Are you feeling burnt out during your period? Does menstruation make you tired? Tiredness during your period is totally normal. But what can you do when you feel worn out while bleeding?
If you've read my blog before, or you follow me on social media, you'll notice there's been a bit of a theme developing. Yep, ya girl is obsessed with periods. I used to HATE having my period. The cramping, the blood, the spots, the tiredness, the misery - oh the misery! Over time, I've learned how to work with my cycle instead of against it, and now period week is probably my favourite time of the month.
Let me make this clear, my period has not changed. I still get the cramping, the blood (obvs), the spots and the tiredness, but I learned to let go of the misery. By learning about what is happening in my body, and the understanding way it makes me feel, has really helped me to lean into the joy of menstruation. And yes, menstruation, your period, shark week, whatever you want to call it, absolutely can be a bloody joy if you let it.
Getting to know your body and listening out for what your body needs during this time is the key. Self care is a prerequisite for uncovering the magic of menstruation. Here are my 3 essential acts of self care for when you're on your period.
When you're on your period, your energy levels are low. You have a huge drop in hormones here and your oestrogen levels are at their lowest point. Low levels of oestrogen can affect your energy levels. Instead of desperately trying to fight through that and clinging to you to-do list like your life depends on it, schedule some time to sink into that rest your body is so deeply craving.
I know, we all have responsibilities, and just because you're bleeding doesn't mean your responsibilities all melt away, but some forward planning earlier on in your cycle when you are feeling more energetic can really give you the time and space you need to take it a little easier through your period. For some this might look like batch cooking during your ovulation phase, or getting laundry done in advance so you can let it slide for a couple of days. Obviously, there will be some commitments which mean you can't just go taking naps willy-nilly, but do what you can to rest. Sitting, rather than standing, take a bath rather than shower, or ordering pizza instead of cooking. Whatever you can do to conserve energy during this phase, do it.
Your body is shedding your uterine lining. Yes, that sounds like a big task. I mean, it kinda is, so it's perfectly acceptable for you to feel tired. Taking it easier (especially during the first two days of your period) and restoring some much needed energy will save you from burnout later on in your cycle. Taking a couple of days to slow down means you will be able to make the most of the high energy you experience during ovulation. So it makes sense to rest when you need it. YOU DO NOT NEED TO FEEL GUILTY FOR THIS. Lemme say it again for those at the back...
YOU DO NOT NEED TO FEEL GUILTY FOR SLOWING DOWN WHEN YOU ARE BLEEDING!!
Yes, your children will still need looking after. And yes, you might still need to provide food for your family. But there is no shame in taking the easy route, or asking for help where you need it. If a girl friend called you and said "Babe, I got my period and I'm so tired. I feel like crap. Could you watch the kids for an hour? I really need a nap." - what would you think? "Lazy cow, using her period as an excuse to slack off from being a mother! The cheek!" Or, would you be like "Girl, I feel you. This was me last week, I'll be right over". Those who love you are not going to judge you for looking after yourself.
Self care does not always look like bubble baths and face masks. In fact, one of the most important self care strategies you can implement is to set healthy boundaries. Boundaries are essential, and when you're not used to setting them you can feel like you're being selfish - but trust me, you're not. Saying no to things you're just not up for when you're bleeding can help you to get the rest your body needs.
I know, so often we're out to please everyone and we hate saying no unless we have a "legit excuse". But guess what, even if you aren't prioritising self care throughout the rest of your cycle, during your period it's paramount. Oh, and FYI, your period absolutely is a legit excuse to look after yourself. As Claire Baker puts it in her book, 50 Things You Need To Know About Periods, "Think of your period as the pit stop of your month... if there's one week of your cycle I encourage you to prioritize yourself, this is it."
When you're bleeding, you might not feel like being very sociable, and that's okay. If you track your cycle, you can start to learn when your period is likely to come. There are plenty of apps out there you can use to do this such as Clue or Flo, but if you prefer to do this with pen and paper you can download my free period tracking sheet. Getting to know when you're likely to bleed means you can mark out these days in your diary and schedule your plans around your period.
If you're caught out by your period and can't face plans that you've already made, that's okay. Plans can be rescheduled for a couple of days time when you're feeling a bit more up to it. Likely, at least some of your friends have periods too, so saying something like "Oh man! I just got my period and feel like shit. I really need to rest. Can we reschedule?" is probably a notion they can relate to. It's totally okay to set these boundaries - guilt not required.
Side note: Claire's book is absolutely a great read if you're looking to get to grips with your cycle and have a more enjoyable period. You can find it here: 50 Things You Need To Know About Periods
Asking For Help
Just like saying no, asking for help when we need it is also a tender act of self care during your period. You're tired, emotional and more than likely to have dropped the ball. That's okay - don't beat yourself up for it. Just ask for some help. You don't have to completely shut off while you're bleeding and let everyone else to run around after you (although, if this is an option I'd definitely be inclined to indulge), but asking someone else to help you out is no bad thing.
Even the smallest asks can make a huge difference to your wellbeing and stress levels while you're bleeding. I know one thing I definitely don't have the headspace for when I'm on my period is organising meals for my family. I tend to have a stock of homemade ready-meals in the freezer in preparation for this, but if I've not been organised enough to plan ahead, I ask for help. Asking my husband to take care of the dinner, or sometimes even just asking him to decide what we're having and I'll do the cooking, takes a lot of pressure off.
The thing is, while we are all capable of asking for help, sometimes guilt gets the better of us. There was a great post on Instagram recently from Natalie Lee @stylemesunday about how often as parents we live in this world where we expect ourselves to be everything for everyone all the time. Nat said:
"There is absolutely nothing wrong with making time for yourself and ensuring you’re top of your own priority list. It’s not selfish to look after yourself. There’s something about being a mother that has become synonymous with sacrifice and martyrdom, well that doesn’t always work for me. My kids need someone who isn’t always burnt out and tired. My daughter threw a coin into a fountain recently and made a wish - she wished for me to be happy and it really struck me to my core. So, I’m making it my priority to be happy."
Taking time out for yourself is not selfish. Asking for some help when you're not feeling your best is not selfish. Taking care of yourself should be a priority, and while it might feel impossible for it to be at the top of our priority list all of the time, I encourage you to make sure you are looking after yourself while you're bleeding.
If you want to get to grips with tracking your cycle, click this link to get my free period tracking sheet: www.cherrelleslaney.co.uk/tracker