Periods, productivity, hormones, emotions, cravings, sleep, self-care, mental health and the best knickers ever! This post has it all!
Since my wellness journey began I’ve been making a more conscious effort to put myself and my mental health first. And this has had an effect on how I treat my period.
I’ve been wanting to write a blog post about my period and for a while now.
But sometimes it’s hard to find the right words. Or even do it justice.
Especially when periods are so unique to each individual woman.
What I experience is completely different to what you may experience. And what you experience is totally different to what someone else might go through.
But because my blog is about my wellness and entrepreneurial journey it only makes sense for me to write about my own experience with my period whilst running a business.
So I thought I would write about how my period affects my productivity and how I feel about self-care during my cycle.
But first a little history…
My period and me
It’s safe to say me and my period haven’t always gotten along.
It’s been 19 years and my period still can’t seem to show up on time. Sometimes it’s a week late (cue the panic), sometimes it’s a week early.
Sometimes it shows up for a day, other times it shows up for 5.
I can’t help but feel like my period makes my life difficult on purpose. Or maybe she gets FOMO or something.
Conversations with my period
Me: I’m so excited to go on holiday!
My period: Same! I’m coming too!!
Me: I’m really loving the Everest Base Camp trek.
My period: I’m missing all the action, I’m going to come and join you.
Me: Let me plan my birthday celebrations around my period.
My period: You don’t want me to be at your birthday?
Me: No not really.
My period: Well you don’t actually get to decide so I’m going to be there whether you like it or not.
Me: Why do you always show up earlier than expected?
My period: Cos I miss you!
So yes I’m always unprepared for when it does actually show up. Because it always seems to show up at the most inconvenient times.
I had my first ever period when I was 12 years old. My parents had recently separated and I had gone over to Greece to see my dad.
It started while I was over there and my mum was back here in the UK.
Well… you try telling your 2 older brothers and dad that you just started your period.
Not only was I unprepared sanitary product-wise, but I was unprepared mentally. I don’t know what gets taught to teenage girls now but when I had the “period chat” at school my form teacher made it seem like no big deal.
That you only lose about 2 teaspoons of blood a day.
Well, I don’t know what 2 teaspoons of blood a day looks like to you but believe me when I say this, the first time I had my period I thought I was going to die.
It was way more than 2 teaspoons in 24 hours. More like 2 teaspoons in 5 minutes.
And thanks to my hysteria, panic and belief that I was dying neither my brothers nor my dad took me very seriously.
It got to the point where I had to show them physical evidence that I had just started my period.
And just to reiterate, I was 12.
My period and work
Ok, so you’re probably thinking “Thalia it was your first period! It’s not supposed to be sunshine and rainbows, I’m sure it got better.”
And I suppose it did.
Unless I’ve just blocked out all those times my period leaked through my clothes or onto my bed. Or forgot about the time when I was 17 and my pad dropped out of my knickers onto the floor and landed sunny-side-up in front of a boy at school.
Yup, that was pretty mortifying.
So no, I don’t think my experience with my period has ever gotten better.
It’s just something that I’ve learnt to deal with.
Like all of us really.
Because as a society, we don’t treat periods seriously enough.
Women are just expected to get on with it. And that’s exactly what we do.
It’s rare that any woman would consider taking a day off during her period at a 9 to 5 job. The thought is probably quite inconceivable.
When I used to work at my 9 to 5 in London, asking for a personal day or even to work from home during my period was unthinkable.
But now that I’m my own boss, I can allow myself to take a day off during heavy days or when my cramps are too painful to handle.
And that’s great right?
But despite how lucky I am to be able to do this, I still can’t stop the guilt that comes with it. The guilt of not doing anything when my period is at its most painful.
And I can’t seem to shake the feeling that I’m making my period worse than it is, to justify taking a self-care day.
My period and guilt
This past month I had a particularly bad period. I had terrible cramps which left me lying in the foetal position asking John to take care of me.
After a busy few days beforehand I was also emotionally and physically drained.
My boobs always swell up a week before and during my period and they get horribly painful. Because of this, I didn’t feel like moving my body or exercising.
I skipped the gym and even made an excuse to not go on a walk because it was raining. But in all honesty, I just couldn’t be bothered.
All I wanted to do was curl up in bed and watch TV. I mean Lupin Part Two had just landed on Netflix so could you really blame me?
But after a few hours, I felt guilty.
I felt guilty for my lack of motivation. I felt guilty for wasting precious time where I wasn’t working on my business.
And before we jump to conclusions, this had nothing to do with social media. Yes in the past I’ve felt guilty for being unproductive because of the hustle culture that’s so popular on Instagram.
But this time my feelings were all bought on by me and me alone.
I can’t help but feel that when I’m on my period self-care is sometimes unwanted. I’m not intentionally seeking self-care but sometimes I don’t have another choice.
I want to be productive, I want to work but my body won’t let me concentrate and I get restless.
Whereas before I would force myself to feel better, I’m now learning to give in to how my body feels, what it craves and allowing it the rest it needs.
I no longer fight back.
Instead, I do things to help me be as productive as I can be on my period while still giving myself the right amount of self-care.
And every month I’m learning to be kinder to my emotions, hormones and uterus.
8 tips to help you balance productivity with self-care during your period
I’ve made a note below of the things I now do to help balance productivity with self-care during my period.
Some of these tips work every time, others need a little adjustment depending on how I’m feeling and how painful my period is.
(Yes, even at 31 years-old every period I have is still different to the last).
I hope you find comfort in these tips and they help or inspire you in some way.
1. Learn to understand your hormones
Hormones are complex. They’re temperamental and can be incredibly annoying.
Instead of ignoring them and brushing them aside get to know your hormones.
Do your research.
