The Power of the Period

I know I’m not the only one who has been met with faces of disgust when someone finds out I’m on my period or the only woman who has hesitantly and warily whispered around to my female colleagues in search of a pad or tampon if, god forbid, I forgot to pack my own. I’m definitely not alone in getting hit with the “are you on your period?” after an expression of anger or frustration.

We live in a society where women are expected to keep any issues of feminine health on the down low in order to avoid making others uncomfortable. This is a subject that many people find gross or even feel ashamed about.  If we do hear about it, it seems all we ever hear regarding menstruation is of a negative nature—the cramps, mood swings, break outs—but where is the good? Does it even exist?

Furthermore, although there are more women than men in the United States, men’s information on menstruation typically does not exceed 30 minutes of a high school biology class and a collection of experiences with the women that have surrounded them throughout their lives, which could vary of course, but due to the taboo that surrounds the subject, it usually isn’t much. Miseducation and ignorance only serve to further distort and demonize a woman on her period.

It’s easy to wish periods upon men after more than three consecutive days of irritability, agonizing cramps and incessant back pain. The hard work comes in learning to live with, be grateful for and channel that menstrual energy wisely. As women, we must break away from these norms and embrace our periods as well as learn how to handle them in ways that optimize our productivity, reduce our pain and help us gain more understanding of ourselves.

In this blog series we will visit three techniques that will help in changing your views on menstruation for the better, releasing a different tactic each week. This week, we will be covering mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness

The Here and Now; we are all technically “here”, but being truly and completely present is easier said than done. One of the most beneficial actions you can invest in is in becoming more mindful of yourself, body and mind. According to the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkeley, mindfulness is defined as “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.”

This means you are constantly asking yourself to be fully present in each experience. Usually, if we stick to it, we are able to decipher patterns in our cycles (and lives) and learn to work with them. Gauge your current state: What are you current emotions? Where are you feeling pain?  Is your libido up or down? Furthermore, this empowers us to understand ourselves, physiologically and psychologically at a deeper level. Research shows that mindfulness practices can help reduce pain and “improve symptomatology”, a very practical tool during the emotional and physiological stress of menstruation.

 

Tips for practicing mindfulness

  • Focus on your breathing before or during the completion of a task or start of an activity (e.g taking some mindful breaths before a meeting)
  • Put your phone down! It is easy to fall into functioning on autopilot when our tech devices are consuming all of our attention
  • Lay off the multitasking. Studies show that multitasking actually decreases our productivity and effectivity.
  • Try to sink into your senses and really take in the information you are seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and/or tasting.
  • Recognize negative self-talk and get out of that habit. Be kind to yourself!
  • Try meditation as a form of “formal” mindfulness.

 

References

Brantley, Jeffrey. “How Do I Bring More Mindfulness into My Life?” Mindful, Mindful, 1 June 2017, www.mindful.org.

“Online Master of Science in Applied Psychology.” USC Applied Psychology Degree, www.appliedpsychologydegree.usc.edu/