Every woman knows her menstrual cycle is a natural process that enables her to create life and maintain a healthy reproductive system. However, the side effects of this cycle can be inconvenient and downright painful. Be that as it may, you don’t have to suffer through the pain without some relief. Here are 3 simple and natural ways to mitigate the uncomfortable symptoms of your menstrual cycle.

  1. Apply Heat

Warming up the contracting muscles in your uterus is crucial to relieving the pain in your abdomen. For quick relief, run a warm bath. You can also add essential oils like lavender or peppermint, as well as Epsom salts for even more relaxation and pain alleviation. For an all-day remedy, try a heating pad. You may have a compress lying around the house that you can freeze or heat, but I find electric heating pads to be the best solution for constant relief. Instead of reheating your compress every few minutes, putting strain on your body over and over again, just plug in the heating pad and flip the switch for a consistent flow of warmth.

  1. Get Active

Trust me, I get it. The last thing us women want to do when we’re in pain is engage in physical activity. But light exercise and stretching can actually release endorphins and loosen your contracting muscles. Reduce your pain with a brief walk, swim, or some gentle stretching. Various stretches and yoga-like poses can be found online. Try some different positions to find what brings you the most relief. Not only can this reduce your pain, but it may also restore peace and calming. Consistently exercising throughout the month can also lessen the pain you experience during your menstrual cycle. Invest in your long-term health by exercising for 30 minutes a few times a week and experience further relief. If you’re struggling to get some sleep due to the pain, try propping yourself up with pillows. Finally, various pressure points may relieve tension, which can also be found online.

  1. Try Natural Pain Remedies

If you’re looking for an alternative to synthetic pain medications, try essential oils like lavender or peppermint. Stay hydrated with water and water-rich fruits and vegetables to reduce bloating and discomfort. Peppermint and herbal teas may also be soothing to the body. However, avoiding caffeine, processed foods, alcohol, and soda can be effective ways to decrease bloating, cramping, and discomfort. Maintaining a well-balanced diet all month long can also reduce uncomfortable symptoms throughout your menstrual cycle. Eat regularly throughout the day, whether you snack or enjoy a full meal, to avoid increased irritability. Exchanging saturated fats for healthier, unsaturated fats can also nourish the body. Healthier fats can be found in foods like olive oil, fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. Fatty foods to avoid are animal products, especially dairy, which can increase bloating and discomfort. If you do consume dairy, though, opting for a low-fat or fat-free product is a good option. Fish oil or vitamin B1 supplements may also be a good way to increase your healthy fat intake. Of course, you should always consult with your doctor to determine what methods are best suited to you, especially if you have preexisting conditions or take medication.

Extra tip: If you don’t have one already, get a free period tracking app on your phone. This will help you predict when your next cycle will start, allowing you to take preventative measures, such as making or canceling certain plans in advance, packing emergency supplies, and stopping the pain before it starts.

The holidays can be the most joyful and the most stressful time of year. With all of the office parties, family get-togethers, community activities, and delicious treats available to enjoy this holiday season, it’s important to keep you and your family healthy. Take care this season with some of these tips.

Avoid Illness

With many people contracting illnesses this time of year, remember to wash your hands often. When you’re on the go, carry hand sanitizer or wipes with you. Check the weather before leaving the house and bundle up in easy to discard layers. You can also keep some extra clothes handy in your bag or car for easy access. Another great way to stay healthy during the hectic holiday season is through sleep. Rejuvenate your mind and body with an adequate amount of rest. Staying physically active throughout the week and staying hydrated with plenty of water will also promote your health during the business of the season. Also, be aware of your children’s health. Illness passes all too easily through families once a child is sick. Keep their immune systems strong with vitamins and healthy foods, and stay vigilant in order to catch any signs of illness quickly.

