When it comes to period-related symptoms, many menstruators will openly talk about physical symptoms such as bloating, cramps, moodiness, insatiable hunger, the occasional chocolate craving, and the general blah feeling. However, there's also a mental period symptom that many women struggle with that isn't often discussed: low self-esteem.
Recently, we put up a poll on social media asking Rael followers if they've experienced lower self-esteem during their period, and 75% responded with a resounding yes. Furthermore, 89% said they lose motivation and energy during their period, and 70% reported even dressing differently while they bleed. In other words, our periods can really take a toll on the way we feel about ourselves, even if we feel pretty confident throughout the rest of our cycle.
So, if you find yourself feeling more self-critical than usual once per month, firstly, know that you're not the only one. And secondly, there's an explanation for this. The factor responsible for these changes in self-esteem are—you guessed it— hormones.
During your period, your estrogen levels go down, leading to a dip in serotonin, the chemical that helps regulate mood, which can affect the way you feel mentally. This can result in feeling more emotionally sensitive, having lower self-confidence and poor body image, or other negative feelings.
On the bright side, there are some things you can do to support yourself physically and mentally to help you feel like your best self during your period. Keep scrolling for some tips.
7 tips for feeling like your best self during your period
Set your intentions
Menstruation is the phase of your cycle for letting go and shedding—literally. Your uterine lining, which your body built up to prepare for pregnancy, is shedding. So, instead of focusing on doing more, see your period as a monthly reminder and opportunity to slow down and take inventory of what is working in your life and what you need to let go of during this upcoming menstrual cycle.
In addition, use this downtime to set your intentions and goals for this menstrual cycle. What do you hope to accomplish in the next few weeks, and how do you most want to feel? Write it all down.
Give yourself time to relax
During your period, energy levels tend to dip as well, which can leave you feeling like doing, well, nothing—and that's okay. Listen to your body. Carve out time to just chill and watch movies. If possible, schedule or postpone things that require you to be high-energy for the following week.
Track your cycle
Whether you've been menstruating for a couple of years or a couple of decades, tracking your period and menstrual cycle can be incredibly empowering. Without tracking, low self-esteem can sneak up on you every single month. With cycle tracking, you become more aware of the fluctuations in how you perceive yourself throughout the month. So when you do feel down, it doesn't surprise you, and you're more likely to practice self-compassion. And, cycle tracking can also make you feel more in control since you can adjust your schedule according to how you'll feel. For instance, if you know you have to give a big presentation at work, you can schedule it after your period when you feel more confident.
Take good care of your skin
In addition to affecting our self-esteem, the hormonal changes during our menstrual cycle can also impact how our skin looks and feels. This is why stepping up your skincare routine is important not just for maintaining the health of your skin but also to give you that added confidence that clear, glowing skin provides. Enter Rael's new Miracle Clear Collection, a three-step vegan skincare system backed by science. Developed with hormonal complexion care in mind, the Miracle Clear Collection helps strengthen the skin barrier, prevents breakouts, hydrates the skin, reduces excess oil caused by hormonal changes, and gives your skin the glow up it deserves. Bonus points: The line is also vegan, clean, cruelty-free, and dermatologist tested.
Use the right period products
Comfort is queen when it comes to periods. To feel like your best self, you need period products that are not only effective and safe for your body, but that make your period feel as pleasurable as possible. The best period product will be different for everyone. For some menstruators, tampons will be a go-to, while others may prefer the comfort of a period panty or a menstrual cup. Find the period products you love and make you feel good in your body, and stick to those.
Incorporate gentle exercise
Although your energy may be lower than usual during your period, moving your body will significantly benefit your overall mood. However, instead of opting for intense workouts (we're looking at you, spin class), use this time to incorporate slower, gentler, low-intensity movement such as brisk walking, yin yoga, or Pilates. Basically, any exercise that is slower and focused on cultivating relaxation is the way to go. Your body will thank you.
Have fun with fashionWhile you may not feel comfortable wearing some of your usual closet staples during your period (maybe you're too bloated for your favorite skinny jeans, for instance), take it as an opportunity to have fun with your wardrobe. As the saying goes, if you look good, you feel good. So, being mindful of wearing things that make you feel good and comfortable in your body while you bleed will give you that added pep in your step when you're feeling low. Say yes to flowy dresses and other bloat-friendly pieces, as well as darker colors and those super stretchy leggings that hug you just right.
Rael Reminder: Yes, it’s possible to feel like your best self during your period. Here’s how: getrael.com/blog.