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10 Low Waste Tips to Survive a Painful Period

Is there anything worse than a painful period? While womanhood comes with many perks and pleasures, let me be the first to say the little demon that lives in my uterus solely with the intent of making my life hell on earth once a month is not one of them. These are my low (to no) waste tips and tricks to survive that painful period for women and people who menstruate.

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Just a brief reminder here that I am not a medical professional - if you suffer from painful periods, please consult your family doctor. The tips I share below are merely lessons I have learned along the way, which I hope help to make your monthly cycle more bearable.

1) Dress in soft, loose fitting clothing.

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Comfort is EVERYTHING. Do not put your body in something that restricts your movement, puts pressure on your body (especially your tummy!), or otherwise affects your comfort. Soft, natural materials and a loose fitting garment are an absolute must.

2) A hot water bottle is your best friend.

If you don't already own one, invest in one. I always suggest looking for a second hand option first - you could look into a thrift store, or better yet, chances are there might even be someone looking to re-home one in your local Buy Nothing group!

Personally, the pain in my lower back / kidneys rivals that of my lower abdomen when it comes to period symptoms. A hot water bottle can ease some of the discomfort whether you are sitting at a desk, or laying in your bed. A little bit of heat goes a long way in easing some of that pain.

3) Enjoy a hot bath.

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Speaking of hot water... a hot bath does your achy body some serious good this time of month. Get yourself out of the fetal position for a few minutes and treat yourself to one. Start running your bath, throw in some epsom salts, add a couple drops of essential oils, and let your body soak it all in.

4) Take advantage of aromatherapy.

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Need a pick me up? Put a few drops of any citrus essential oils in your bath water or essential oil diffuser and soak in the goodness! Sweet orange is one of my favourites.

Have a headache? Apply a couple drops of peppermint essential oil to your temples, behind your ears, and on the nape of your neck. I like to use grapeseed oil as a carrier oil to dilute this potent essential oil before applying it.

Need to relax? Lavender is known to have a calming affect. Put a couple drops in your essential oil diffuser or whip up a linen spray and enjoy. Hint: this tip pairs well with tip 5!

5) Listen to an audiobook.

Photo by Ivan Samkov from Pexels

Often when I'm in the middle of a bad spell, all I want is to be distracted. When I'm in a bad state, TV often amplifies my headache and limits my comfort... watching Drag Race is just not the same when you feel like death and are in the fetal position with your neck contorted so you can see the screen, am I right?

Audio books are the perfect solution for me because I can close my eyes, focus on my breathing, and get carried away to another time and place in whichever position my body tells me is best. While there are tons of great paid audio book providers out there, did you know that you can more than likely check audio books out through your local library for free?

6) Move your body.

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I know, I know... it might be the last thing you want to do, but it will make the world of a difference for you. My two favourite physical activities when I feel like a sloth are a) to go for a brisk walk outside and breathe in some fresh air, or to b) follow a light, yin yoga practice. Do not underestimate the power of gentle stretches and light movement!

7) Stay hydrated.

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Admittedly I am not a doctor and cannot attest to whether or not drinking more water actually helps, or if it is just a placebo affect. I will say that, personally, drinking more water and herbal tea really helps me feel better.

As a reminder to stay hydrated, I keep my reusable water bottle nearby and commit to drinking it in its entirety by (x amount of time - set your own goal!). If you have a hard time drinking water, add a fresh mint sprig or lemon wedge (or both! Purchased package free, of course) to make it more appealing.

When I need a pick me up, I make myself a cup of tea. Chamomile is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, so I tend to incorporate that into my lady-time tea rotation. I don't love the taste of chamomile on its own, so I love to add fresh or dried mint as well. Create less waste by buying looseleaf rather than bagged tea, or better yet, grow and dry your own flowers and herbs!

One big reason I reach for tea more often when it's that time of month is that the simple act of pouring a cup of tea feels like self-care, and breathing in all that aromatic goodness is incredibly comforting. All in all, drinking tea helps me (the bitter, suffering, shell of a human) feel better.

8) Listen to your body.

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Unclench your jaw, roll back those shoulders, and sit up straight! Check in with yourself and see where you are carrying extra tension, and do what you can to create more space there and relax into your body. All these tiny adjustments add up, and you will be surprised at how often you catch yourself carrying all this unnecessary tension!

9) Refill your prescription... literally.

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Filling a prescription? Talk to pharmacies near you to see who can safely refill your previously used pill vile. Hot tip: do yourself a favour and put the research in before your lady-time hits.

I called several pharmacies in nearby neighbourhoods before I found one that would refill a pill bottle for me. What I learned is that (where I live) all pharmacies must use a plastic pill vile when refilling a prescription for child safety reasons; in other words, none will put your medication in anything other than a plastic pill bottle with a child-proof lid. Some are willing to reuse a vile, others are not. The pharmacies I contacted cited cross contamination, expired medication sticking to new pills, and inability to guarantee cleanliness as some of the reasons they are unable to reuse a vile.

The one pharmacy I contacted that said they would reuse a vile clarified that they will only do so if the prescription being filled is for the same person as the original bottle was for. If you are looking to reuse a plastic vile, please be sure to do your own research first and to speak to a medical professional to make an informed decision about whether or not this option is right for you.

While not all pharmacies will refill a previously used bottle for you, many participate in a recycling program - contact your local pharmacy to find out if you can bring in your empty vile in for recycling. Be sure to ask if the plastic will actually be recycled or disposed of! Some pharmacies simply collect empties to ensure proper disposal of expired medication, and do not actually recycle the container.

10) Acupuncture.

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As I mentioned earlier, I get really severe back pain with my periods. Over the years, I have tried just about everything to ease it. Being terrified of needles, it took me five-ever to work up the courage to try acupuncture. I will say, it did help ease my back pain. I will also say that my fear of needles will one hundred percent stop me from ever, ever, ever doing it again. Every body is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. While acupuncture is not a good fit for me, consulting an acupuncturist may be worth a shot for you!

I have curated this collection of tips and tricks which I have found to be incredibly helpful in managing my own period pain, and I do hope you find it to be helpful too! What other low-waste tips do you have for getting through a painful period? Are there any must-have survival items on your list? I'd love to hear what works for you!

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