CYCLE SYNCING: THE MENSTRUATION PHASE
Welcome to the final chapter of our 4-part Cycle-syncing series, often referred to as our inner winter: the menstruation phase.
Cycle-syncing involves tailoring your daily routines, such as diet and exercise, to harmonise with the natural fluctuations in your menstrual cycle, aiming to enhance your well-being and productivity. The concept of cycle syncing was initially introduced by Alisa Vitti, an integrative nutritionist and expert on women's hormones, in her first book, "Woman Code," which was published in 2014.
Now, let's delve into the last chapter of this guide, the Menstruation phase, where we will explore the power of resting and renewal.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR INNER WINTER
If pregnancy does not occur during the ovulation phase, the lining of the uterus sheds to prepare for new growth. This comes with light or heavy bleeds, depending on the person, and it is known as Menstruation.
This allows our female reproductive system to continually prepare for the possibility of pregnancy, ensuring that the uterine lining is healthy and ready.
This phase is often seen as a time of rest and rejuvenation, similar to how winter is a time of hibernation and renewal in nature. It's a time for the body to recuperate and heal.
During menstruation, we typically experience low energy levels and might feel more sensitive. This phase is a perfect time to rest, be introspective, listen to your body, and practice self-compassion and self-care.
DURATION AND HORMONAL LANDSCAPE
Menstruation begins on the first day of our bleed, coinciding with the lowest estrogen and progesterone levels. This hormonal shift triggers the shedding of the uterine lining, often resulting in reduced energy levels and occasional pain and cramping. A typical period lasts 3-7 days, varying among women.
Hormones are the messengers between the mind and the body, constantly signalling to us what’s best for our reproduction. If our two top tier hormones (cortisol/stress & insulin/blood sugar) are off, this will show through symptoms of any kind (skin, digestive, mood, etc.) like PMS, which is abnormal!
As your energy levels are at their lowest during menstruation, it is important to prioritise self-care, rest, and engage in less physically demanding and more nurturing activities.
Although implementing self-care activities can be challenging amid a busy life, being kind to yourself, listening to your body’s needs, and respecting your boundaries will help your body to navigate this phase of regeneration.
Finding pockets of rest during your cycle creates small waves for a change from our patriarchal society in which we’ve existed for the last few thousand years.
Reaching out to friends and loved ones during this time can make you feel nurtured and supported.
Here are some nurturing activities to consider:
- Rest and Sleep
- Warm Baths
- Breathing exercises
- Reading or watching comforting content
- Skincare routines
EXERCISE DURING YOUR MENSTRUATION PHASE
As your hormone levels drop, so does your energy. Give yourself permission to slow down. The aim during this phase is relaxation, recharging, and regeneration. Engage in low-intensity workouts to align with your body's downward energy.
Gentle exercise during your period can alleviate pain, cramps, and boost your mood. Always listen to your body's cues and avoid pushing yourself too hard.
A special thanks to Kika for creating the "Gentle Flow Pilates Class" designed for the menstruation phase. It includes low-impact movements, gentle stretching, meditation, and calming floor exercises.
EXERCISES YOU CAN DO DURING YOUR MENSTRUATION PHASE:
- Gentle Yoga
- Nature walks
- Soft Pilates
NUTRITION DURING YOUR MENSTRUATION PHASE
During menstruation, your body requires extra energy for the shedding process, often leading to an increase in appetite. Nourish your body with healthy comfort foods such as soups, stews, and Buddha bowls to replenish lost iron and minerals due to blood loss.
Iron-rich foods like beans and leafy greens (e.g., spinach) are essential. Incorporate foods rich in B vitamins (e.g., eggs, nuts, mushrooms, and dark chocolate) to support energy levels. Additionally, consume vitamin C-rich foods (citrus, leafy greens, bell peppers, colorful fruits, and veggies) to enhance iron absorption. Seek out omega fatty acid-rich foods like avocados, wild-caught fish, hemp, sesame, and sunflower seeds for reducing inflammation and enhancing mood.
Recommended recipes for nourishment:
- Golden Milk Tonic to decongest and ground the body.
- Borsht (beet soup) for grounding.
- African Peanut Curry.
- Buddha Bowl.
OUTFITS INSPIRATION FOR YOUR MENSTRUAL PHASE
During this phase's bodily fluctuations and potential discomfort, it's natural to prefer comforting, soft, and grounding clothing without restrictive elements. Opt for dark colours for peace of mind in case of unexpected spotting, and consider added warmth over your abdomen to support your womb.
- Book: "Women Who Run With the Wolves" by Clarissa Pinkola Estes (celebrating the innate power of women).
- Playlist: We've lovingly compiled an Spotify playlist of our most beloved songs for this phase. Discover them right here
- Movie: "Frida" (showcasing strength in vulnerability and transforming pain into art).
You can find the part one (FOLLICULAR - SPRING) part two (OVULATION- SUMMER) and part three (LUTEAL - AUTUMN) of the series in our Cycle-Sync Category journal.
Indigo Luna xx.