Empower your period: supercharge your cycle
Have you ever wondered why there are certain times of the month where you feel super productive - you’re smashing it at work, you’re the world’s best girlfriend/bestie/sister, and you’re that person who actually fist pumps the air in spin class? And other days when all you want to do is crawl into a hole and watch Friends on repeat, only surfacing for wotsits and red wine? Read on and all will be revealed...
What if periods didn’t have to be such a… well, pain?
Could we really learn to love our monthly bleeding and all the bits that go with it, including the crazy person we become at times? By getting familiar with our monthly cycles, we can understand so much more about why we act a certain way at certain times of the month. And once we get to grips with that, we can start planning our lives around our cycles - scheduling certain things for when we feel great, or not so great. We can begin to go with the flow. Literally.
Hormones…. not in your head
Well, some hormones are released by glands in your brain, which is technically in your head, but for too long when we’ve acted certain ways and then tried to explain it’s linked to our period, it has been met with a dismissive “that old excuse again..”. “Being “hormonal” has turned into a negative state: another way to describe acting irrationally and emotionally. But that’s just not the case. We’re here to tell you, it’s not in your head and it’s not “just another mood swing”. If you have a menstrual cycle, there are hormones constantly raging in your system, changing day by day. And they affect how you think, look and feel. And each different emotion you experience is valid. Knowing this can help, rather than hinder you.
Welcome to your inner seasons
It’s good to think about the menstrual cycle like the seasons in a year: broken down into winter, spring, summer and autumn. The average cycle is 28 days long, so we’ll use this as a guide to map out how long each season lasts. However, we know that not many people are ‘average’, so it’s best to track your own cycle. More on this later… Day one of the cycle starts from the first day of your bleed.
Winter is coming (day 1 - 5ish)
This is when your period arrives. All your reproductive hormones drop and you will feel tired. Your body is working hard to release the blood in the lining of your uterus, so it’s sending you all the signals to slow down and stop. Think about winter. All the leaves drop from the trees, everything comes to a halt and the animals hibernate - that’s exactly what you should do too. Build yourself a nest and stay there. We know it’s not always possible for everyone, but if you can WFH for the first couple of days of your period, do. Cancel all social engagements and rest, rest, rest. Taking this downtime now will set you up for the rest of your cycle. If you don’t slow down, you may end up running on empty later on which can cause different hormone-related issues like bad PMS or even fertility issues.
Your winter superpowers: Let it go
Now is the time to put Frozen on full volume and release any unnecessary tension that’s been building up. That annoying work email, a snide comment, or even bigger hurdles in your life. Write it all down and burn it, have a yelling session into a pillow or just quietly say goodbye to that negativity. Whatever you need to do.
Get the spring back in your step (day 6 - 11ish)
Ever notice how just after you have your period you have an extra spring in your step and everything seems brighter? Just like springtime when the blossom starts to say hello, oestrogen starts to rise and we start to feel more energy, more motivation and full of hope, optimism and ideas.
Your spring superpower: Play with your potential
Now is the perfect time to get curious. That side hustle you’ve been thinking about - start getting it down on paper. Get creative with a new project. And that doesn’t have to mean you are suddenly the next Picasso, it may just be that you come up with a new route to work - every win makes you a winner! But now is also the time to think big - think about what can you change in your life for the better and plan how you can make it happen.
Summer lovin’ (day 12 - 19ish)
This is where you might find a glowier, 2.0 version of yourself. Your oestrogen will be peaking as you’re due to ovulate so everything about you is saying YES. This means you may find yourself with heaps of energy, feeling like a social butterfly and dazzling your way through that work presentation. And, yes, your biology means that you’re more likely to get pregnant during your inner-summer, so if you find yourself making ‘come hither’ eyes at the local barista, you know why!
Your summer superpower: Enjoy the ride
Summer is a time for you to shine. Whether that’s in a work environment, through smashing your PB on your run, or throwing a dinner party pulling out all the stops. You’re looking and feeling your best, so why not flaunt it?
The fall is autumn (day 20 - 28ish)
And then the leaves start to turn. During autumn your oestrogen dips and progesterone begins to rise. Progesterone is a hormone which is all about slowing right down. Netflix and chill time. You may notice you have less energy and you feel like there are only certain people (or sometimes no people) you want to be around. In the days before your period, you may also be feeling more sensitive and extra critical - to yourself and/or others. This is normal, but can be really difficult to deal with or explain to others. Be gentle with yourself and seek help if you need it (see resources below as a start).
Your autumn superpower: Get decisive
Now is the best time to make decisions. Normally the kind of person who panics when asked what you’d like in your Subway sandwich?! Your inner-autumn is a great time to write pro and con lists. Things become clearer, and you’re not in a place to take sh*t from anyone, so that thing you’ve been putting off - decide now!
One size doesn’t fit all
If you’re reading this and it doesn’t seem to quite fit, that’s OK. It may be that your hormones are on a different wavelength or your personality is more attuned to one season over another, so you feel more at home at that time. The best way to get to know your cycle is to track it. All this means is writing down a word or two every day on each day of your cycle (day 1,2,3,4 etc) about how you feel (depleted, happy, horny, playful, productive etc).
Then each month you can cross-reference and see how you were feeling at the same time in previous months. Once you’ve been doing it for a few months you’ll be amazed to see patterns emerging and suddenly things will make more sense. You can then start to plan ahead - do you really want to go on a first date on day 2 of your cycle? Why not do that big get-together you’ve been planning on day 14?
There are plenty of apps out there where you can track your cycle and some also have a feature where you can also track your mood, or you can simply write it down in a journal. We've created a a cycle tracker for you if you want to write it yourself!
Want to learn more? Check out these top resources:
- Period Power, by Maisie Hill - A book that will give you the ins and outs of the inner-seasons of your menstrual as well as practical help with period-related issues.
- Code Red, by Lisa Lister - A book which will help you connect with your cycle superpowers.
- Wild Power, by Alexandra Pope & Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer - This book addresses the power of the feminine through exploring the emotional side of the inner-seasons.
- redschool.net - From the authors of Wild Power, a great website with lots of free resources to track your cycle or learn more about your cycle.
- www.menstrual-matters.com - Tons of great articles to help you better understand your hormones and what happens during menstruation.
- www.pms.org.uk - A great resource for those who suffer from PMS with plenty of support and advice.
- The Period Party - A podcast series by two women health specialists who explore period issues.