For many women, the onset of her period can be a painful and distressing time; a time of seemingly unpredictable emotional highs and lows, accompanied by debilitating physical symptoms. My experience exactly, so in my twenties I took the contraceptive pill, because it seemed to be the only thing promising me any respite.

In my thirties, I came off the pill and was – again – knocked for six by my period. This time, however, I planned to make peace with it, working in harmony with my menstrual cycle rather than against it. The results were transformational and my crippling symptoms became a thing of the past.

Cycle phases of a period

Like the seasons, our cycle has four different phases. Synchronising our lives around these phases provides us with a self-care tool - a practical way of supporting ourselves to enhance our day-to-day functioning.

  • The first phase is often likened to spring, a time of new beginnings. Once we finish bleeding our hormone and energy levels rise, our focus sharpens and we are ready to re-engage with the world. This is a great time to make plans and identify goals.
  • As our body prepares for ovulation (summer), our hormone levels peak along with our energy and communication skills. We feel dynamic, confident, and pretty much invincible. This is the perfect time to put goals into action, to meet new people, schedule meetings and to channel our fertile and powerful energy into creating, whether that means babies or new projects.
  • Entering the pre-menstrual phase (autumn), our hormone levels plummet and then rise again, leaving us feeling disconcerted, low in mood, as well as vocal and impatient. As our body slows down, our intuition heightens, and we find ourselves assessing our situation, noticing the things that no longer meet our needs. When channelled responsively, this is a time of truth and clarity.
  • The end of the cycle (winter) culminates in menstruation, as our hormone and energy levels reach their lowest point. This is a time of heightened intuition, quiet reflection, and stillness; a time to attend to our inner emotional world and to withdraw from the world outside, as much as our modern life allows.

Women are often seen as being erratic and unpredictable because of our hormones. In actual fact, our hormones can be incredibly predictable. As the phases illustrate, although each woman's cycle is unique, collectively, we have a pretty standard hormonal blueprint that organises our physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

Getting started

  • Chart your cycle. Identifying monthly patterns – the highs, the lows and everything in between – gives us useful information about what our body is doing and when it's doing it. Start by making notes from day 1 of your bleed, right through to day 1 of your next bleed (the start of a new cycle), logging your thoughts, feelings and mood, getting to know how each phase impacts you personally.
  • Rest during menstruation. Physically and psychically letting go of what we don't need allows us to flow into our next phase with greater clarity, feeling well rested, rejuvenated and ready for the month ahead.
  • Eat well. Placing additional stress on our bodies by eating poorly has a detrimental impact on our hormonal functioning, which in turn creates physical and emotional symptoms.

Following these steps, we may begin to experience our period as a gift instead of a curse, developing greater compassion toward our bodies and ourselves. This brings with it healing and transformation, not just for “that time of the month" but for every day of our cycle.

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