Ugh, she’s back.
The unwelcomed arrival of Aunty Flo. With the world on a string, she generously brings unwanted offerings of pimples, PMS, cravings, bloating, mood swings, low self esteem, fatigue and a flowing red river of love.
The good news is, her monthly visits don’t always have to be this way. Instead of seeing her as a burden, a curse and a hindrance, we can welcome her with open arms.
But in order to give her the visitation rights she truly deserves, first we need to understand her. We need to learn to go with her flow instead of against.
As women, our periods are a given. They’re a natural and integral part of being a woman. However, modern society and patriarchal norms have sanitised our monthly cycles and conditioned us to see them as something to hide. And we hold onto so much shame and secrecy around something so pure, normal and natural. From our early teenage years we are unwittingly prescribed the pill to control heavy periods and acne, not giving our bodies the opportunity to regulate our hormone levels naturally. Yet we wonder why we have fertility complications 15 years down the track.
But what if we changed the way we thought about our periods and chose to see them differently.
As a gift.
As an opportunity to connect deeper with ourselves.
Because the truth is… we aren’t supposed to feel like crap when it’s that time of the month. PMS isn’t normal. We aren’t meant to feel bloated. We crave chocolate because our bodies need more magnesium and iron during this time.
These signs and symptoms are messages from our bodies begging to be heard. And because we often medicate ourselves, we are blocked to hearing them.
If we as women, can begin to harness the discomfort we feel inside, and learn use it in a positive way, we can cultivate beautiful self-love and self-care rituals when we need it most.
At certain times of the month, our bodies require us to go inward, slow down and reconnect with ourselves. We need to expect less from ourselves during these times and create space to rest and hibernate. At other times of the month, our hormones change and we have more energy to go out into the world, partake in higher intensity exercise, create things and get sh*t done.
Just like Mother Nature, our female bodies have an innate intelligence to mirror her natural rhythms and cycles. We wax and wane like the moon, ebb and flow like the tides and bloom and wither like flora and fauna. Our moods as well as our physical and emotional needs during different times of our cycle resemble the characteristics of the different seasons, moon cycles and feminine archetypes.
Once we gain an understanding of this, we can prepare ourselves as we transition into each phase of our menstrual cycle and hold space to give ourselves what we need. We also liberate ourselves from feeling as though we always need to be ‘on’ and out ‘doing’ and give ourselves permission to stop, connect and go inward.
When we truly live by the whispers of natural rhythms and seasons held within our bodies, PMS symptoms disappear, we are more connected to our bodies, and can show up as the best versions of ourselves so we can be of service to others. It truly has a ripple effect on everything around us.
“After having irregular, painful periods and bouts of secondary amenorrhea (absent periods for longer than 6 months), I have been consciously following my cycles to gain a better understanding of my mental, physical and emotional states at different times of the month. And I cannot tell you the difference it has made. Life changing in fact. I now look forward to her coming. I know what to give myself and I know the right foods to eat and the supplements to take in the build up to her arrival. And you can too.”
The information below is based on a typical 28 day cycle. As we are all different, our cycle lengths vary for different women. This can also be dependent upon our stress levels, diet and lifestyles.
Menstruation – days 1-7
Winter | New Moon | Crone | Old Age | Yin |
A time of inward focus and reflection
This is shedding the lining of the uterus. Yup, we are bleeding. As estrogen rises sends a message to the brain to prepare for a new cycle. You may experience cramps and slight pain in your lower back and overall body sensitivity.
As your estrogen levels drop, you may find yourself feeling tired but also pretty relaxed during this time.
Move gently. Practice restorative movements like Yin yoga. Get outside and take a walk in nature to avoid stagnation of your energy levels. When your start to feel your body gaining more energy, you can start to increase the intensity.
During this time your body is requiring more magnesium, calcium, vitamin C and iron rich foods. Our body’s natural intelligence craves specific foods high in these nutrients. Nourish and support your body with dark chocolate, bananas, brazil nuts, Greek yoghurt, salmon, free range eggs, parsley and leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach. Remember to drink plenty of water and liquids such as bone broths and herbal teas such as peppermint, fennel and red raspberry leaf.
Pre-Ovulation – days 7-14
Spring | Waxing Moon | Maiden | Childhood & Adolescence | Increasing Yang, Decreasing Yin |
A time of dreaming and brainstorming new creative ideas
Aunty Flow has packed up and gone back home… Woohoo! A message is sent to your ovaries to release another egg and at the same time, estrogen levels are on the rise and your cervical lining is getting ready to house another egg.
Your energy is increasing more and more each day. Now is the time to start feeling into your creative ideas and begin to put action into place around your projects. One step at a time.
You’ve got the ability to handle slight more intense and challenging forms of exercise. Up the yoga and up the intensity as your energy levels climb.
During this time load up on foods rich in vitamin Bs and D to help balance your hormones. Eat the colours to the rainbow as your body needs lots of antioxidants to help boost the immune system and repair cells. Oh, and beetroot is also awesome at the moment as it’s high nitric acid content helps with blood circulation, especially for down there.
Ovulation – days 14-21
Summer | Full Moon | Mother | Adulthood | Yang |
A time of creation, celebration and manifestation
As your oestrogen levels continue to rise, you look and feel amazing! This is the time you are primed for reproduction so you are glowing inside and out (of the bedroom)… The downside of this, right after ovulation day your skin may start to break out around the jawline due to sudden hormonal changes. Take extra care of your skin during this time. If you’re prone to breakouts, opt for an oil free moisturiser during the next few days.
Physical, emotional, spiritual and mental energy is at an all time high. It’s Summer! We are social, warm, engaging and loving. Get out an enjoy yourself. Dance until dawn, your mind and body can handle it this week.
This is the time to push yourself physically in terms of fitness and exercise. Your brimming energy allows you to practice more intense styles of yoga such as kundalini and vinyasa along with high intensity cardio workouts.
Eat what you feel. Eat foods you love! Go out and have a glass of wine at your favourite restaurant. Indulge a little. You deserve it.
Pre-Menstruation – days 21 – 28
Autumn | Waning Moon | Queen | Mid Adulthood | Decreasing Yang, Increasing Yin |
A time of letting go, reflecting and withdrawing – This is the part of the month we often dread !
The imbalance of progesterone and oestrogen post ovulation can affect serotonin levels and bring on anxiety, restlessness, irritability and a depressed mood. Hello PMS. You may feel physically achey, bloated, moody and craving certain foods. The good news is, once you are aware of this, you can support your body nutritionally and mentally by following the recommendations below. After a couple of months, you’ll find PMS symptoms start to dissipate as you will be nurturing your body and giving it the love it needs during this time.
As your energy levels start to decrease, you’ll start to feel tired and sensitive. You may experience darker emotions and a heavy mood. You’ll feel a tendency for more alone time and self care. Gradually start to go into hibernation mode and and begin to cut back on your social commitments. During this time you’ll naturally gravitate towards more of an inward focus. Take time to meditate, journal and sleep.
Start to gradually decrease the intensity of your exercise to more rejuvenating and recovery modes such as walking in nature and gentle yoga practices. Find ways to move your body which deeply nourish your body and mind.
Make a conscious effort to eat clean, alkaline foods to support liver detoxification such as leafy green vegetables, fennel, lemons and limes, green juices, broth based soups and herbal teas such as lemongrass, ginger and dandelion. Limit salty foods to avoid bloating and fluid retention.