If you’ve been following this thread of articles over the past couple of weeks then you already know:
- The health of your menstrual cycle is crucially important for your emotional stability and outlook on life;
- And why ignoring and normalizing menstrual cycle symptoms, begins a snowball effect of deteriorating your mental health.
Now that you have those 2 foundations in place, it’s time we get to the fun part.
The nitty-gritty of how to use your cycle to your advantage.
Essentially I want to show you that by following your menstrual cycle strengths while pursuing your life goals, you can:
- feel so much more positive about yourself,
- feel excited about your work,
- and strengthen your belief in yourself.
Let’s start with why this societal 24-hour schedule we live by leaves women completely exhausted and feeling like they’re not good enough.
The female brain can change up to 25% during the monthly cycle.
These significant changes happen primarily because of our fluctuation in estrogen levels throughout the cycle.
This pretty much means that different areas of your brain are more active in the first half of your cycle, compared to the second half.
So, as a person, your emotional and cognitive strengths are literally changing week to week.
So wouldn’t it be so weird to expect us to feel, think and work exactly the same way every single day of the month?
Yet, that is exactly what our cultural conditioning does.
Cultural conditioning keeps menstruating people trapped in a routine that diminishes their capabilities.
Even though women and menstruating people are just as capable of doing and achieving the same things as men, we are not the same and our bodies work very differently.
However, we are expected to operate in the same way and fit in the same box of productivity, which emphasizes go-go-go energy, also known as masculine energy.
Don’t get me wrong! Everyone has both feminine and masculine energy. Both forms of energy are good, and you have to find your own balance. However, engaging in one exclusively can lead to burnout, which is happening at a faster rate for women.
By buying into our cultural conditioning, which says that relying on our masculine energy is the path to success, you, as someone with a menstrual cycle, unconsciously disconnect from the one thing that was designed to make your life more efficient – your menstrual cycle.
Your menstrual cycle holds the key to you feeling more accomplished.
When you try to stick to the same habits every day to attempt to accomplish all you had planned out for the week, instead of feeling like you are breezing through your to-do list, you start feeling worse about yourself because you can’t seem to stick to it.
And the more you try to behave this way, the more stressed you become, and the less satisfied you feel with yourself. This opens up the gates for low confidence and negative thoughts about yourself.
I see it day in and day out.
My clients come to me with deep-rooted beliefs that something is wrong with them.
“I am a failure”.
“I can’t keep my commitments to myself.”
They get into a spiral of bad feelings about themselves, simply because…they have been operating with the wrong controls.
Controls that serve people with male hormones, but not them.
So, no. There’s nothing wrong with them.
They are not a failure.
And they don’t have problems with commitment or being disciplined.
Quite the contrary.
They just weren’t aware or factoring in the changes in their natural rhythms, and how that affects their brain chemistry, their energy levels, their focus, and their moods.
How can you Put Your Menstrual Cycle to Work for You?
First, remember, you’re not the same from week to week. So stop expecting to work that way.
Second, understand that your hormones can affect more than just your period. They can significantly affect the way you think, feel, work, and relate to others. They can affect what you are interested in and what you are stimulated by each week of your cycle.
What you need to do first, is learn about how your hormone fluctuations influence your behavior. Then, notice these shifts, as you move from week to week. Finally, start experimenting with different ways to schedule your weekly work and goals, so that your cycle strengths can help you sustain your energy, creativity, and productivity regardless of the demands on your schedule.
When you start working smarter this way, those negative limiting beliefs you’ve been holding onto start to dissipate. This is because you no longer have proof that you aren’t good enough and that you can’t do things with ease and less resistance.
It’s a magical process of seeing your brilliance come out.
So let’s get into the juicy part.
Here’s how you can start to schedule tasks/goals to appropriate phases of your cycle
This phase begins on the first day after you bleed. Hormonally speaking, your estrogen levels are starting to rise, after being at an all-time low during the bleeding week.
