by Jessica Felicite April 08, 2022
Let’s talk about sustainable period wellness. This is a complicated topic as it can bring up a range of emotions. From agonizing cramps to severe mood changes, this can be an isolating and confusing time. Our periods can change with the seasons and circumstances of our lives but on a large scale, the period conversation has felt unchanging as it has been shaped in limiting and exclusionary ways. In that sense, it is important to continue shifting and expanding the conversation around menstruation and to consider the value of applying a more intersectional lens to the conversation to ensure period equity for all. And then we zoom back in on the personal, resisting limited narratives also creates more space for our unique, personal experiences.
This is where mindfulness plays an important role. Mindfulness is essentially about awareness. When we drop into an awareness of our individual cycle, we get to know ourselves better and can offer ourselves personalized and holistic care. What works for one bleeding body may not work for you. However, the shared goal of sustainable period wellness is to help us improve our experiences within our bodies and our environment.
That’s why we lovingly curated this list of suggestions for beginning or continuing, a journey of mindful menstruation.
By now, you’ve probably already heard of the DivaCup. Established in 2003, this company is a certified B Corporation that provides an alternative product that will benefit both you and the Earth. According to the Global News, “over the course of a lifetime, a person who menstruates is predicted to throw away roughly 400 pounds of packaging from these products, and those harmful plastics often end up in landfills, sewer systems and waterways.”
The DivaCup is a reliable and reusable option for those who are interested in making their menstrual care routine a little more eco-friendly. Here’s how it works: the DivaCup is a small, flexible bell-shaped device (made of silicone or rubber) that aims to collect menstrual fluid. The cup easily holds more blood than other options, such as tampons, and depending on your flow, you can wear it for up to 12 consecutive hours. Empty, wash and rinse your DivaCup 2-3 times within a 24-hour window and you are good to go. Boiling your cup is another way to ensure cleanliness in between cycles. Check out their official FAQ for an excellent and transparent breakdown on do’s, don’ts and everything in between to see if this is the right option for you.
Looking for built-in protection that will bring you peace of mind throughout busy days or days when you are just having a hard time getting out of bed? Period underwear is another game-changing product that minimizes the waste that can accumulate when using pads and tampons while also bringing a sense of intentionality around your cycle. Varying brands promise that you can wear your period underwear comfortably without the support of other menstrual products, depending on your flow and its heaviness. You can shop many different styles, from boxer briefs to high-waisted leak-free overnighters. The brands Knix and REVOL Undies are two excellent Canadian brands and options for shopping for your first pair of absorbent period underwear.
Menstrual cloth pads are equally as safe and reliable as disposable pads. I was surprised to learn that the plastic in traditional pads and tampons can often interact with our blood in a way that creates unwanted odor. Minimize this risk by ditching the disposable. This is a great option for those with a little extra time to spare in hand washing the cloth pads in between bleeds and usage. If you are hesitant about how this option will work for your flow, check out the Matchmaker Quiz from Aisle, a company that has been one of the key champions of modern reusable products for close to 30 years.
ORGANIC PADS & TAMPONS
If disposable doesn’t feel right for you but you are still interested in eco-friendly alternatives, meet joni! The brand recognizes that it can be overwhelming to shop the period care aisle. It is easy to feel inundated with “antiquated messaging that just doesn't resonate,” and confused by products that list “ingredients you can't pronounce.” By valuing transparency and accessibility, this brand has found a way to offer a range of products that are safe, organic and easily available by offering free shipping Canada-wide. Recyclable packaging, organic bamboo and Health Canada approved cotton are staples of their inventory. They carry liners for a lighter flow and options for day and night bleeding, including pads and tampons, that will bring you comfort and ease. Free of chemicals, fragrance and chlorine, the simplicity of their products is an asset when compared to products that may overwhelm us during our tender time of bleeding.