Feed Your Immune System

The best way to manage illness is to prevent it! Make sure you’re taking your daily dose of Vitamin C to ward off any viruses. Another way to protect your body from illness is through eating right. Maintain a healthy and balanced diet for more energy and strength. Although there are many delicious treats to enjoy during the holidays, practicing moderation and indulging wisely will allow you to still enjoy the holiday delicacies and maintain your physical health. If you’re looking to save money and calories, consider packing a lunch and/or snacks in advance when you plan to be out for long periods of time. Also, be wary of undercooked foods. Food preparation safety is key when cooking for yourself and others during the holiday season.

Keep Your Mind Sharp

Keep your mind healthy in the midst of the busy holidays by actively managing stress. There’s bound to be a lot going on this time of year – gifts to purchase and wrap, events to host, parties to attend, food to cook… Although stressful moments are bound to happen, choose to take them with a grain of salt and keep a positive outlook. (Vitamin D is a great way to boost your mood naturally!) This is supposed to be a joyful time of year, so do your best to accomplish your tasks, manage your time wisely, make an organized to do list, and delegate when possible. Ultimately, remember you’re only one person. As long as everyone is enjoying this time of year, the details aren’t too important.

Limit the Social Media Consumption

With the proliferation of digital media, it seems everyone’s life is picture-perfect while your days are messy, overwhelming, hectic, and challenging. Although social media platforms were meant to connect us with one another, they can make us feel lonelier than ever. Remember this season that everyone on social media is just like you. They are all putting the best versions of themselves on display, as do you on your own social media profiles. If you’re still feeling discouraged, consider closing your laptop or exiting your mobile app and just live in the moment. They’ll be there when you return.

Travel Safely

Many people are on the road running errands, attending events, and traveling to visit loved ones. When driving, be aware of any road hazards, especially adverse weather conditions. When in doubt, slow down. You may be in a rush to reach your destination, but it’ll take you a lot longer to get there when you’re stopped by a traffic ticket or an accident. Instead, prepare ahead of time by tracking road conditions on a mobile app and leave a little earlier than you normally would. If you decide to indulge in an alcoholic drink or two, designate a driver in advance or call for a ride. It’s not worth ruining the holidays for yourself or anyone else on the road.

Be Wary of Household Hazards

Cooking, baking, and warming up by the fireplace are lovely ways to enjoy the holiday season. However, they also pose possible risks. Turn off appliances when you’re done using them and don’t fall asleep with the fireplace on. Another safety tip is to be careful while decorating. Many holiday injuries occur due to accidents around the house. Use a reliable ladder, get someone to help you, take your time, and thoroughly clean up after any shattered glass bulbs or other broken items.

Get in the Holiday Spirit

Finally, take a few moments to remember what the holiday season is really about. Sometimes family traditions consume our schedules to the point of forgetting why we’re doing them in the first place. In the midst of the rush, the errands, and the obligations, remember that this is a time to be grateful for what you have, to give generously, and to spend time with the people you love. Cook dinner and bake desserts together as a family. Take it easy. Enjoy a Christmas movie and hot cocoa by the fire. Walk around a local neighborhood to look at the lights. There’s so much to enjoy about the season, so don’t let that opportunity pass you by.

It was summer. I had plenty of free time and wanted to spend it with someone I cared about. I’d been single for a year. He was a handsome gentleman with similar interests and values. We had engaging conversations and many moments of laughter. I felt special and cared for.

But I cried myself to sleep most nights. I didn’t tell my friends about all of the moments I felt stupid, unworthy, selfish, beat down, and unlovable. I didn’t want them to know how much money I had lent him or the fact that I was expected to pay for both of us during nearly all of our dates.

But he was down on his luck. He was a hard worker. He just needed that big break, right?

Somehow we always seemed to be in the midst of a fight, and I was always the one begging for forgiveness even when I felt like I did nothing wrong. He called me stupid. I knew he thought I was intelligent. I just did a dumb thing that angered him. I mean, I didn’t know it would trigger that response, but I vowed to be better next time. Except I was never better next time. Little things seemed to set him off so easily and frequently. One moment he was happy as a clam, and the next we were on the brink of breaking up. It was always my fault, though. I should have known better. At least, that’s what I told myself.

