All women, and many men, are aware of the changes that seem to be prevalent with every cycle during the childbearing years. Of course, men go through their own cycles - and humans in general go through cycles of their life - all with similar feelings as a bigger picture. The thing most modern cultures don't grasp, however, is the ability to work with their cycle on a day to day basis to not only get the most out of their energy levels - but live a more fulfilling life by not working against their energy levels. The fact that we have medications that are believed to be a normal part of our biological needs because of discomfort, agitation, depression, bloating, PMS…etc., is a red warning light telling us to pay attention and provide relief. Let's talk about some ways you might accomplish a more wholesome life by planning around the seasonal changes of your cycles.
First things first - ideally, you would have a 28 day cycle. The moon has a 28 day cycle. The earth has a seasonal cycle. Plants follow their own cycles. The day follows a cycle. What is most important is the sun's cycle and its constant influence no matter the season. Furthermore, of all of these cycles that keep going round and round, we can gather some of the most relatable information if we look at plants for just a moment.
Plants will not put forth their fruit without a certain set of conditions. If ideal conditions are not met, the fruit will be sour or diseased or smaller, perhaps. It may take longer to harvest. Stress of the wind, the water, the pollution and some say even the noise will change growing patterns. The plant may wither away if it lacks certain nutrients, sunlight, or water. Plants may bear more than expected fruit or any situation similar to a lack of ideal conditions. As the sun increases during the spring we see life exponentially growing and as it wanes in the autumn, living things use their energy within instead of forth-giving. Plants are living things. We are living things. We are not elite in the fact that our body can run as intended when it is not in the ideal environment.
How can we live a modern life and still honor the intention of our female nature?
Is it even possible? That's a topic for another time… so for now let's not focus so much on time length of your current cycle or other therapeutic treatments able to balance your cycle beyond the emotional planning you can do that we'll discuss here.
The above illustration shows the basic phases of the menstrual cycle and how they coincide to what we often refer to as the four seasons. "Medically" - the new cycle is said to begin with menses (your "period"), so we'll start there - although, secretly - I like to think of the year and my cycle starting with spring.
THE FERTILE SEASONS
Menstruation Phase - Winter
Menses - the winter phase - is a sign of fertility. Although women do typically ovulate and then menstruate following (see why I don't like thinking of this as the beginning?)… This is a time for that sort of "ahhh" feeling. Sometimes this is, "ahhh, a new page on my chart." For others it might be, "ahhh, I'm NOT pregnant." For others it is a little more inward and lonesome - but exciting because of what you can receive in others' energy after a cycle of giving.
No matter how you like to look at this phase, this is a time for slowing down and reflection. Your hormones, namely progesterone, are leveling off and you may feel a sense of release… emotionally and physically. Some may get a surge of energy at this point, but tasks that allow you to rejuvenate are best utilized at this time.
- Rest & Relax
- Take time for yourself
- Take a bath nightly with calming herbs and a soothing menses tea designed to build energy and maintain blood levels.
- No "must do's"
- Receive - request - help around the house - with loving friends or family nurturing you
- Reduce appointments (even if they're pampering)
- Nurture yourself with positive social connection
- Eat nourishing bone broth based soups and stews.
Follicular Phase - Spring
Who doesn't love spring? You should be feeling cleansed and rejuvenated by this point. Your energy is building and now is the time where you feel like taking on new tasks and beginning to give some of your energy again. This is the time for the "yes I can" phase of your cycle. You might care how you look, how you feel, and the "what's going on" in the social world attitudes - even if last week, you wanted nothing to do with it. This phase can fluctuate in length easily with environment (food, stress, sleep…etc.).
What is important here, however, is to not overbook yourself now - or for the rest of your cycle. You may be feeling great, but you need to plan ahead and remember that your cycle (and environment) may influence your daily tasks. This phase is best at getting rid of old ways and being ready for something new. This is the best time for getting started on new tasks, taking on a new project at work or a new job. You'll feel energized and together.
- Get Creative
- Design or plan something (hobbies, work projects, vacations, birthday parties…etc.)
- Plan for the new cycle the goals and achievements you desire
- Clean house (literally, and emotionally)
- Get a few "must do" items knocked off your task list to reduce too many later in your phase
- Meetings are often best experienced in this phase of the cycle
- Teamwork and female interaction will be most pleasant at this time - schedule activities accordingly
- Slow cooked foods like sprouted beans, roasts, and long grain or wild rice will help with energy-building after the menses phase.
Ovulation Phase - Summer
You are swollen with energy, love, passion, and possibly even a little social envy. You feel great. Your cheeks are a little more red and your lips a little more plump. Your cervical fluid is increasing quickly and becoming a stretchy, clear, highly fertile fluid.
