Monthly Cycle tracking and cyclical living
Cycle tracking is something I came to fairly late given I’d had cycles for around 15 years before I started making a note of it. I’d thought of it simply as a method of making sure you weren’t pregnant and possibly explaining why you had a short temper a few days a month so there seemed little point.
Then I started tracking... I quickly discovered that I didn’t only get tearful or short tempered a few day’s a month. I got a full blown depression and self loathing for a few days each month which immediately lifted when I got my period. I also got severe anxiety around ovulation. This was a revelation because the knowledge that when those days came around, they were temporary, meant all I had to do was be gentle with myself for a few days, not make any big decisions to pack in my business, cancel all my plans etc. and I’d be fine.
It also led me to research extreme PMS which I now know can be conditions such as PMDD or PME and ways to manage it. It led me to change my contraception and start drinking raspberry leaf tea in the second half of my cycle which has drastically improved my symptoms at that time of the month. Sometimes so much that my period sneaks up on me with no drop in mood.
This was already life changing stuff and all I’d done so far was to track when my period was due. I wondered if there was more to it as it’s not simply one hormone that changes the week before your period and then goes away again. There’s fluctuations of hormones throughout the month.
I began tracking days where I was lethargic, day’s where I was Supermum, days where I was full of ideas, days where I cleaned and organised the house (and enjoyed it!) and they consistently happen at the same time each month. I came to understand that if I planned to reorganise a room in the house at the end of my cycle for example, I’d make slow progress and keep telling myself how useless and lazy I was, I’d completely fail and be miserable. But if I planned it on an certain few days of the month, I’d get it done efficiently and with ease and I’d be even enjoy the process.
Instead of trying to achieve things in an order or when I should do them, I began doing them (as much as possible) at the point of my cycle where I showed a natural strength for it. I could spend my massively inspired days sketching out ideas, so that on my less inspired days, I had drawings to complete that didn’t require trying to force creativity that wasn’t there. When the urge to clean and organise kicked in, I’d have a list written out of things I needed to complete when the energy was there. I stopped actively planning social activities on the weeks where I was naturally more introverted but made sure I had exciting plans for the weeks where I become a social butterfly and enjoy company.
I’d always known that the season changes affected me too. In the summer, my happiness levels and energy levels are up, we adventure more, socialise more, take advantage of the light. Who cares if we’re up late when you can have dinner on the beach? In the winter, I am more introverted and reflective. We stay home more, we read more stories and we cook together more. We light candles and chat over dinner. The menstrual cycle, matches the seasons of the year and stages of life. Certain phases of my cycle I want to be at home where I feel comfortable just like in winter and other phases I want to be out and about and socialising. When you energy levels fall, you become wiser almost as if you age a lifetime each month.
When you consider your cycle in these terms, it becomes clearer what our strengths are at different times. For example, you wouldn’t attempt to paint your house in winter in your old crone phase of your cycle, because when you wait until the following spring phase and you become a maiden again, your energy levels and ability to focus rises, this task becomes easy.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that living cyclically, with my body and the natural world, has improved my quality of life dramatically. I want to shout about it because it’s something I wish I’d known more about years ago. Instead of feeling useless that I don’t have the same energy and motivation all month, I now value the reflective time and apply self-care when my body is calling for it. Of course life happens and you can’t fit everything in around when it suits your hormones, but you can recognise that some things will naturally be more difficult and certain times of the month and forgive yourself for it.
I’ve now created an illustrated cyclical living kit which will be available to download as a PDF from September 2nd, along with a Facebook group and videos that go into much more detail. Click here to be notified as soon as they become available.