That time of the month: turning your period into just a comma

Menstruation is a crummy time of the month. For moms and wives, it's especially bad. Helpful tips to downplay your menstruation symptoms.

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  • Aunt Flo is a terrible houseguest, especially because the rest of your family needs to be taken care of while she's around. What's a girl to do? Your family relies on your leadership and emotional support, even on days when your emotional rollercoaster and cramps make you no fun to be around. It's not pretty, and weepiness, anger and neglect can even be hurtful to your loved ones.

  • So what do you do to cope? I consulted 15 of my friends who ranged from new wives in their early 20s to young grandmothers still raising their teenagers. No matter the life situation of these wise women, certain tips kept coming up, and I'm here to share those with you.

  • Eat a sweet treat

  • Almost 1/3 of the women I spoke with recommended chocolate. With phenylethylamine, theobromine and caffeine, chocolate is a veritable cocktail of PMS relief. I'm not saying you should go overboard and eat your feelings all the time. I'm just suggesting that saving some sort of special treat (like a square of quality dark chocolate) for times when you really need a pick-me-up could help you to get your family through Aunt Flo's monthly visit.

  • Get plenty of sleep

  • I am one grumpy lady if I don't sleep for about nine hours almost every night. Sometimes life gets hectic and I put my beauty sleep on the back burner, but my husband and I have agreed that it is notOK for me to do that when I'm on my period. The waves of hormones plus the dark clouds of sleep deprivation make for a perfect storm of Crazy Wife. So, even though you might hate popping your kids in front of the TV or ditching them with a friend, clearing some space in your life for a nap might be the best thing you can do for them.

  • Exercise

  • I have one friend who swears by yoga as a way to relieve her menstruation symptoms. She says that the deep stretching helps with her cramps and certain poses even help with the PMS blues. While neither she nor I claim to be health experts, this sounds like it's worth a shot! Also, keep in mind that regular exercise throughout the month helps your body to stay healthy and balanced in general, which can also make your period a little easier to bear.

  • Find ways to connect with your spouse

  • While your honey may prefer to steer clear of you as much as possible, he can actually make a huge difference in your wellbeing. My husband is so sweet about letting me snuggle with him when I don't feel well, even if that means that the dishes don't get done for a while. We also try to have open conversations about our expectations for each other, even if it's admitting that I am going to be whiny for a few days and could really use his patience.

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  • Supplements

  • I caution against choosing a supplement without professional guidance, but you may be surprised the things that end up helping you. One friend says that if she eats tofu throughout the month, her PMS symptoms are much less severe. Another says red raspberry capsules make her feel much better. Finding the right remedy may take a little experimenting, but if it makes a difference, your family will surely thank you.

  • Pain relievers

  • Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are such obvious choices that I sometimes overlook them. I'm always amazed, however, that I can banish the nightmarish cramps I get on day two with just a glass of water and a couple of pills. If you prefer to avoid medication and would still like to be functional, you might also consider a heated rice bag. Just pour white rice into a large sock, tie the top of the sock in a knot, and throw it in the microwave for a few minutes. Apply it to your abdomen, back or even to those tense shoulders. You'll feel much better soon.

  • And there you have it. Whether you turn to chocolate, exercise, or supplements, I hope you've found a few new ideas to help you take care of your family andyourself this month.

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Sara Hagmann is a stay-at-home wife and writer who loves traveling, cooking, and kissing her husband. A lot.

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