I was emotionally crippled. Why was I so scared to lose him when I always felt so miserable inside?

Because he made me feel like I was the problem.

But I wasn’t the problem. He was.

As much as I hate to admit it, I was emotionally abused by a person I believed cared for me. And maybe part of him did, but another part of him was too selfish to realize that his behavior was destructive, not only to me and our relationship but to himself. I wanted to save him from the chemical imbalances and bad habits that afflicted him, but I was only lying to myself and I got hurt in the process.

Enabling bad behavior under the guise of compassion is not helpful to anyone. If you’re like me, you’re a fixer. You enjoy helping those around you because you care about them. But sometimes that mindset attracts broken people who are subconsciously set on imparting their misery onto you. A man cannot save you, and you cannot save a man.

If you’re feeling manipulated, coerced, demeaned, constantly blamed, resented for being successful, and/or physically harmed, you may be in an abusive relationship.

Emotional abusers may…
• Attempt to control various aspects of your life or silence you
• Isolate you from friends and family members
• Accuse you of being unfaithful
• Withhold affection or communication as a punishment
• Display unstable or erratic behavior, such as mood swings and losing control to rage
• Intimidate you or people around you
• Assert physical control or force
• Threaten to hurt you, themselves, or others
• Threaten to leave you
• Frequently demean you, especially with name calling
• Take no responsibility for their own actions and never apologize
• Divert blame towards you, other people, or external factors for their circumstances/behavior
• Make you feel like you’re crazy, problematic, unintelligent, and/or actively seeking conflict

Although anyone can make a mistake and display one of these negative behaviors or traits from time to time, abuse is different because it is frequent. You know you’re in the midst of an abusive relationship when you read the points above and get a sinking feeling in your stomach as a little voice in your head says, “That’s me. That’s what I’m going through. That’s what he does.” Even if you attempt to make excuses or refuse to admit it, you’ll know deep inside that it’s true.

Before, I didn’t believe emotional abuse was a real thing. I didn’t think women would actually allow themselves to be so mistreated by a man. I would never put myself in such a situation, let alone want to stay. I thought myself stronger than that. But I was wrong. As women, we have tremendous compassion, patience, and tolerance for the people we care about. We often put their needs and interests ahead of our own.

But you shouldn’t gift your love, attention, and trust to someone who hasn’t earned them.

You are beautiful. You are valuable. You are strong. You are intelligent. You are capable. You possess unique qualities that the right man will cherish. A man who truly loves you will come alongside you as a partner in life. He will lift you up, support you, and encourage you.

Maybe you don’t feel that way right now. Maybe you feel like you’ll never find someone better. Maybe you’re thinking, “If only this changed… If only I were better… If only he got the help he needs…”

Please listen to me when I say you deserve so much better.

You don’t deserve to feel beaten down, broken, and lesser. You don’t deserve to feel like you’re the problem when you know in your heart and mind that you’ve done the best you can. You don’t deserve to feel like you’re constantly walking on eggshells just to keep the person you care for appeased. Maybe that person will change in the future, but they need to find the self-awareness, desire, and willingness to do so on their own.

I urge you to leave any relationship you suspect to be emotionally abusive. Talk to your friends and family members. They truly love you and have your best interest at heart. Find a counselor, pastor, mentor, or other life advisor to help you see the red flags you’ve been ignoring. It’s important that you seek help in getting out of an abusive relationship safely, especially if you feel threatened in any way.

I wish I had recognized the warning signs sooner. From all accounts, that man is still the same person he was when I left a few months ago. I now understand that things wouldn’t have changed if I had stayed. He refused to recognize his abusive and self-destructive tendencies. And I will always hold the emotional scars from it. But please allow me to use my story to help you if you are experiencing anything similar to what I did. Ultimately, when you take time to heal and value yourself as you deserve, the right people will come into your life. They certainly have for me.

