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Here's the story of how I learned how to practice self love while on my period.
On FaceTime with my best friend, I mentioned that I love getting my period. A look of confusion momentarily crossed her face.
“Oh, just to get it over with?” she asked.
Whenever it comes to the topic of getting your period, there’s often a sentiment of frustration and annoyance. From dealing with PMS to period-related body or gender dysmorphia, there’s no shortage of reasons for people who menstruate to despise that time of the month.
For years, I’ve had painful periods. Imagine waking up from vivid nightmares by intensifying cramps and mother nature’s gift around 6am. Rolling on the bathroom floor clutching my stomach. Dramatically crawling to my bed on hands and knees. These are regular sights in my household at least once a month.
Over time, I learned how to equip myself for the pain. Stocking up on heat pads and pain relievers while doubling down on rest and gentle exercise before my cycle. Of course, that doesn’t mean that my period is all sunshine and rainbows, since the mental effects of PMS are a whole other story.
I know what you’re thinking. If my period brings so much pain and discomfort, how could I possibly say that it’s something I want? Something I might even look forward to?
It’s easy to hate my period, but I’ve managed to find self-love and inspiration in letting it run its course. Here are the 3 ways I’ve come to love my period:
1. Reframing it as part of a cyclical, creative process
One snowy Friday in quarantine, I got my period and decided to stay in bed. By the end of the weekend, I had unintentionally written a small collection of short stories. I blame my period for this creativity. [reference-1]
According to psychologist Graham Wallas’s model of the creative process, there are four stages to creation:
- Preparation: This stage consists of gathering information, researching and reading.
- Incubation: When you step back from consciously working or problem solving.
- Illumination: Your aha-moment arrives!
- Verification: Time to build on and execute your idea.
If we liken the menstrual cycle to the creative process, your period becomes an intuitive timeframe for incubating and envisioning new ideas. Periods are typically an introspective time to retreat inwards and prioritize rest, as your hormones are at their lowest levels. The incubation stage of the creative process invites us to step back from consciously working on problem-solving. It suggests that our brains can come to a eureka moment without us banging our heads against the wall. And, it reminds us that rest is productive.
2. How to practice self love; listening to my body
In order to truly reap the juicy creative benefits, and repair your relationship to your period, you really do need to give in. That means giving your body exactly what it’s asking for.[reference-2]
What are you craving? What are your energy levels like? Do you want to be alone or around people? Do you feel more like planning or executing? Or do you feel like doing nothing at all? What does your body need at this moment?
Maybe I’m being dramatic, or maybe we need to stop gaslighting ourselves. If there’s anything that intersectional feminism has taught us about oppressive practices in the medical field, it’s that marginalized people are often subject to having their pain and concerns undermined. Since medical research typically privileges cis-male subjects, conditions that are experienced by people with uteruses are often under studied. Women’s medical problems have historically been dismissed and treated as irrational or hysterical.
For people who menstruate, this culture of dismissal can become internalized, making it even more challenging to listen to our bodies.
Listening to my body and giving in to what it’s asking of me has allowed me to reshape my relationship to my period, and eventually grow to love it.
3. Surrounding myself with people unapologetic about menstruation
In order to give in to what our bodies need, we need to create environments where it’s safe to communicate those needs unapologetically. The last piece of this period-love puzzle is about finding people who are unapologetic about menstruation, and keeping them close.
That might look like following wellness influencers, period advocates or period care accounts like ours @thedivacup (shameless self-promo). It could also look like immersing yourself in the female gaze by reading, watching and engaging with stories by and for women.
Working at a period-positive company, talking about periods online and interacting with people who menstruate every day helped me build a better relationship to my own period. Through working at Diva, I’ve come to learn that the simplest way to become someone unapologetic about menstruation is to speak about it openly.
If you’re looking for a safe space to speak openly about your period and maybe even love your period, DivaU is our private, TMI-free group on Facebook. Request to join here and you’ll be welcomed to a period positive place on the internet where we talk about all things DivaCup and periods.