Don’t know about you, but for many years I’ve never paid attention to my menstrual cycles. Period is something that happens but I’ve never got to know it and how it affects me. It’s not until last year that I started to learn more. And then, I came across a productivity hack which involves planning the work around different phases in the cycle. It’s a mind blow, and a life changer.
Menstrual cycle 101
So to start off, it might be worth a quick reminder on the four phases in a menstrual cycle.
The menstruation phase is when you bleed. Next comes the follicular phase, which technically starts on the first day of the menstruation. The ovary produces follicles in this phase and eventually one of them matures. In the ovulation phase, the ovary releases the matured egg, which travels down the fallopian tube towards the uterus. Finally it’s the luteal phase, where body releases hormones to thicken the uterine lining. This gets it ready for a fertilized egg to implant. If the egg is not fertilized the lining will shed which leads to the period.
The cool thing is that different types of hormones are produced in different phases which impact our mood, skin, energy level and general well-being.
How do I plan my work around the cycle?
If you think of different phases in your cycle like four seasons.
Menstruation phase is like winter: The energy tends to be the lowest and we are more likely to feel withdrawn. This is a great time to allow plenty of rests and book fewer meetings. I allow myself to do nothing and or have a retreat day whenever possible.
Follicular phase is like spring: We are likely to get a boost of energy. We may feel creative and willing to take risks. Time to find nourishing activities, creative projects, researching or problem solving. For example, I usually do nidra and yoga class research around this time and work on my business strategy.
Ovulation phase is like summer: We might feel we look better and feel more confident which helps verbalize our thoughts and feelings. Time to enjoy physical activities, socializing or networking. This is also when I record my long form yoga content such as videos for YouTube.
Luteal phase is like autumn, the energy starts to wind down and we may experience PMS symptoms such as bloating, tender breasts and moodiness. This is a great time to work on things that needs a more critical perspective, such as project reviewing or book keeping.
It makes so much sense right? I love how this approach helps us to be compassion with ourselves: accept our tendencies in different seasons and use our strengths. More importantly there’s always time for self-care and resting.
My caveat is that cycles don’t dictate our energy level or mood which can also be affected by a number of other things. In reality your feelings may not stick to this schedule. Everyone has a different cycle too, which can also be irregular. If you don’t know your cycles well I’d encourage you to start tracking and keep a journal about how you feel. This is a really nourishing practice to re-connect with yourself on its own.
I hope you find this helpful and please do share with me how you are finding it!
If you are geeky like me, I’ve got a few recommended books & apps [not paid advertisement]
Slightly on the science heavy side but can learn a lot about hormones.
Covers more than just menstrual cycle. A simply fascinating, informative and hilarious book about make and birth a baby.
I use the paid version which has so much really informative and helpful well-being content, on cycles, diet, skin care and mental health and more. I also like their AI chat bots which pays attention to the symptoms I log and asks me helpful questions. It genuinely makes me feel like I’m being looked after.