Feeling stressed? Regain some peace of mind with these simple tips.
Life is filled with various stressors. Women in particular often take on many responsibilities in their families, careers, and communities. These demands can lead to feeling stressed? Regain some peace of mind with these simple tips.

is filled with various stressors. Women in particular often take on many responsibilities in their families, careers, and communities. These demands can lead to elevated breathing and heart rate, chronic stress, and unhealthy coping mechanisms, harming our physical and emotional wellbeing in both the short and long term.

Addressing stress immediately is essential to stopping it. The sooner you identify the source, the easier it is to recover. A healthy mind is key to a healthy body. So take a breath, and consider implementing one of these tips into your weekly routine.

1. It’s okay to say “I’m not fine.”
Women tend to find emotional relief in sharing their feelings and experiences with others. Social support is essential to a woman’s sense of validation and peace. Next time a trusted friend or beloved family member asks how you’re doing, it’s okay to be honest. Whether you need advice, a good cry, or just an opportunity to talk it out, getting those negative feelings off of your chest can bring tremendous relief.

2. It’s okay to say, “no.”
It can be difficult to reject someone’s plea for help, especially when the request comes from a friend, family member, or coworker. But you can only stretch yourself so thin. Remember, it’s the quality of what you do that matters, not the quantity. Realistically evaluate your time constraints and pending tasks before accepting a new responsibility. It’s in everyone’s best interest, including your own, to only take on what you can handle.

3. It’s okay to take some time for yourself.
Everyone needs a break, whether it’s 20 minutes, a few hours, or a day off. If you’re strapped for time, consider taking a brisk walk, making sure you’re hydrated with a refreshing glass of water, or watching a funny video to relieve some frustration. If you have a bit more time available, take a warm bath with Epsom salts and relaxing music to rid yourself of tension. Escape with a massage or a movie. Whether you choose to exercise, journal, get a spa treatment, plan a night out, or enjoy a hobby – find what you enjoy and do it. Taking a break is a proven way to refresh your mind and body for increased productivity.

4. It’s okay to invest in rest.
Feeling groggy can really weigh you down during the most crucial and busiest times of your day. Take a 20-minute power nap for a quick pick-me-up. Or turn in early and start the next day sooner than normal. Your mind and body need sleep in order to be sharper, quicker, and more efficient. Scientifically speaking, your brain needs sleep to clear out toxins. So invest in your health and wellbeing by getting those 7-9 hours of sleep at night and taking a nap when you feel too sleepy to continue with your day.

5. It’s okay to take some time to plan ahead.
Prioritize and organize your life for a clearer mind and more productive day. The first way to implement this is by getting a daily planner. Write down all of your obligations ahead of time to better establish how much time you have and what more you can take on. Keep “to do” and grocery lists in your phone so you can quickly document ideas before you forget them. Other ways to improve your daily efficiency include choosing your clothes in the evening for the next day, prepping your meals for the week, and packing your bags and vehicle the night before work, meetings, classes, events, etc.

6. It’s okay to unplug.
Digital media is undeniably pervasive in all of our lives. There seems to be a screen everywhere we turn. Although they can be hard to avoid, consider personally unplugging for an hour or even a day. Turn off the news, take a social media sabbatical, or plug your phone in for a charge and walk away. Use this time to read a book, visit a friend, run an errand, or enjoy the fresh air outside and soak in some vitamin D. Your devices will be there when you return.

7. It’s okay to practice a bit of self-discipline.
When feeling pressured, it’s crucial to avoid unhealthy habits and coping mechanisms, especially when it comes to what you put in your body. Increasing your intake of water, fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods can improve your energy levels and productivity. Take 30 minutes to exercise a few times a week and enjoy the rush of endorphins to power your next activity. When faced with that one task you’ve been dreading, tackle it head on and get it over with so you no longer have to worry about it. And even when it doesn’t come naturally, choose an attitude of gratitude. When you change your outlook with a few simple, positive thoughts, you’ll notice a remarkable change in your joy and motivation.

