The Mindful Menstrual Cycle
Approximately once a month, women of childbearing age are blessed with what we have come to know as the menstrual cycle. In school, we were taught the basics about our anatomy and physiology, STI’s, and how to prevent pregnancy. We were never taught how to embrace our cycles and learn to work with our own natural rhythms. When we bleed each month our bodies are “detoxing” and getting rid of what is no longer needed. Typically, women associate their periods and the week prior as being symptomatic and dreadful. What if all these symptoms were our bodies’ way of trying to tell us something? Here are a few tips to begin utilizing a mindful approach to our menstrual cycle and ease symptoms.
*Disclaimer: Please seek guidance from a healthcare professional if you are experiencing new or worsening pain and symptoms*
Get to know your cycle: All women are unique and so are our cycles. Downloading a period tracker app can be a helpful and easy way to gain more understanding about your cycle. Clue and Kindara are highly recommended.
Exercise and Nutrition: It’s no secret that exercise and nutrition play a huge role in your health and well-being. Dairy and sugar can have a negative impact on your hormones, so it is best to reduce or eliminate these from your diet.
Week One: Menstruation
This is a time of rest. Incorporate restorative exercises like walking or a gentle yoga. No headstands or hanging out upside down! Encourage gravity to work for you, not against you. Incorporating mineral rich foods will help stabilize mood and cravings, such as healthy fats and vegetables. This can also be a great time to complete a short cleanse.
Week Two: Follicular Phase
Energy levels are rising and you are feeling more outgoing and creative. This is a great time to challenge yourself by doing extra cardio or a difficult workout. Eating raw vegetables and fermented foods are excellent for breaking down excess estrogen which can cause PMS symptoms.
Week Three: Ovulatory Phase
Energy levels are at their peak right now. This is a wonderful time to connect with people and the perfect time to have hard conversations as your communication skills are heightened. Try out a HIIT workout or strength training this week with your higher energy levels! Keep going with the raw juices and fresh veggies to break down that estrogen. If you are going to “treat yoself” this is the best time, but as with all things, do so in moderation. You may naturally want more carbohydrates, so choose healthy carbs like sweet potatoes, quinoa, and fruit.
Week Four: Luteal Phase
Energy levels are beginning to decrease as you get closer to your period. This is great time to finish up personal errands, projects and household duties. Start incorporating restorative exercises like walking and yoga, especially right before your cycle begins. Think healthy comfort foods like soups, healthy fats, cooked vegetables, and grains. Reduce or eliminate caffeine and sugar.
Many menstrual products contain harmful chemicals. This can be irritating to our delicate skin and since the vagina is quite vascular, we absorb these chemicals quickly. Switching to a reusable menstrual cup, organic tampons, or washable period panties can help decrease cramps, reduce vaginal dryness, lighten menstrual flow, and decrease risk of endometriosis, infertility, and cancer.
During the time you are bleeding and in the days leading up to this point, many women feel emotional, irritable, and withdrawn. This is completely normal! Menstruation is a sacred time for women to evaluate our lives and learn what is working for us and what isn’t. Where can you let go in your life? What needs to be nurtured? Only you can answer these questions. Our menstrual cycle opens the gateway for this knowledge, but only if we listen closely to what our bodies are trying to tell us.
The menstrual cycle is a gift that is meant to be cherished. Get to know your body, listen and figure out what works best for you. By adopting a mindful approach to your cycle, you can begin to achieve true balance in your life.
Hi! My name is Jackie Davies. I work as a Nurse and educator, specializing in Palliative Care. I have a passion for holistic health and learning to heal. I have always been a book nerd and love the written word, especially with music and poetry. My favourite hobbies include singing, playing guitar, practicing yoga, cooking, running, and going for a car ride on a beautiful day. I live with my best friend and love of my life, Josh and we have one sweet, loveable dog named Eddie. You can find me on Instagram @jac86_