Periods can bring about a host of symptoms that can be hard to manage. While most people are aware of popular remedies for period symptoms like diets, medication and exercises, a lesser-known activity that is touted as helpful during periods is meditation!
While it’s not a miraculous solution for period symptoms, it’s definitely worth a shot. In fact, a particular study published in the journal Mindfulness found a connection between meditation and a shift in attitude towards period pain, having a potential impact on its severity as a result.
Sounds interesting? Let’s find out more about it! But first, let’s take a look at what meditation actually is.
What is meditation?
Meditation is a body-mind technique that entails focusing one's attention on a certain moment, a thought, an experience, or a state of mind. The practice has its roots traced as far back as 5,000 BCE! There are many different types of meditation and some of them are:
- Mindfulness meditation
- Qi Gong
- Breathing exercises
- Guided meditations
Meditation helps the practitioner develop nonjudgmental awareness of his or her current emotional and physical state. It's a chance to hone your awareness skills and get a healthy sense of perspective.
Many people assume that the purpose of meditation is to eliminate all thoughts, and although this may be true for some, you don't have to pursue absolute enlightenment to benefit from it. It's simply a matter of learning to observe ideas without criticising or allowing them to become obsessions.
How does stress affect your cycle?
High levels of perceived daily stress, defined as difficulties that test or surpass an individual's ability to cope, are linked to reduced luteinizing hormone (LH), estrogen, and progesterone levels, as well as greater levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
Increased rates of anovulation (when no egg is released during a cycle) were also linked to high levels of daily stress. High levels of daily stress, despite these hormonal alterations, were not linked to changes in menstrual cycle duration or the amount of blood loss during a period.
Stress has also been linked to decreased fertility and the development of dysmenorrhea, a condition in which a woman's periods are painful, which is twice as common in women who are under a lot of stress. The study discovered that high levels of stress during the previous month's follicular phase were linked to dysmenorrhea more than at other stages of the cycle.
Meditation is a great way to reduce period symptoms
Meditation has been shown in scientific studies to generate both physical and emotional changes in the body, tackling stress-related mental health symptoms such as anxiety and depression in individuals.
Meditation has been shown to help people with severe PMS improve their mental and physical symptoms. According to studies, people who meditated improved their abilities to handle discomfort and had less pain and cramping.
Meditation during your period, in addition to any prescription drugs that may help reduce your PMS symptoms, can greatly help with pain and other PMS-related discomforts. Meditation can relieve bloating caused by water retention during menstruation, as well as menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.
According to a research article, meditation can also help you sleep better. Because periods impair sleep, and lack of sleep can contribute to PMS, enhancing sleep via meditation may be beneficial. Meditation has been shown to lower anxiety in people with anxiety disorders, so if this is something you're dealing with as a result of PMS, a meditation practice might help.
Finally, studies have shown that meditation can help with depression symptoms and that it can be used to enhance current depression treatments. Check-in with yourself on a regular basis using a meditation practice to discover how your body and mind feel at different stages of your cycle.
How do you meditate?
You will find a lot of resources on the internet to kickstart your mindfulness and meditation journey. But, here’s a basic overview to help you get started with meditation.
- Take a seat somewhere peaceful and comfy, and you can either sit in the traditional cross-legged posture or simply on your bed or a chair.
- Set a timer on your phone for the amount of time you want to attempt it - 10 minutes is a good place to start.
- Focus on your breath as you start the timer, feeling it draw in and out as you follow it and observe how it flows.
- Bring your focus back to your breath without judgement whenever your mind wanders, and utilise your breath as an anchor throughout your practice.
- When the timer goes off, don't get up right away as this will come as a shock to your body. Softly open your eyes, take deep breaths, and note how your body and mind feel before you end the session.
What if you can’t meditate?
If you’ve given traditional meditation a try and simply think it’s not your cup of tea, you have plenty of other options to try as a remedy for your period symptoms. Yoga is a great place to start if you’re looking to calm your mind and reduce your cramps, but meditation just isn’t right for you.
Just keep an open mind and try different resources if one doesn’t seem right for you. If you find it difficult to meditate on your own, try the different meditation apps or videos to help you with guided meditation. Just be patient, and if you still don’t like it, find something else that works for you.