MENSTRUAL CYCLE AWARENESS
If someone had said to me twenty (or even five!) years ago that one day I would not only know exactly what was going on with my seemingly irregular cycle, but I would also celebrate it and use it to boost my productivity, I'd have probably laughed nervously and backed towards the nearest exit. "Okaaay, crazy lady".
Since I started studying the amazing wisdom of authors, educators, and practitioners like Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer, Maisie Hill and Christiane Northrup, I have learned so much about myself, and when I started tracking my cycle it showed me an entirely new way of looking at my body, my hormones, my planning, my relationships, my creativity, my energy - everything!
And then I took what I was learning through my tracking, and started applying it to my business.
TRACKING VS PLANNING
So what is tracking anyway? There are many different approaches, but the simplest method is to record a word or two a day so you can chart how the changing hormones throughout your menstrual cycle are affecting you overall.
You start at Day One, which is the first day of your bleed, and keep a note each day for the duration of your cycle. When your next bleed arrives, you start tracking from Day One again. It's that simple!
When I scanned the web for a cycle tracker, I came across a lot of similar layouts. Most were a circle with room for 28-30 days. But what if, like me (and over 80% of women!), yours wasn't a neat 28 days? Mine was almost always 35 days long now and it frustrated me that there wasn't space for me to record my whole cycle.
I started to design my own with room for a far longer cycle, and then I thought... if I could see more than one month at a glance, could I start to predict when I would feel most confident, most sociable, or when I would need to be alone and quiet? Planning for my next cycle as well as tracking my current?
And if I could predict when I was at my most confident or most creative, could I plan my work around that schedule?
Now, I know realistically we can't rearrange our lives to always suit our mood and energy (especially with kids in tow!), but since I started charting my cycles this way I have definitely been able to be both more productive and kinder to myself.
I can plan content creation, pitching and speaking for when I know I'll be at my most creative and articulate. I can save myself the ticket money on that upcoming networking event if I know I'll actually be feeling fatigued, foggy and emotional that day!
THE PERIOD PLANNER
The Silly Heart Period Planner has room for three months per page, always starting on Day One of your cycle and going all the way up to day 112 if that's the room you need.
There is space and a key to track the date, and the lunar cycle alongside your own (more on that below).
I've included the above sample page in your download to give you an idea of how to use it, but you can record whatever is helpful to you - energy, emotion, physical symptoms, even just a score out of ten for the day!
Print it out and put it somewhere where you'll remember to use it every day. On your desk, by your bed, on the fridge, by the kettle. If you live with others, don't hide it - it's so important that friends and family (and the big wide world) know what is going on in our bodies so they treat it with respect.
I keep my planner on my desk and my husband checks it regularly to see if when I say "I'm fine", I actually mean it.
Excitingly, it was recently shared by Period Power author, Maisie Hill herself with her private membership group, The Flow Collective! A real pinch-me moment!
KNOWING YOUR CYCLE
There are different ways of looking at and recognising the phases of your cycle. Every one is unique but you may find yours follows these patterns:
The Bleed / Menstrual / New Moon / Winter
A quiet and reflective time where your energy turns inward.
The days following your bleed / Follicular / Waxing Moon / Spring
A feeling of growing enthusiasm, energy and creativity.
Ovulation / Full Moon / Summer
A peak in confidence, articulation, and being all round charismatic!
The days preceding your bleed / Luteal / Waning Moon / Autumn
As our hormones take a dip, there's a desire to nest, be cosy and comforted, and finish up what you've started.
WHY THE MOON?
The moon's phases and how it waxes and wanes mirrors our own cycle beautifully. At new moon we can feel bereft of energy, patience, creativity. At full moon we can feel full of life, enthusiasm and maybe a little lunacy!
I've found through my own tracking that if I ovulate on a waxing or full moon I feel ready to take on the world! But if I ovulate around a new moon I am quieter about my plans and what I'm working on. A little more introverted.
This was one of the first things I learned that I was able to implement into my business in a big way. I had a list of dates to choose from for my first branding photo shoot, and I chose one that fell on a waxing moon in the lead up to my ovulation. I rocked up that morning brimming with confidence (something that usually escapes me when in front of a camera!) and feeling like the best version of myself.
It is completely up to you whether you track the lunar cycle alongside your own. but I have found that it can make a huge difference to the way way I feel. You can either download a moon phases app or add them directly to your Google calendar (on your desktop calendar page, scroll down on the left to 'Other Calendars', hit the plus sign, and select 'Browse calendars of interest').
FINDING MY FLOW
I only began tracking my cycle last year but the difference it's made to my life and my mental health has been huge.
I was put on the contraceptive pill at 16 to regulate my periods as they were only showing up once or twice a year, which of course didn't regulate them, but stopped them altogether. Diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome at 21, I was told it would be a struggle for me to conceive, and (later on, when we tried) it turned out it was. It took three years, many rounds of acupuncture and Chinese herbs, and eventually some hormonal intervention to give us our twin daughters.
What frustrates me now (other than being constantly covered in jam and surrounded by Duplo) is that I believe if I had known then what I know now, I would not have had the same trouble conceiving. I may not have gone on to the contraceptive pill at all, and my adolescent health and life through my twenties and thirties could have been quite different. Knowing ourselves really is our greatest power, and I wish I'd known more then.
Tracking and planning but not sure how to make the best of your cycle? I'd love to talk to you about how to bring this knowledge into your business.
I offer one-off sessions, and both short and long term mentoring.
You can see my packages here, or simply say hello below!