Mother Nature has impeccable timing, doesn’t she? For example, remember that one time you and your squad strategically planned the most epic Memorial Day weekend around your cycles, only for your period to arrive late that month — and by late, I mean on the car ride down the shore? Sometimes these things truly happen by coincidence; other times your period just happens to overlap with the most wonderful times of the year, like the holiday season, and you just have to deal. Navigating how to enjoy the holidays on your period can be tough because, while you’d love nothing more than to visit with your family for Christmas, or get all dressed up for New Year’s Eve, your body’s practically begging you to stay in pajamas all day and eat gingerbread cookies straight off the platter. It’s PMS with a festive twist, for sure, but it’s still not the same.
Personally, I’ve never experienced a Christmas that overlapped with my cycle, but I have endured Mother Nature on many a Fourth of July celebration. As crappy as I felt, though, lying poolside over taking a dip wasn’t the end of the world. Obviously summer holidays and the winter wonderland that is Christmahanakwanzika are two completely different scenarios, but I know for a fact that, if your ~special~ time of the month arrives just in time for this holiday season, you can still enjoy the most wonderful time of the year regardless.
Granted, I understand it’s probably easier said than done, especially if you’re experiencing some tough symptoms, but according to a few experts in the space, it’s possible to get through the holiday season with a smile on your face, even if you’re enduring a rough menstrual cycle. Here’s how you can get through it.
Choose Hot Chocolate Over A Hot Toddy
My husband and I have gotten into the habit of searching for festive drinks to serve at every party we host and attend, and I’m pretty stoked to see what we’ll come up with for the holidays. Unfortunately, though, should Mother Nature come around Christmastime, Dr. Jill Blakeway of Yinova highly suggests you either keep alcohol out of your cup, or make sure you’re drinking enough water to offset its effects.
"Look after your liver," Blakeway tells Elite Daily. "The holiday season can be hard on our livers, but if you are suffering from menstrual cramps, it’s a good idea to go easy on alcohol, interspersing each alcoholic drink with a water or something else non-alcoholic, for example."
According to Blakeway, the liver is responsible for the smooth flow of blood. Alcohol can cause stagnation of blood, leading to a disruption of the flow and possible cramping, she explains. Plus, Blakeway adds, in conventional medicine, "the liver is responsible for the uptake of excess estrogen, and estrogen dominance is associated with menstrual cramps and PMS." In other words, too much alcohol can mess with your hormones, which are already having a moment during your cycle. So either keep away from alcohol altogether, or just be mindful of how much you’re consuming.
Pamper And Prepare Before You Party
Sure, you can cram your clutch with ibuprofen and on-the-go heating strips, but there’s only so much you can fit into those tiny things. Make sure you’re packing a few of your go-to products like travel Advil packets and extra tampons in case you need these things while you’re out and about, but according to Blakeway, it’s also a good idea to treat yourself to some soothing self-pampering before your holiday outing.
She recommends taking a bath before your night out with calming essential oils like lavender, rose, and ylang-ylang "could be a helpful move, as well."
Got room in your clutch? Good, you’re going to need it. It’s always a smart idea to carry ibuprofen with you, just in case, but especially during this time of the month when your hormones are raging and things like cramping and headaches can ensue at any time, these over-the-counter products can be a saving grace.
"Heat and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen) are the most effective direct intervention for menstrual cramps," Joshua Klein, chief medical officer and reproductive endocrinologist at Extend Fertility, tells Elite Daily. And, if you can fit it, Klein also says heating pads, heat wraps, strips, etc. are also great to have on hand.
Make Sure Partying Doesn’t Take Precedence Over A Good Night’s Sleep
Even if your symptoms are mild, and you feel like you can definitely hang just as long as the rest of ’em, Klein says the role an adequate night of sleep plays in your menstrual cycle is pretty significant. Ergo, you might feel up to partying, but your body is probably requesting that you head home at a reasonable hour so it can rest up for round two tomorrow.
"You may want to linger at an event to the wee hours of the night, but only do so if you know you’ll be able to sleep in and recover the next morning," Klein tells Elite Daily. "If you’re pushing yourself beyond your normal sleep requirements, it will catch up with you."
Celebrate Solo If Need Be
I know this is probably the last thing you want to hear, but if your period symptoms have you feeling anything but merry and bright, you might want to sit out a few celebrations this year. No, it won’t be the same as gathering around the living room with your friends and family to exchange presents and reminisce about old times, but who says celebrating the holidays solo can’t be festive?
"A hot bath, a self-care ritual including scented candles and/or essential oils, making and eating some period meals all help to alleviate the painful [symptoms] associated with periods, no matter what time of the year [it is]," Yanghee Paik, co-founder and CEO of non-toxic femcare brand Rael, tells Elite Daily. "Add these natural facial sheet masks to your self-care ritual to get some face-lovin’ during your period."
Self-care is something worth celebrating year-round, but to make it even more festive for the holiday season, Klein says little things like lighting scented candles, putting on Christmas music, or watching some holiday movies on Netflix can all help you "cope with bad menstrual symptoms" and "still stay connected with the holiday spirit."
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