I’m sure we’re all take charge women who love checking things off our to-do lists, kicking butt, and taking names. But some days of the month are harder than others to be the productive women we strive to be. For many of us, getting our periods can throw us off our A-game at work. It’s hard to get stuff done while feeling both hot and cold (or is that just me?).
Many years ago I read the book The Red Tent. It tells the story of Jacob and his sons from the perspective of Diana, his daughter. Diana explains that while the women were menstruating they were not allowed to work. It was a time when they gathered and rested. I’m not sure how historically accurate the book is, however I appreciate the description of a time when women came together for a time of rest and sisterhood. For me, it’s a reminder to slow down during my period, even in the midst of our 21st century busyness.
Every woman’s cycle is different, of course. I know a woman who never had a menstrual cramp until she went into labor with her first child (what is that like?). For others, it’s a mild inconvenience. For others like me, it’s a pill-popping bonanza. I have endometriosis. For the uninitiated, it’s a condition where the cells that line the uterus somehow end up in other parts of the body, usually the pelvic cavity. However, they act as if they’re still in the womb, growing and shedding blood. Since that blood has nowhere to go it forms clots. This can lead to very painful periods. Some months are better than others, but Day 2 is usually my most painful day with heavy flow.
Most Day 2’s I feel well enough to go to work, but it’s a struggle to be my productive self. Here are some tips to help me manage the low energy that the time of the month can bring.
Focus on the Most Important Things (MITs)
Before you take off running, sit down with your tea and hot water bottle and think about what, if anything, must get done that day. In the Weekly Organizer, there is a section for MITs, the top three things that need to be accomplished that day. That, dear friends, is your focus.
Work in the sweet spots
Ah, the sweet spot. The magical time when the pain medication kicks in and you’re back to your regular, cheerful self. Use that block of time to focus on your most important tasks that your outlined earlier that day. When the meds start to wear off, switch to a task that doesn’t require much physical or mental exhaustion. The key is the press forward, but don’t overdo it. Which leads to…
Take it Easy
As much as possible, try to lighten your day. If you can reschedule your meetings, do it. If you need to cancel and after work appointment, cancel without guilt. Make sure you practice at work self-care. Have a cup or three of herbal tea. My favorites are ginger, peppermint and chamomile. Take a whiff of lavender essential oil. Sometimes, the pain can get so intense, I just need to close my eyes for 10-15 minutes. If you don’t have a private office – I sure don’t – scope out conference rooms, supply closets, even the lactation room, if you’re lucky to have one, for a quick shut eye. A personal time-out can do a lot to help you get through the work day.
What about you? How do you stay productive when all you want to do is to curl up in your sweats? Let me know!