Although stress is a normal part of life, you don’t have to accept it. A positive state of mind can lead to a more productive, happy, and fulfilling life. With a few simple lifestyle choices and adjustments, you can considerably reduce the effects of stress in your life.
evated breathing and heart rate, chronic stress, and unhealthy coping mechanisms, harming our physical and emotional wellbeing in both the short and long term.

In our blogs we speak of healthy strong women taking control of their lives.  Living a life that allows intoxicants, superficial values, un-enlightened entertainment and unhealthy relationships is not living from a position of strength but of dependency and irresponsibility.  The article linked says as much about contraception.

Too often living dependent on things outside of our personal dominion is taking a big risk.  When we drink too much alcohol or take drugs we might think we are funnier, smarter or whatever the case may be.  Yet the reality is we have surrendered our self-control to intoxicants.  It is an escape from reality.

Using contraception is an escape from healthy living – it introduces chemicals and hormones into our bodies that have serious side-effects.  It is also an escape from responsibility.  Taking contraception gives us false comfort that one can have sex with zero consequences. That is always incorrect no matter if the contraception works or fails.  Sex is a big deal.

This article show both a medical and sociological effect of birth control that simply shows that yes sex is not a recreation.  “The data already indicate that even with contraceptives that act less like temporary sterilization (which is how LARCs act) we get a “sex and marriage market” in which sex becomes the price of a relationship and marriage is off the horizon even when there is an unexpected pregnancy. Women (especially poor women) become immiserated in particular. They have more unintended pregnancies, more abortions, and become single mothers or post-aborted mothers far more often.”

Read about long acting contraceptives in this fact sheet

Living a healthy life is hard work. It requires taking time to educate yourself, overcome the easy way out on lifestyle and diet, good relationship choices – or if you are even ready to have a relationship, and much more.

Marijuana has grown popular in today’s generation in spite of warnings and the many unknowns.  Just in the past few days researches found that marijuana causes your brain to age faster, that there is a link to schizophrenia and a host of other maladies.  In other words, it seems that smoking it is a big deal.

This article gives you the tips you need to be healthy especially if you might be pregnant or are sexually active.

Some takeaways: “Accidental pregnancies happen, and if someone is using drugs in the weeks before they know they’re pregnant, that could cause problems for a fetus in its most critical stages..”  and “Breast-feeding moms should avoid marijuana use, because THC, along with some other potentially psychoactive compounds in pot, gets into breast milk”.

 

Slow down. Think for Yourself. Turn the media onslaught off!  Guaranteed if you open a major website like MSN you will find a story about the royal family – every day and with nothing to say, just blah blah.  Guaranteed if you go to a pop culture or lifestyle website or TV show like ET you will find endless stories of celebrities, mostly bad relationships and an array of basically useless information. Here is a random example of a “who cares” story that bombards us endlessly.

Slow down and turn the crap off.  Websites, Movies, Reality TV and really all sorts of media outlets, websites and magazines exert a big influence on our lives – if we let them.  It is kind of weird actually – it almost seems they want us to believe a certain way or even we must…! It is a bit scary.

Take control of your life and you’ll successfully avoid bad situations or bad friends.

Yet, we are what we eat! That goes for media consumption too. So, when it comes to the most important things in life, are we creating down time to reflect and even pray about what is really, truly good for the long term. For example, relationships are a big part of pop culture news. Who is with who. Who cheated on who etc. Should we really get involved and flood our senses with this stuff? It is really sort of misleading and depressing. We have a higher calling.

Be strong and think for yourself.

Never be that consumer who consumes whatever is put in front of you. Group think and being “up to speed” on things is not important for the big picture. What is important is finding values and truths for a long-term and successful life and good relationships.

