The building block of woman’s health

I have messed around with creating a kind of subjective “how I am feeling in my body” scale, with elements like, flexibility, energy, stamina or how clear is my skin? This kind of measurement scale is not something I can ever stick to over the long haul, but it can be effective as a push when I have been feeling particularly crappy, or as I mentioned yesterday, when I have let things get out of control and have some serious motivation to get back on track.

For me, motivation is a tremendous variable. I couldn’t depend on motivation alone. Intrigued by why motivation sometimes seemed easier than at other times, I followed up on a hunch.

The invisible key

One seemingly unmeasurable, yet truly critical-to-measure area I track is my monthly cycles. Learning to live in harmony with those cycles has proven to alleviate so many worries about my mental health and capacity to make progress.

For a looooong time, I felt like I was living the same cycle of motivation-crazy efficient work-sudden drop-off in productivity-near depression-spark of creativity-motivation. I hated feeling like this. I wondered what in the world could be wrong with me, that I was cyclically motivated and depressed. Motivated and depressed. Motivated and depressed.

Then I read an article that explained the impact of the hormonal cycle on a woman’s work life, and my eyes popped open. Obviously. The different hormones which rule the different phases of a monthly cycle effect us in so many real ways. It simply made sense that this would have an impact in how we felt about our work.

Making my monthly cycle work for me

The trick then became to organize my work monthly, or at least, cyclically. Leave space for myself to have the I could write for 25 hours a day ten-day period in the beginning-to-middle of my cycle. Then, leave space for myself to do the less (to me) creatively taxing work, like working on a story outline when the creative spark began to shine a little less bright and feel a little less all-consuming. And then, when my creative motivation was at its very lowest, have a specific list of mundane tasks, like making visuals and taking photos and proofreading. Finally, there would always be a little uptick in energy, just before the all-consuming logorrhea would begin, where I could, with great clarity, be able to make a list of what needed to get done in the next month.

This understanding and harnessing of the ups and downs of my monthly cycle allowed me to finish two books in two years, while taking care of my family full-time. (Now if there were just a point in my monthly cycle during which I could be motivated query literary agents, that would be perfect.)

When things start getting wonky

Of course, tracking my monthly cycles had other benefits as well. It became obvious when my cycles started becoming increasingly irregular and my mood swings more violent that there was something off. Understanding the link between the irregular cycle and the mood swings was critical to gaining perspective of this newfound unpredictable pattern that is peri-menopause.

So yes, I spent several years learning how to harness my monthly cycles for greatest productivity, only to find my research blown to bits by menopause. But I learned so much through living in harmony with my cycles, including ways to mitigate the effects of hormones and how to motivate myself through the inevitable crashes and binges that shifting levels can create.

The effects and exact details are intimate and different for each woman. Learning to manage and harness them can lead to greater satisfaction, contentment and even greater efficiency, if we are willing to let ourselves be guided by what our bodies are telling us.

Ways to get started

When I first started tracking my monthly cycles years ago it was simply a little star on a calendar to indicate the first day. Then, when I got to thinking more seriously about how this might impact how I worked, I started a little notebook, writing down simply how many days each cycle lasted.

This proved helpful when time came to attempt getting pregnant. I was able to follow more or less precisely the estimated fertile times of the month.

When pregnancy was waylaid, I started getting serious about tracking symptoms and how I was feeling. Pimples, bloating, mood swings, the whole nine yards. When a new symptom would rear its head, I would write down on what day it was happening.

That was when I discovered just how much my creative ebb and flow was impacted by hormones.

After my first child was born I discovered the Clue App, which made it possible to track everything on my tablet. It was through the Clue App that I realized just how wonky my cycles were starting to get.

There are surely other apps out there. I encourage you to find one that works for you.

Conclusion

Sometimes it’s not that we are going crazy, it’s that our hormones are going crazy.

Get serious about tracking your cycles, ladies. Being active about planning around your cyclical low points and your cyclical high points can help mitigate their impact. Learning to live in harmony with your monthly cycle will change how you feel about your life for the better!

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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