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Is menstrual rest a privilege available only to a few?

Every month I take menstrual leave over my period.

It is a time I look forward to all month despite experiencing menstrual discomfort. A time where I let go of most of my to do list and slip into a dreamier state, a time of deep monthly menstrual rest that, much like getting a good night's sleep, gives me energy for the rest of the month and often gives me the answers to questions that have been bothering me.

I often hear women say that they are not able or entitled to this kind of monthly rest due to work commitments, financial strains, lack of childcare and family life - this includes the women who have been diagnosed with severely debilitating menstrual health issues such as heavy bleeding, PMDD and endometriosis. The sense is that menstrual rest is for the privileged few.

I challenge this idea. I believe menstrual rest is available to us all regardless of our social and economic status - even if menstrual leave from work is not a possibility (and it is worth pointing out that menstrual leave is really just another way of describing flexible working hours since the hours are usually made up at other points in the cycle).

So, how is it possible to achieve menstrual rest if you are working a long immovable shift or are a single parent or have small children to feed and clothe and put to bed and get up with early again in the morning?

The answer is to simply move more slowly. Shift down as many gears as is possible. Let go of anything that isn't critical (and most things aren't). It turns out that the things we fill our lives with can actually wait for three days or so (though prepare for a growing pile of laundry). And reach out for help with colleagues, friends - you can always return the favour in a week's time. All of these things help to slip into a more restful state of being, regardless of who we are and what we do.

And, if you happen to find that your period comes over a non-working day? Put the TV on for the kids, leave the washing up, make beans on toast, go to bed a little earlier - do as little as possible. Let go of all expectations of yourself and relieve yourself of any guilt. This is the menstrual leave I know and love - and it's free for all.

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