Self-care & cramps.

Today we're getting even a little more personal and I'm going to share what indulging in self-care means to me and how I discovered it through something all women share: our menstrual cycle. This morning I had an epiphany, one that hits me every month for that matter, but today I decided I was going to remember it by writing it down. 

My period reminds me to be calm. The moment it arrives is a time when I become perfectly in tune with my body and needs, and I feel OK with it. All of the rising tension and chaotic anguish leading up to it have disappeared and something has fallen into place. The disharmony I was fighting against has found its way out, and now my body is relieved with a perfect balance physically, psychologically, and emotionally. I'm not sure if all women feel this sense of emotional relief, but if anything, I wish to pass along some wisdom that a sweet doctor once told me, that which I am living out in this very moment. That piece of wisdom is this:

Our menstrual cycle is a time that we need to allow our body to rest, and the uncomfortable symptoms we feel is our body reminding us to do so.

I know the first thought here is that the reality of work schedules, caring for a house and children, studying, and many other reasons keep self-care as the last priority on our daily agenda. But despite the endless responsibilities, I also know that I am the one in charge of my schedule, not vice versa. I know that the contentment I am enjoying in this moment is something I wish to feel again, and again, and again; and that means that something has got to change. A meeting might get canceled, today's long to-do list might have to be stretched out over a of couple days, and the elaborate meal with friends might need to be substituted with a quick bowl of cereal and a cup of tea in bed. All of these things are not only OK, but necessary more often than done. The secret to allow yourself such and to actually enjoy it is a process, but it is possible.

There's a flip side to this. As I sit in bed, a hot chai latte in hand and a hot compression on my lower belly, I feel a sense of a deserving right and I exhale a sigh of relief in knowing that I have an excuse. I have a reason to relax, an arguable excuse to sit back and cater to my sore body. But what if I don't have aching cramps, a head ache, or feel faint? I ask myself, do I really need a physically ailing condition to excuse my overdue moment of self-care? No, I don't. I am my own excuse. My existence and the fact that I am breathing is my right to love on myself and to load myself with care in moments of both depletion and wellness. 

A stable well-being does not disqualify the right to rest or indulge, but rather beggons such treatment all the more. After experiencing what it's like to awaken from the darkness of depression, I want nothing more than to linger and bathe myself in moments as these because I can feel them, and I can enjoy them. 

So, whether it be easing the discomfort of menstrual cramps, taking time out to practice breathing exercises, or simply enjoying life because you can - do it!

Here are some ways that I've spent my past few days treating myself to moments of what I like to think of as little indulgences. 

Enjoying a tiny latte. Sometimes we have to take all the work we can get, but I intentionally make this place a stop between my last student and my therapy session. Its a little me time that I look forward to at the end of the day.

Enjoying a tiny latte. Sometimes we have to take all the work we can get, but I intentionally make this place a stop between my last student and my therapy session. Its a little me time that I look forward to at the end of the day.

Dark chocolate cures my momentary sadness and boosts me with a sense of motivation and happiness! 

Dark chocolate cures my momentary sadness and boosts me with a sense of motivation and happiness! 

A newfound favorite with a good source of protein and happiness - Laise Corti's homemade nut butters!

A newfound favorite with a good source of protein and happiness - Laise Corti's homemade nut butters!

Everything I need for cramp relief: our comfy bed, hot compression, hot chai latte, Pinterest, and my husband who miraculously came home early from a work trip and was able to take care of me.

Everything I need for cramp relief: our comfy bed, hot compression, hot chai latte, Pinterest, and my husband who miraculously came home early from a work trip and was able to take care of me.

My latest bedside, everywhere-side read: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

My latest bedside, everywhere-side read: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.