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Written by Ailsa Burns, Wellness Writer for Acala.
Author of Woman Code, Alissa Vitti, details in this inspiring Ted Talk how women can and should utilise an awareness of their monthly cycle to improve their lives, make them more money and experience more happiness. I cannot guarantee that you will become a billionaire but I do believe that understanding your own cycle is an incredibly empowering tool for self-care.
There are four stages to your cycle. The well-known stars of the show include the Menstruation phase (your period) and the Ovulation phase (when you are able get pregnant). The two lesser known phases are the Luteal phase and the Follicular phase. On a physical level, your hormones are at different levels throughout these phases and have an impact on how you feel physically and emotionally. Understanding these phases might help you understand why on one weekend you can easily party until the small hours and get up the next day for a lively brunch with your friends whereas on some weekends you would rather curl up on the sofa, enjoy deliciously indulgent food and not see another soul.
This information is for guidance purposes, does not account for hormonal contraception (such as the pill and the implant) and if you have any medical queries, please consult your doctor. Also, many women face ongoing health issues such as PCOS and endometriosis and therefore it is important to acknowledge that every woman is different and may experience their cycles in their own unique way.
Winter: Menstruation Phase
The first day of your period is the first day of your cycle and this phase can last for 3-7days. This phase is symbolised by the season of winter, a time of drawing inwards. You may feel introverted and introspective. This is the time to clear your calendar of social events and enjoy some time alone. Peace and quiet characterises this time of the month. Limit exercise to gentle yoga and walks in nature to allow your body to renew. Keep cosy, eat healthy and hearty food and enjoy the self-care cliché of a long, hot bath with Epsom salts.
Spring: Follicular Phase
This phase can last 7-10days and is symbolised by the season of spring, a time for rebirth. Oestrogen and testosterone hormone levels gradually increase as you near ovulation and these hormones boost energy and mood. You may feel more confident and more willing to take risks. This is the time to speak up at meetings and to join a new meet up group. You may also find that problem solving and coming up with new ideas are your forte during this phase.
Summer: Ovulation Phase
This phase can last 1-3days and is symbolised by the season of summer, a time for adventure. Oestrogen and testosterone levels are continuing to rise and this is when the egg is released for possible fertilisation. You may feel more confident, attractive and your libido may increase. You may feel a heightened sense of smell, taste and vision and might find it easier to verbalise your thoughts. This is the time to schedule public speaking, interviews, important conversations, a date night with your partner or ask someone out.
Autumn: The Luteal Phase
This phase can last 12-16 days and is symbolised by the season of autumn, a time for being creative and reflective. Oestrogen and testosterone levels decrease and the follicle that released the egg will start to produce progesterone, which raises your temperature and is a natural sleep aid. You may feel more inclined to nest and organise your home. The second half of the Luteal phase is when you might experience PMS symptoms and so this is the time to go to bed early or lie in (if you can), eat healthy comfort foods, get a massage, organise your home or office, take a relaxing yoga class and watch a movie or read a book. You may also feel more creative so harness that at home nesting time to work on a creative project.
Next time you notice a dip in your energy levels or a shift in your emotions, check in with your own cycle. We expect to have the same energy levels throughout the month but by recognising where we might be in our cycle, we can be more accommodating and kinder to ourselves.
Interested in reading about how we fight period poverty the environmentally friendly way? Check out this great article written for us by Bella Millington from bespoke organic tampon company OHNE.