A couple of years ago I dragged my bestie to a period workshop and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Why? Because this three hour workshop helped me see for the very first time in my life, just how fucking incredible our menstrual cycles are. Seriously! I literally went from hating my period to loving and respecting it. It’s been three years since that workshop, and I’ve got to tell you - working with my menstrual cycle and understanding my body’s rhythms has absolutely helped ease my anxiety and stress levels (along with a combination of other things).
If you, like me, have had zero to little education when it comes to menstrual cycles - what I’m about to share with you may blow your mind.
You may know that as women, our bodies experience a 28 day cycle. But what you may not know is that our changing hormones also reflect the seasons of nature: Winter, Spring, Summer & Autumn. (Fun fact: men go through an entire hormone cycle in 24 hours!)
Let me explain...
Winter: This is Day 1 - 6 of your cycle. These are the days you’re bleeding. (Side note: Day 1 is the day of your first full bleed - when your blood is bright red). During this time you’re feeling more introverted, intuitive, emotional and introspective. You may be feeling a little sore and vulnerable. This is a time for rest, reflection, restoration and good qual chocolate! It’s also said that when we’re bleeding we’re the most connected to our intuition - so this is an excellent time to get the journal out and do some deep contemplation.
Spring: This is Day 7 - 13 of your cycle. Your energy is increasing, you feel more open to adventure, you want to get outside and have fun! You’re feeling motivated and inspired. This is when you’re in planning and action mode. This is a good time for brainstorming and creativity.
Summer: This is Day 14 - 20 of your cycle. During this time your oestrogen and testosterone levels have peaked. These are the days you’ll be feeling the most confident, sexy and energised AKA this is the time to schedule meetings, dates, social events and networking.
Autumn: This is Day 21 - 28 of your cycle. This is right before your period...Your energy levels begin to drop. You may be experiencing PMS. These are the days you’re more prone to feelings of overwhelm, stress and anxiety.
This is just a quick insight into the changes our bodies experience over the course of our cycle and there’s so much more goodness and magic to learn! But isn’t this cool AND super helpful and empowering?! You can literally use this information to plan your entire month to maximise your productivity and amplify your self care.
Here are some tips to work with your menstrual cycle, and in doing so, better support your mental health:
First things first - get tracking! Download the Clue app (it’s free!) and start tracking your cycle. That way you’ll be able to easily monitor what season you’re in. Because I’ve tracked my cycle for some time now I know when I’m in my Autumn, I’ll get lower back pain and I’m more likely to be feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious and in that just-wanna-quit-my-job-and-move-overseas state of mind! And when you know this is a regular occurence and that you’ll be OK in a few days - it makes life so much easier.
Keep a daily journal and next to the day’s date, add the day of your cycle. For example, Day 12 - Sunday 26 May 2019. This will help you quickly and easily monitor the different phases you’re in.
Honour the season you’re in. Plan your meetings and social outings in your Summer, focus on rest and nourishment in Winter, prioritise your planning and brainstorming in Spring and show yourself extra love and kindness during your Autumn phase.
Second to this, honour the way your body feels EVERY day. There may be days during your Summer where you feel tired and drained. Don’t push through. Rest. Listen to your body.
MENSTRUATION: During my Winter - particularly days 1 - 3, I’ll often cancel any social events I’ve got. When my period falls mid-week - which often happens - I’ll bring my heat pack & essential oils to work. And sometimes, when the cramps become too painful - I’ll take the day off. My favourite things to do when I’ve got my period include: nothing (lols), long baths, face masks and homemade cacao (my recipe is super simple and delicious: 1 tbl organic cacao, ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp honey, ½ tsp coconut oil & 1 cup almond / coconut / soy milk). During this time you will NEVER see me flogging it in the gym. Or at the gym full stop.
Avoid nasty chemicals by using quality menstrual products. I love Tom Organics pads and tampons. I also own a Lunette Menstrual Cup. And these period undies are on my wish list! (Where were these when I was in high school!)
Let’s start talking about our periods and having open, honest conversations. They aren’t gross, disgusting or anything to be ashamed about. It’s 2019, people! Half the population bleeds. Let’s get with it!
Invest in a period care pack. Mine includes a wheat pack, good quality chocolate, face masks (I love these ones), essential oils (lavender or rose are perfect!) and quality menstrual products as outlined above.
CONTINUE YOUR LEARNING
I’m no expert when it comes to menstrual cycles. But I can recommend someone who is! Claire Baker is a writer and women’s coach. Her eBook ‘Adore Your Cycle’ is a great place to start (she hosted the workshop I attended 3 years ago!). I also recently came across this account on Instagram and there’s so much free valuable content on there.
Do you work with your menstrual cycle? Or is this all new information to you? Let me know in the comments below x