Interestingly, estrogen’s effect on your brain improves your ability to solve problems, strategize, and plan – you have more mental sharpness. But it also sparks creativity.
So, this makes the follicular phase an ideal time to schedule your most mentally challenging assignments for this week.
It’s also an ideal time to start working on something new. Something that you’ve always wanted to do. Anything from a new project to a new business.
When you schedule things this way, the task at hand will feel like it’s flying by, because you are taking full advantage of the cognitive capabilities you need strengthened for those types of tasks – which are your brain’s creative power as well as its problem-solving capabilities.
However, as I mentioned before, don’t forget that you are capable of doing this at any other time in your cycle. But the difference will be, that instead of taking 3x as long to do the job, it will feel like it’s flying by, and you will preserve a lot more energy, rather than wasting it because you have to force something out.
So you get to work smarter, not harder.
As you get closer to the ovulatory phase, estrogen levels start flooding your brain even more. This not only heightens the skills mentioned before but estrogen also activates a special part of your brain. The part that makes you extra social, communicative, and confident. Both the verbal and social centers of your brain are lighting up like fireworks.
This means that in this phase, you will get energized by doing tasks that involve connection and collaboration – like networking, dates, social gatherings, client meetings, and presentations.
Choosing to have important conversations at this phase, such as asking for a promotion, will feel easier. This is because you’re a very clear communicator and you’re also a great listener because you are generally more receptive too.
For all the entrepreneurs out there, this is a great time to batch marketing content such as reels, recoding videos, going live, etc. It will feel so much easier to do it in this phase and you will not feel exhausted by the task.
Most of us think about the luteal phase, as the phase where we will be struggling with PMS.
But the luteal phase is meant to be a wonderful experience when your hormones are regulated. Because in this phase, progesterone levels start rising. And high progesterone levels in the brain provide us with a calming and focusing effect on our productivity.
Interestingly, the particular ratio of estrogen to progesterone in this phase makes you notice things around you that you didn’t see before. As a result, your brain begins to prioritize detail-driven responsibilities that seemed dreadful to you in any other week.
It will feel pleasurable and effortless for you to sit down and get things done because you have less social energy and you are very observant of detail. Get those reports and Excel sheets done, finalize your editing and proofreading, and get your finances together.
This phase is extra special because your cycle is giving you the opportunity to deeply assess your life and how it’s going. You are great at evaluating and analyzing what is going on in your life.
Use this time of the month to reassess your progress and goals.
You’re also most likely to receive clear intuitive-gut messages during this phase. So make sure to check in and listen to those subtle messages. Because they will hold your truest feelings. Use your journal or planner to jot down what your gut is telling you each month at this time.
You may find that after a few months go by, your intuition during this phase is reinforcing certain thoughts you’ve had in general.
So by tuning in and trusting your instincts, you can then take action in the next set of phases of your cycle to work towards your vision and goals.
The aftermath of syncing with your cycle on your mental health
After syncing your work routines with your cycle for a few months, you will hopefully start noticing positive shifts in your moods and your energy levels.
Instead of feeling like you’re grinding away, having anxious and depressive thoughts about your capabilities, you will get more excited about getting things done in your day-to-day. This will also change the way you feel when you wake up in the morning. You may experience more willpower, less stress, and less overwhelm.
With this cycle-based practice, you’re also inviting yourself to connect deeper with your body. This will inadvertently make you notice its different needs and desires throughout the monthly cycle. And when you act on those needs, you are supporting the health of your hormones, the health of your cycle, and consequently the health of your emotional well-being.
See it this way, every time you can match a task to the right timing of your biochemistry, you are no longer draining your energy bank account. And your energy bank directly influences the levels of stress and anxiety you experience in life.
You will also have more fun. Life will feel more pleasurable. And you will look forward to doing all the things, instead of it feeling like a drag.
Have fun experimenting!
Dr. Maria – your go-to doc for happy hormones