Another thing that we love about joni is how they center period equity in their mission and aim to empower all menstruators. For example, they acknowledge how exclusionary it can be when period products have hyper-feminine branding of period products that do not resonate with all menstruators. Another example is their use of a free-shipping model so that all Canadians can access their line without worrying about high shipping costs. Their effort in holding space for users of all experiences, and so much more, makes them a top choice for us, especially for those who aren’t too keen on the reusable but still want to implement something new and intentional to their period care routine. And it always brings us joy to support a brand that is centered around active and meaningful inclusion!
Tracking your period will help you gain a deeper understanding of your body. Documenting information about your body may feel tedious but slowly, you may start noticing patterns that will help you take better care of yourself. It also may help bring attention to any irregularities. This will also help you share information with a medical professional/specialist when checking in about your general health. And don’t forget consistency matters. The more information you provide, the better the app will be in helping you become aware of your cycle and its flow.
Clue is an amazing app for those who are interested in tracking their period and having a more intimate and transparent relationship to their bodies. The team behind this useful app has found a way to shift the conversation about menstrual and reproductive health on a global scale. With science-based content backed by reproductive healthcare clinicians and science writers, their platform also offers reliable information about health, periods and sex. Available in 15 languages and concerned with thinking about menstruation along the axes of gender, age, race, ethnicity, accessibility, education, country of origin, and socioeconomic status, this app is laying the bricks for more nuanced conversations. Aesthetically, the design of the app is clean and does not rely on traditional branding. It is super user friendly and minimal, making it easy to navigate.
The app will ask you varying questions to gauge your cycle from the beginning but its accuracy will increase as you input more information. Clue will begin to send you reminders around things such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and birth control so that you can start to shape your life around this information. It also provides you in-depth descriptions around health which will help you understand how your body functions in general, leaving you feeling empowered, capable and aligned with the happenings of your body beyond your bleed. To become a more informed and in-tune menstruator, try Clue. It is free on Android and iOS, with options to join a paid subscription that grants you access to more period predictions.
MINDFUL MENSTRUATION JOURNAL
If you prefer a more engaging approach, you can create your own spreadsheet and/or reserve pages (or a whole journal!) for your own personalized rendition of a period tracker. This may give you the opportunity to create an intentional space for sitting down and reflecting on your cycle. If you are having trouble promoting this reflection, check out the Period Power Deck. Author and women’s health practitioner Maisie Hill shares her cycle strategy through 28 cards to help emphasize the connections between our experiences and the emotions we experience during our cycle. Beautifully designed and thoughtfully crafted, this deck may help inspire your journaling journey.
This pen-to-paper method will help you cultivate more self-knowledge and center yourself in your daily life. It is easy to shift into autopilot, often forgetting to tend to our bodies in a gentle and consistent way. Taking some time, on a weekly or daily basis, to reflect on what’s happening internally is a self-care practice with long-term benefits.
Approach your period with a sense of mindfulness by integrating one of these suggestions into your care routine. Beyond the material, checking in with your body is extremely important especially when the days start to blur and it is easy to forget that the internal often reflects the external. The information that our body provides us can help inform letting go or introducing long-term solutions that will improve our period experiences and general wellbeing.
For me, a large part of undoing internalized period stigma was fully and non-judgmentally recognizing the pain I was experiencing and being transparent about requiring a little extra care during these times. It is easy to feel that the universality of menstruation makes it so that we cannot speak out when our menstruation experience is difficult or not reflected in the representations that we see in the media or around us. Let’s follow those who have been leading the way into more expansive dialogues by empowering ourselves to slow down and be actionable about integrating mindfulness into our menstrual experiences.
Don’t forget that this month, we are participating in The Personal Care Bank’s donation drive to make personal care items accessible to all. All month long, we will be accepting donations at our Roncy and Leslieville locations, including menstrual products. Access to menstrual products is a necessity. All menstruators deserve access to period products that will help them. We also encourage you to check out and support the work of Twelve Donations, “free customizable service that provides menstrual products to shelters, organizations, and the individuals who need them.”
What are the pillars of your period care routine? Do you have any recommendations for period trackers or tools that have helped improve your experience? We’d love to hear from you!
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