pH-neutral. Shop &SISTERS 100% organic cotton period products now.
- Try &SISTERS nüdie period cup. If you’re someone with a heavy flow who always struggles to stay dry (especially during those first few days), try the nüdie! One nüdie can be worn for up to 12 hours, and it can hold more menstrual fluid than up to three tampons. Shop &SISTERS nüdie now.
We love helping you to help yourself stay happy at any stage of your menstrual cycle! For daily tips, facts and wellbeing tricks, follow us on Instagram.