Recently, I was told to enjoy the „luxury“ when taking my menstrual break. While I don’t believe this came from an ill-intended place, the comment stirred me up a little. So, I decided to dig deeper.
I’m aware that doing less during my bleed is a privilege and not an option for many menstruating people around the globe. Many of whom merely live to survive.
Now, there is a difference between privilege and luxury. Luxury is something we gain on-top. Something we can afford to do or have, but not necessarily need. The icing on the cake.
Taking a menstrual break is a key measure I implement to recharge my energy so I don’t burn out. As it’s paramount to my well-being, I don’t consider it a luxury .
Slowing down my pace during my bleed and allowing my body to rest is vital for my emotional and physical health. Living in tune with my cycle makes me strong and not only benefits me, but also my community.
Just like our bodies require sleep, food and touch, a menstrual break is not a luxury but a need. While not everyone may feel this way about their bleed, I’m convinced the majority does.
From many conversations I’ve shared with women (cis), one thing really sticks out: it’s the guilt. The guilt many feel at the thought of carving some time out for themselves prior to or during menstruation.
Even when they feel the need to. Even when they know not doing so is detrimental to their health. The guilt of not being „productive“ or being less available to their friends and family weighs heavy on their shoulders.
I’m familiar with this kind of guilt and the shame it entails. It runs deep in our bodies and is the product of a misogynist system that is constantly on the go. A system that exploits people and the earth we live on. A system deemed to fail.
We all know this. And we all fear the consequences of this way of life. And still, when it comes to initiating even the slightest change, we freeze.
We fear possible social repercussions of swimming against the stream, the judgement, the ridicule, the ignorance. We shy away from the discomfort of standing up for our bodies and holding our ground.
I have been honoring my menstruation for many, many years and know how real all this is. So I have compassion when women share their worries and concerns about attempting this change.
It’s possible and we can make it happen. I know from experience that by communicating our premenstrual or menstrual needs, we can create awareness and understanding.
While our circumstances may not permit to fully withdraw during this time – very likely – we will be able to find a compromise.
In a society where the menstrual cycle is largely invisible and menstruation still a taboo, implementing this into our life takes courage.
You are your body’s advocate. If you don’t give yourself permission to honor your menstrual needs and make them a priority, no one else will.
Menstruating or not, a regular breathing space to recharge is vital for anyone. How we treat our bodies matters. Let’s not exploit the gift that allows us to experience the wonders of life.
Hence we should stop labelling menstrual break a luxury or finding excuses as to why it’s impossible. Let’s start finding ways to make it happen!
If you’re in the privileged position to provide a break for your body when it bleeds, please: do not feel guilty about it. You are worthy of this. I’m convinced your choice will have an impact. For the better.