Besides who needs the mass media endlessly telling me what I should like?! I know what is best for me and it isn’t pointless stories, the next best trinket etc. Everyone eventually must find something more, deeper.  This exercise of searching for meaning and truth and lasting values is the best way to avoid bad situations. So stop, turn off media, think, avoid bad situations and find happiness.

Knowing yourself is more than half the battle.  It will help you know more about your relationship attachment style – key to happy living.

The ancient Greeks came to realize that before you can successfully engage the world, a sense of self and what makes you tick is key to future happiness. “Know thyself”.

Before engaging in any relationship this is good advice!

How do you see yourself before others, friends, acquaintances and those of the opposite sex.

For the Greeks, “know thyself” was an admonition to know your place before the gods so as not to presume too much.  It was also a way to take on too much; “how can I know other things before I know what I am about”.

It should give us pause then to analyze what our motivations and goals are.  What do I want in life – even before I enter into a close relationship?  Is this relationship and becoming close, even intimate, correspond to what my goals are, who I am?

Importantly, how do I attach myself to things and other people and why? My past has clues as to how you cling to things and others.  Men are different from women in why they form relationships.

So how do I attach to people and why?  Is it ok to try and fill a void without thinking of these things?

With this mature approach to life, sexual relationships can be put in a better context.  A calm reflection will help each to see that sex is really a long-term type of commitment, not to be taken lightly.

Read more here.

I know many people who are adult children of divorce and refuse to have children. One of the most common excuses is “My parents’ divorce caused a lot of heartache and I don’t want to risk putting my own children through the same thing”. It’s as if they are expecting their own marriages to fail because their parents’ did.

I can see why this would be a fear, but your parents’ failures do not have to be yours. My parents divorced when my brother and I were young and it caused unimaginable pain. In fact, it still does. This experience made me decide that I never wanted to cause my own family this pain. I wanted to prove to myself, and to others, that I can be better than my parents. To this day, after having five children, I don’t regret this decision.

I will be honest: the pain I felt from my parents’ divorce has affected the way I parent, some good and some not so good. I work hard every day to be better. But my kids are happy. My wife and I are happy. My brother and his family are happy. I can’t ever imagine not having my children. To be honest, I don’t think my life would be as fulfilling if I never had kids.

If you are pregnant and considering abortion because you are worried your marriage may fail, you are not alone. The pain and wounds you may still carry from your parents’ divorce does not have to etch your fate into stone. You are stronger than the past. Think of the challenges you have overcome, and the challenges we see people overcome all over the world. The human spirit is strong and meant to conquer all fears.

Abortion is only a temporary solution. The end result always come back to haunt you. If you are still set on not having children in your marriage, then consider adoption. There are married couples everywhere who cannot have their own kids, and would do anything to adopt your unborn child. Give someone else the opportunity to fulfill their dreams. Visit a free pregnancy resource center or clinic to find out what your options are!

The loss of a child is tragic and difficult, including the loss by abortion. A woman doesn’t truly know what she will experience after the loss and doing it alone is the last thing you should do. You may have had an abortion thinking it would solve your problems and help you move on, only to find that you have feelings of guilt, shame, and regret. Your body’s hormones may be out of sorts and uncontrollable due to your pregnancy ending unnaturally.  Some may tell you that this will pass, and they aren’t wrong. However, will you truly heal the way you want?

There are resources available to you and to other women who are suffering the loss of a child through abortion. Places like Hope After Abortion , Surrendering the Secret, and By Your Side LA are just a few of the resources out there. By Your Side LA will provide you with someone you can to listen to your story and find the resources you need to heal and move on peacefully. You will also learn from women who have experienced having abortions and suffered through the grieving process as well.  You will find that there is hope at the end of it. You can learn to forgive yourself and learn to look at life in a new way.

Don’t try and sweep this under the rug and deny the pain you are feeling. Even if you put on a game face and can show the world you are fine, eventually the truth finds a way to surface. Bring yourself to a pregnancy resource in your area and visit one of the websites above. You will find peace and healing.