How to deal with cramps the English way

If you are a menstruating person and you spend any good amount of time in a new place, there will come a time when you have to face the inevitable. Never mind phone trouble or getting lost in a strange land or grim, unfriendly faces staring back at you. The day you have to deal with period cramps in a new city or country is the day you’ll see what you’re really made of.

This morning, I had to learn how to deal with cramps the English way. And no, I don’t mean drinking myself numb.

Here are a few tips for making the most of your morning despite menstrual symptoms. Granted, I’m not a doctor and some people probably have had it way worse than me, so act with discretion.

1. Get up and get moving.
Whether you’re a morning person or not, you probably won’t feel up to doing much of anything. You might be up for calling in sick or emailing your professor that you just can’t make it. Then you’ll likely pull the covers over your head, blast some Lorde and spend the rest of the day in your flat as a blanket burrito.

Photo by Elizabeth Lies

But you can’t give in. The best way to motivate yourself to that end is to get up and walk around for a bit. Put on your favorite podcast or best Kicking Butt in the Morning playlist. There’s something about sticking to your morning routine in the worst of the times that will pull your body and brain out of its sick haze.

2. Take a hot shower.
The idea is that the soothing water will relax your muscles and make you feel that much better. Hot tea has the same effect internally that taking a nice, hot shower does externally.

Photo by Morgan Sessions

And of course, in the U.K., this is a must.

3. Consider your options for breakfast.
Chances are that a big, elaborate breakfast might not be the best thing when you’re feeling ill (or poorly, as I’ve come to say). Take it easy with simple foods like bread or Belvita crackers or plain oatmeal. If nothing else, make sure you are well-hydrated so you won’t feel too horrible as the day progresses.

Photo by Whitney Wright

4. Take some medicine.
This will expedite the process of feeling up to the task of work or school. A shower and breakfast are just the other side of the coin for combatting menstrual symptoms.

5. Make an exit plan. 
Gently let your boss or professor know that you’re not feeling too hot. That way, in the event of an emergency or particularly bad wave of pain, the right people will know why you rushed out of class or a meeting without penalty to you.

These are all steps I incorporated into my morning and I was met with success. I woke up and took some medicine. I listened to This American Life, which I am catching up on.

This particular episode, “Private Geography,” spilled a bit of tea. One of the acts debunks the rumor that Betsy DeVos “never set foot inside a public school.”

On the way to school, I grabbed breakfast: coffee and a croissant. The verdict is still out on whether coffee hurts or helps on your period. For me, a coffee addict connoisseur, I am a firmly believer that a cup of coffee can fix anything. The croissant was for later, because I knew I’d be hungry by the time I started feeling better.

I made my way to Superdrug for the first time as well. It’s definitely more cosmetics-centric than Boots was when I went there. I bought medicine and a heating pad. Again, heat helps ease muscle tension.

Naturally, I had the darnedest time finding what I needed. All of the medicine was generic, but foreign and generic. I had an embarrassingly hard time discerning what was what amidst the glossy, chromatic little boxes. I had to ask for a second opinion.

Like clockwork, by the time I went to class, the medicine kicked in. I got hungry. I felt human again. I ran errands. I ended up grabbing lunch at Itsu, a sushi chain I had been seeing around and found to be from the creative minds behind Prêt-à-Manger.


Sushi probably isn’t anyone’s first choice when it comes to food to eat on your period, but sushi is my comfort food.

Related: Pubbing and grubbing in Clerkenwell

Ultimately, I ended up relaxing a little bit, catching up and doing homework for the rest of the day. While waking up with cramps may be tough-going, it’s always worth it to make the best of the situation and do everything yourself comfortable.

By Caroline Colvin

Black retro-obsessed non-binary baddie ♡ pleasure & wellness advocate ♡ aesthetic archivist ♡

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