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Productivity or Period Problems?
There is an old saying – “work smarter not harder” – and as a woman, this phrase takes on an entirely new meaning. Many women are working hard to prove they can do everything their male counterparts can do. While we are capable of doing everything a man can do – the key to our success is doing it at our own energetic pace.
One of the biggest reasons we have period problems is we are ‘trying to work like men’ when our hormones are very different. This doesn’t change our capability, just the rhythm with which we plan our work and our lives.
Men experience hormone fluctuations over 24 hours. Women experience them over 28-30 days. This means that there are days you have lots of energy and feel like you can multi-task like a champion and there are days you want to curl up with a good book and not interact with others.
These changes are normal. Let me say this again – what you are feeling is normal.
We generally spend the majority of our time working against our natural body rhythms because our culture favors productivity all the time. If you look outside the window at nature – nature doesn’t stay in a flowering and fruit-producing state, all the time and neither do we.
When we work against these natural rhythms in our body, we see period problems arise. Cramps, bloating, headaches, brown blood, irregular cycles, PMS/PMDD and so much more are symptoms of disharmony in our body that result from pushing too hard when we should be pulling back.
The key to reducing period problems and increasing our productivity is the knowledge of our cycle.
When we learn the phases of our cycle and the gifts each phase gives us, we are able to plan our work in a way where we get to be the best version of ourselves in everything we do and reduce period symptoms at the same time.
There are two phases to your menstrual month with two smaller events nested inside of them. The follicular phase is the first half of your cycle, and it begins on the first day of fresh red blood flow and ends at ovulation. Menstruation is the smaller event nested within the follicular phase. The luteal phase is the second half of your cycle, and it kicks off with the smaller event of ovulation and continues until your bleeding begins again.
The follicular phase is all about substance. You lose substance for the first 4-6 days during your bleed then you build substance preparing the endometrial lining and egg for the month.
The luteal phase is about energy and heat. It is signaled by a rise in basal body temperature which confirms ovulation has taken place. The egg is released, and if fertilized, there is a lot of energy that goes into the early stage of development of the fetus. Even when pregnancy isn’t the goal, the basal body temperature rises and remains elevated for the rest of the cycle until it drops, and the bleed arrives.
Why is this important?
When we learn to work with the natural energy that fluctuates during our cycle we are no longer ‘swimming upstream against the current’, making ourselves more tired. We go further faster and with less effort allowing the current to carry us. When you use less energy working against your hormone changes, your period symptoms go down.
Menstruation is for less strenuous tasks – mentally and physically.
- Things like:
- Self-paced work
- Introverted tasks like bookkeeping, statement reconciliation, and any other tasks where you need people to leave you alone and allow you to focus your full attention on a task.
Late Follicular phase is when our energy grows as we get closer to ovulation. We are able to increase the demands on our bodies.
- Things like:
- Group work
- More verbal communication-focused work
- Longer workdays as we get closer to ovulation
Ovulation is the highest point for our energy (or it should be – if it’s not and you have symptoms during this time, your body is asking for support.) This is where we flourish on all fronts.
- The optimal time for social activities – podcasts, live recordings, interviews, networking, presentations, hanging out with friends
- The optimal time for headshots (yes – your face is more symmetrical and has a natural glow during this phase!)
- The peak time for athletic endeavors
Late Luteal phase is when we start to pull inward as we make our way through the rest of this phase towards the period beginning again.
- Until the week before our period, we are still very verbal and more extroverted in our energy so networking and social requirements are best planned here
- Planning tasks are optimal – strategic planning, trip planning, organizing, project management
- Mindful movement helps prepare the body for fewer cramps and clots during the period as this phase progresses. You are more susceptible to injury in the week before your period, so plan accordingly and take the intensity back.
When we learn to plan our workflow around our strengths, instead of the inner critic shaming us for not keeping up, we are able to optimize our productivity and at the same time reduce our period problems.
About the Author
Name: Adrienne Irizarry, PHc, HWH
Professional Title: CEO/Founder, Holistic Women’s Health Practitioner
Bio: Adrienne Irizarry, PHc, HWH is an East Asian medicine practitioner using non-invasive approaches to restoring harmony and health in women’s bodies. She uses her expertise as a certified pelvic steaming practitioner, certified Acutonics practitioner, herbalist, and Chinese nutritional therapist to educate and empower women to heal their bodies naturally. Adrienne was featured as a Top 10 Health Industry Disruptor for 2023 in Apple News and Grit Daily. She is a faculty member for the Acutonics Institute of Integrative Medicine, founder of the Tao of Women Institute, and hostess of the Reproductive Rebel podcast.
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