The older I get, the more I appreciate my period.

I know, it’s sounds strange to say it. But just think about it—your period is your body’s natural way of regulating hormones, reminding you of the incredible strength of being a woman. That is true, and still, I have been one of those unlucky ladies with cramps that have caused me to throw up and missed work due to savage PMS symptoms (Did you know that Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, and Zambia all give menstrual leave at work? Sign me up!). Suffice to say that after all these years, I’ve learned a few homeopathic ways to keep PMS at bay.

photo: ashleigh amoroso

Nourishing, hot meals

I learned about this when I was preparing for my postpartum period. In many eastern countries, women are encouraged to stay in bed and eat deeply nourishing, hot food to help with the nutritional depletion that often comes after having a baby. Obviously, your period isn’t on quite the same level as having a baby, but it does make sense that stopping to eat a warm bowl of soup versus the nearest bag of Cool Ranch Doritos (or even a bowl of crunchy raw vegetables) will help to keep your body from falling into the nutritional depletion that can go on while on your period. Plus, it just makes sense that the more cozy love you treat your body with, the better you will feel. When I know my period is approaching, I always try to make a pot of chicken soup or a lovingly simmered tomato sauce.

Essential oils

I think I am probably the last person to get on the essential oil train. I was a major skeptic until I started using them for my headaches, and they absolutely worked wonders for me. I use peppermint to help with energy levels when I am feeling exhausted on the beginning days of my cycle, and rose oil is known for helping to relieve cramps and nausea. Lavendar essential oil can work as a natural anti-inflammatory, helping cramps relax. Personally, just the good aroma tends to make me feel relaxed and more positive which can’t hurt either.

Foam rolling

I really do think of this as the holy-grail of cramp relief. Foam rolling helps to relax your muscles and promote blood flow, and when done on my lower back, provides me with almost instant relief. Have you ever heard that exercise can help with cramps? I’ve found that to be true in my own life, but I definitely do not feel like going for a run when I am in pain. For me, foam rolling and some light stretching can help relax my body enough in order to actually go for that run. The combination of foam rolling and active cardio honestly does typically work as well for me as popping a couple of Advil but with the added benefit for releasing all those feel-good endorphins.

Increase your magnesium intake

Magnesium is known to be a helpful aid treating tight muscles, cramps, and giving your nervous system a break. Increasing your intake of fish and nuts can help you up the magnesium in your diet. Additionally, taking a soak in a hot Epsom salt bath (which is made up of magnesium sulfate), can help on multiple fronts.

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And let’s be real: there is no shame in the Advil game! Girl, I have been there. I do feel like there is something empowering though about learning what works for your body and how to treat your body in a loving, thoughtful way. Your period doesn’t have to be something you dread every month. It can be a way to tune in and really learn what works for your unique female body.

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