photo credit: ClipartFest
Several weeks ago, I was sitting in an Anthropology fitting room waiting for my friends to model the dresses we just picked. Rather than getting excited about the lace and bell sleeves, I became distracted by the intensifying pain in my abdomen. Yes – cramps always start at the worst time. So, what did I do? I put my brave face on because the attendant had some free macarons coming our way! It’s not always so easy to do since some days are worse than others (and they don’t always come with French treats). When cramps are mild to moderate, I find three things help: attitude shift, light exercise, and heat.
When you are in pain, the last thing you want is for someone to tell you to “smile and run a mile”. (My friends knows better than to tell me that.) Pain can intensify with stress or anxiety, but an upbeat attitude can help reduce those intensifiers. Focusing on people, places, and subjects that make you smile (like macarons) can help distract you from the pain and minimize your stress. I will always recommend doing what makes you smile!
Exercise increases blood flow and naturally reduces stress. When you are having a crummy day, choose low-impact aerobic exercises like walking, cycling, or swimming. If you have access to a gym, try the elliptical or Stairmaster. Walking is typically the most accessible (especially when you are already out of the house). For a bit more activity and movement, I find the elliptical best helps my mild ails. While you find what “works-out” for you, remember that the key is “low-impact” for about 30 minutes. Before or after, also consider applying heat since it increases blood flow and relaxes the muscles causing you pain. I almost always use a heating pad or take a hot bubble bath.
We all have those days, but don’t let them keep you down. Walk it off!
If you have not been active or experience severe menstrual pain, please talk to your doctor first.