The Christmas period. We’re not talking that whole month of jolly festivities that begin December 1st (or the whole two months, for those extreme festive enthusiasts out there who whack out the tree as soon as Halloween is over). We’re talking about when Aunt Flo shows up uninvited to the Christmas festivities expecting the royal treatment.
For me, Aunt Flo arrives like clock-work around the 25th of every month and she could not care less whether it’s my birthday, my boyfriend’s birthday or Jesus’ bloody birthday. She never brings a birthday gift and she never lets me know when she’s running late or arriving early – how rude! Christmas is such a wonderful time of year, but you can’t be your best self when you’re hunched over mid-cramp weeping into your Christmas dinner. So here are 12 pieces of advice to help you survive the big day bleeding and give Aunt Flow the merry middle finger…
1. Be prepared
We’ve heard it all before ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. GCSE exams had that permanently etched in my brain, but it has some truth to it. This year not only do I need to prepare 70 roasts potatoes, but I need to prepare for my period. Supermarkets are not open Christmas Day and most local shops charge twice the amount menstrual products, so it’s just as important to ensure you have a stock.
2. Learn to say ‘No’
This is an important one I seriously struggle with myself. Christmas is such a social season and when you’re inundated with invites to parties and catch-ups with old friends, it can be a little overwhelming and hard to say NO. But dare I say it, you do not have to accept every invite. If you’ve got a bloated tummy, being crippled by period paid and you just want to binge-watch true crime documentaries in bed (guilty!) then that’s OK. You do you. Plus, it’s always better to not fully commit to an invite than say yes and flake anyway (also guilty). Learning to say no is hard but give it a go!
3. Get a good night’s sleep
This goes without saying and I know you must be so excited for Father Christmas sneaking down your chimney but go to bed! If you’ve got children, this one is even more important. The stress of the big day, plus a lack of sleep and period pains is not a good recipe for being merry and bright. Ensuring you get a good night’s sleep before the big day is imperative! This nicely leads onto the next one…
4. Ask for help
If you’re stubborn, this can be a hard one too. Christmas can be stressful, especially if you’re the host and you’ve got worry about feeding the five thousand whilst juggling raging symptoms of PMS and a cramping stomach. If you’re struggling ask for help, get people peeling veg and the kids setting up the table.
5. Take a moment for yourself
Here’s some professional advice, friend and psycho-therapist Amy Gorton advises that you should…
“Give yourself permission to have some space. Families are hard work at the best of times, especially at Christmas. It’s even harder when your hormones are everywhere. You don’t need to spend every hour of the day with your family. Take some time out, give yourself a breather and don’t feel guilty about it! Remember you’re a grown up now and our families always make us feel like we are 10. So, it’s important to do something that reminds us we’re adults and we have our own autonomy now”.
6. All the hot stuff
Take a hot bath, cuddle up with a hot water bottle whilst watching The Royle Family Christmas Special, drink a hot chocolate (or warm mulled wine) … and relax.
Christmas is one of two occasions in the year where its acceptable to have chocolate for breakfast, so take full advantage of this. However, if you want the maximum benefit for easing cramps and PMS then stick to high-quality dark chocolate, specifically chocolate with over 65% of cocoa solids. Good quality chocolate dark chocolate has a lower sugar content and contains endorphins which can help lift your mood. Be mindful that a sugar overload can make youeven more emotional but hey ho… ho ho it’s Christmas. Give yourself permission to indulge and own it, guilt free!
This is a life-saver for period cramps! Magnesium is a mineral found in most food sources and without getting too science-y it aids in neuro-transmission and regulates muscle contractions… cramps!! Scientific evidence suggests that magnesium levels drop during the second half of your menstrual cycle suggesting a possible link between low magnesium levels and symptoms of PMS. Chocolate is also high in magnesium, hence chocolate cravings. However, magnesium is best absorbed topically (through your skin). Magnesium spray is a stomach cramp stopper in a bottle when sprayed directly onto your abdomen. I swear by it! It does itch a little the first time you use it, so be mindful. Alternatively,you can throw some magnesium salts into your bath.
9. Go for a walk
Exercise is another thing you can do to really alleviate stomach cramps and get the happy hormones flowing! Having said that, you don’t want to be smashing out a HIIT session Christmas Day, or maybe you do but going for a Christmas Day walk with the family sounds much more appealing. Not only will it make you feel good, but you’ll be spending quality time with the fam away from the cramped (no pun intended) confines of your house. If you have a dog, even better!!
10. Give a menstrual-cup a try!
If you’re conscious of the amount of waste produced during the Christmas period (30% more waste than usual – including two million turkeys and six million Christmas trees) then why not give a re-usable menstrual-cup a go. It’s totally hygienic, helps reduce plastic waste and is a one-off payment, winner!
The Christmas Gift
Christmas can be full of presents but it’s also important to remember to be present. It’s been an important lesson for me to recognise what a gift my period truly is. Getting my period every month means my body is healthy and functioning the way it is supposed to. I practice gratitude instead of grump towards my period and it really does help. A shift in perspective can do you the world of good.
12. Gift some period joy to another in need
Having said that for some people, periods are not always a gift and can be nothing more than a hefty financial strain. In true festive spirit, why not give the gift of basic menstrual needs. We say just £1.50 can provide one person with one month’s worth of menstrual products. See the link below to make a donation to EVERY MONTH via our fundraising page. Together we can tackle period poverty!
Merry Christmas ppl, have a bloody good day whether you’re bleeding or not! xxx
by Hannah De Clegg, EM Blogger