Read up on estrogen, progesterone and serotonin. Find out when each one is at its highest or lowest during your cycle. I know you learnt about it in school but really how much do you actually remember?
Once you learn more about your hormones you can start to adapt your daily routine to work with your cycle instead of against it.
Over time you will be able to figure out when you feel most productive during your cycle and when you want to curl up in bed and just do nothing.
2. listen to your emotions
It’s no secret that periods can make you feel emotional.
I usually get hyper-sensitive a week before my period is due and can end up crying at the smallest things. I also get irritated very quickly and the littlest thing could set my temper off.
In the past, my emotions were something I never used to face. I always shrugged them off, blamed my hormones and that was that.
But after the year we’ve had stuck at home and figuring out how to build a business while working from home, all while dealing with a period, I started to take notice of my emotions.
I learnt to become aware of what triggered my tears or what would set me off.
I now make sure John is also aware. A week before my period is due, I tell him to be extra sensitive with me.
So I can’t stress enough how important it is to track your emotions. Write them down. Figure out why you feel a certain way and learn what triggers it.
Tell the ones you live with or work with when your period is due so they can also understand your mood swings or behavioural changes and be a bit more forgiving.
I guarantee by having this extra support your period will be a lot more bearable!
3. get plenty of sleep
I mean I don’t know about you but I get a lot of hot flushes and I’m forever needing a wee in the middle of the night.
When I’m on my period I also always feel lethargic and drained.
Getting between 7-9 hours of good sleep a night is essential for your mental and physical health on a normal day but during your period it can be a struggle.
I suggest trying to get longer than 7-9 hours when you’re on your period to balance out any sleep you miss during the night.
Take a nap during the day if you’re particularly tired or go to bed extra early.
Disable the alarm and have a lie-in.
Treat yourself to a long morning where you stay in bed for an extra hour relaxing
Read or watch a bit of Netflix.
Allow yourself the rest you need so you can show up after your period feeling refreshed and ready to go.
4. Schedule in client projects around your cycle
Creatively speaking, I feel most uninspired when I’m on my period.
Because I run a creative business doing design work I try and schedule client projects around my period.
(Obviously knowing when it’s about to turn up would be a great help).
This allows me to not have to worry about reaching deadlines or starting new projects during heavy days when my cramps are at their worst.
I take it easy and if I do have a spur of creativity I will work on personal projects or do a bit of content creation instead.
5. Limit your to-do list to 3 manageable tasks a day
Want to know what’s worse than a period?
A period with a never-ending to-do list!
Seriously, don’t give yourself any more work than you have to do when you’re not feeling your best.
Your period and your well-being should be your main priority.
So don’t overload your to-do list during heavy days and just give yourself 1-3 small but important tasks that you can finish easily.
6. Work from your bed or somewhere that is comfortable
For me, when I have cramps or back pain the last thing I want to do is sit on a chair in my home office.
I want to feel comfy and cosy.
So I choose to work from my bed and there’s no shame in doing it. I actually feel like I’m more productive working from my bed too.
During your next period try out a different work spot. Give your bed a go or even the couch. See where you feel most comfortable.
You might just find that working from somewhere different than usual might have a positive impact on your productivity during your period.
7. Nourish your body
When it comes to eating food during your period I feel that you should never hold back.
I’m already a natural sweet tooth but when my hormones are raging I crave chocolate even more than usual. And bread!
I usually avoid white carbs doing the week but when my body is asking for it I go “sod it” and eat the bread.
It is so important to nourish your body with food and water during your cycle and to give in to your cravings if you have any (of course don’t go overboard).
Besides, you’ll find that nourishing your body and giving it the food it craves will actually make you feel better overall!
Ask a loved one to put together a period package for you.
Every month John goes out and buys me some biscuits, wine and chocolate so I don’t have to worry about not being able to satisfy my cravings.
Receiving a period package will also make you look forward to your period and even enjoy it a little bit more!
Of course, you can be the one in control and create your own period package. It doesn’t have to be food either! It can be absolutely anything that will make your period a little less painful.
8. Get yourself a pair of period knickers
I’m not even kidding when I say this but wearing period pants has changed my life.
(And have increased my productivity during my period too!)
They’re environmentally and financially friendly. I no longer have to worry about buying sanitary products or disposing of them afterwards.
My period pants give me full coverage and I don’t even have to worry about leaks! I went for the sexy Sensual style with maxi – 24 hrs absorbancy so I can wear them all day during heavy days.
That means fewer breaks to the bathroom where I need to change my pad and more time spent on doing the things I want to be doing! Whether that’s being productive or indulging in self-care.
I love Modibodi and I think you will too so go and treat yourself and your period with £10 off your first order!
*Please note the above link is an affiliate code. If you make an order with Modibodi using my code I will be rewarded at no extra cost to you.
Extra tips for mindfully boosting productivity during your period
If you feel particularly unproductive during your period and want to increase productivity and focus, then try out these mindful boosters.
- Listen to a motivating podcast
- Zone out to Binaural Beats: Focus on Spotify
- Use a Pomodoro timer
- Time-lapse yourself
- Declutter your workspace
- Get outside for fresh air
- Take a break!
- Go and work in a coffee shop
- Drink plenty of water
Periods can be a pain in the arse.
But after 19 years I’m finally done hating on my period and accepting it for what it is. And in doing so I am being kinder to myself, listening to my emotions and allowing myself to feel.
I’m in no way medically trained but I write these blog posts about my own experience and how I choose to cope in hope that it will inspire others.
Before sticking to the tips above I suggest that you test them out first. Because what works for me might not necessarily work for you.
And there might be other ways that help boost productivity during your period.
Don’t be afraid to try things out!
I’m always here.
Until next week,
♡ Thalia xx