Your individual personality and interests are really going to play a big role during this time. You may feel a little uneasy if tasks are not going well, but this is the time to take action and make a decision. Your "yang" energy is at its peak and you're ready to be done with teeter tottering on decisions.
- Make decisions
- Schedule meetings/appointments requiring your persuasion and input
- Make a project task list for the luteal phase to reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed when you have the energy to get something done at that time
- Go for a date night (get a babysitter for the kids)
- Male interaction will be most pleasant at this time - schedule activities accordingly
- Nourish yourself with healthy fats, meats, and a good balance of light and protein rich foods. Grilled meats with citrus, and grilled vegetables with an herbal cordial or nourishing fermented beverage will do well this time of your cycle.
Luteal Phase - Autumn
Ovulation has passed and progesterone is one the rise preparing for gestation if conception occurred during the ovulation phase. This phase should always be the same length for you, no matter how long your cycle lasts.
You may feel warmer and more easily agitated though you are ready to get something accomplished. You want to finish things up and get things in order.
- Work on your tasks list from projects created earlier in your cycle
- Solicit help for daily tasks and care with children.
- Individual work is most easily undertaken at this time.
- Get outside and move with plenty of sunshine.
- Family fun adventures are great for this phase - something to get out of the house and get some fresh air.
- Be cautious on bed times so you don't agitate your body with lack of sleep.
- Say "no" to events, volunteering, and generally too much on the schedule.
- Nourish yourself with teas and foods that are easily digested and low on heavy carbohydrates. Rice, light wraps/sandwiches, soups and stews will digest well.
In addition to each phase of our cycle, we can think about our individual days in similar cycles and consider the way we interact routinely throughout each day and phase while using our morning/spring/planning time to prepare better for the following day.
- Night - Winter - Sleep & Rejuvenation
- Morning - Spring - Plan & Prepare
- Afternoon - Summer - Outside, Movement, Outings, & Activity
- Evening - Autumn - Rest & Finish Tasks
The times of these daily tasks will vary with the seasons, but what is most important is to notice the sun's influence on the length of time we have to complete tasks and not over-scheduling activities either during the shorter days of the year where artificial light will further diminish our body's natural sleep cycles nor too much during the longer days when it may feel as though there is all the time in the world and we're soon exhausted from over stimulation.
Areas of Fulfillment
Though our energy and our focus will shift throughout the weeks and months, we need to be filled in certain areas regularly to feel whole. These areas include:
- Spiritual thanks & honor - Everything for His glory and not our own
- Giving - Doing for someone or something else without expectation of return
- Receiving - Accepting the energy others desire to provide without expectation of specificity and the allowance for time of relaxation and down time (including reduction of audio and visual input of all kinds)
- Movement - Physical activity of a varied kind (not "exercise" specifically)
- Nutrient - Wholesome whole foods of a varied, and seasonal, nature
Cycle Seasons Journal Template
There are many journaling methods and planner methods and all are wonderful and great - and obviously the key is to find one that works for you. You'll find two sheets attached that you can use for a 3-ring binder style journal for now.
The first is a calendar template. You have a line for the month and a main project task list. You'll also see a goal wheel where you can add date lengths for each of your cycle phases or the most important tasks to finish during that phase. Below is a blank template with a column on the left where you can write your phase for that week and blocks to the right for appointments and planning. In your follicular-spring phase of your cycle, this is the best time to complete this calendar.
[button link="http://www.esalibirth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Seasonal-Cycle-Calendar-Template.pdf" color="default" size="large" style="simple" icon="" icon_pos="left" target="_blank" align="center" lightbox="false"]Download Calendar Template[/button]
The next is a daily journal template. You'll start filling out these entries during the morning-spring time of the day for the following day. This enables you time to pre-plan a little and get things in order so you can have the remaining part of the day for activities and relaxation - and being careful to avoid the temptation of activity planning in the night/winter phase of the day after the rest of the family is sleeping (and you're likely to be missing sleep of your own in such a case). You can also fill out any cycle tracking information such as your cervical fluid consistency, the cervical positioning (os), intercourse (and if it was 'protected'), basal body temperature, and any notes specific to your cycle. Use the 5 blocks underneath to help plan - or journal - the areas of fulfillment that you are planning for the day or experienced during the day. The bottom section is your reflection space that is great to finish up in the autumn evening time before bed.
[button link="http://www.esalibirth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Seasonal-Cycle-Journal-Template.pdf" color="default" size="large" style="simple" icon="" icon_pos="left" target="_blank" align="center" lightbox="false"]Download Daily Journal Template[/button]
As this article comes to its winter time, you just might be feeling a little overwhelmed. I'm happy to chat with you, of course! You will also find that as you start thinking about the activities that you plan and the goals you want to achieve with your cycle in mind - this flow will start to come naturally to you and overall you'll be more in tune with your biological intuition.
Tell me how you like to honor your female cycle.