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The Secret To Harnessing The Power Of Your Menstrual Cycle

A photo of Cherrelle Slaney, menstrual cycle and period educator, sitting on the bed wearing glasses while tucking her hair behind her ear.
Ah, the menstrual cycle. What’s the first thing that springs to mind when you hear this phrase? Your period? Right? Well, your cycle is more than just your period. I wanna discuss what the menstrual cycle actually is, what happens to your body through the cycle and how you can learn to work with it’s natural rhythm.

What is the menstrual cycle?

The menstrual cycle is the hormonal cycle your body goes through in order to prepare for a possible pregnancy. Whether you’re interested in getting pregnant or not, you cycle is worth getting to grips with. Working in sync with your cycle can be the key to enjoying the cycle as a whole, rather than just dreading your period every month.

The cycle can be broken down into 4 phases. Each of these phases comes with a set of hormonal changes that can affect your mood and your energy levels, as well as bringing physical changes to your body. You might not feel huge shifts between these phases, it might just feel like you slip gracefully from one phase to the next – much like the changing seasons of the year.

Menstrual Cycle Phases

The 4 phases of the menstrual cycle go as follows:

 

 • Menstruation (your period)

 

• Pre-ovulation

 

• Ovulation (when your ovary releases an egg)

 

• Premenstrual

What is menstruation?

Menstruation is another word for your period. Although you might think of you period as the end of your monthly cycle, Menstruation actually signals the very beginning of your cycle.

The first day you get bright red blood flow from your nether region, is day one. It’s important to note that if you get some spotting before your period, this is perfectly normal, but it doesn’t count as your first day. Wait for that full flow of blood. This is day one of your cycle.

While you’re menstruating, you might feel tired. Your body is doing a bloody big job behind the scenes. If you’re not pregnant this cycle, your oestrogen and progesterone levels drop which signals your body to shed the uterine lining. This is your period. These low oestrogen levels can cause you to feel tired and sluggish.

When you’re on your period, that tiredness you feel might seem like a bit of an inconvenience. You need to work, look after your children and maintain your home – but taking a rest while your bleeding is always a good idea. I know it might seem impossible when you have responsibilities to see to, and you may well feel guilty for taking some time off for something as “trivial” as your period, but as far as I am concerned – it’s essential. If you can learn to better prepare for your period, and let go of the guilt that surrounds taking a break, menstruation can become much more enjoyable.

Your perfect period plans might look like snuggling up on the couch with a hot water bottle, a snack and some Netflix – but if you can’t always take this much of a break while bleeding, do what you can to rest. If it helps, think of your period as your inner Winter – a time for hibernation.

What is the pre-ovulation phase?

The follicular phase is the time between menstruation, and ovulation. Just like thinking of your period as your inner Winter, you can think of your Follicular phase as your inner Spring. That tiredness you felt during your period has started to wane, and you’re ready for new life.

After you finish bleeding, you get a steady increase in oestrogen. Remember how we said that low oestrogen levels cause tiredness? Well, as your oestrogen levels start to increase, you start to have more energy. You’ve awoken from the period slumber and are ready to start exploring the world. Because each person will have a slightly different cycle length, it’s hard to say which day of your cycle this will happen for you, but when you finish bleeding is a big indicator.

During your follicular phase you might notice that you’re coming at life with a new found curiosity. It’s a great time to do some learning or try something new. You might also notice that any worries or insecurities you had when you were pre-menstrual start to melt away. This is a time for feeling energised and carefree.

Charting your cycle is a great way to start to notice patterns in how you’re feeling month to month. All you need to do is jot down how you’re feeling on a day-to-day basis. You can do this in the corner of your diary or in a journal. It doesn’t have to be complex. Just a few words about your general mood and your energy levels will be enough, although if you want to go in deeper with this, by all means, do!

What is ovulation?

Ovulation is when the egg is released from the ovary. Those rising oestrogen levels you experienced during your follicular phase come to a peak at ovulation. This means that when you’re ovulating (and for a few days either side) you are feeling super energetic. Think of this phase like your inner Summer – you’ve got lot of energy, you’re feeling super sociable and you’re generally just loving life.

Remember how I said before that if we can learn to better prepare for our period we can make it more enjoyable? This is the time to prepare. Granted, you probably won’t bleed for a couple of weeks yet, but making the most of this peak in energy can really pay off when you’re feeling like you want to take it easy.

Suddenly you’re feeling like superwoman, you’re working harder, being way more productive and are generally a “get shit done” kinda girl during this phase. Use than energy to get things done now that you might not have the headspace for later. Batch cooking, getting big projects completed or being sociable are all good ideas here.

Think back to when you were last on your period. What was one thing you really struggled to do while you were bleeding? How can you make the most of the energy you have now to better support you during your next period. What can you get done now that will allow you to take a break later?

What is the premenstrual phase?

The premenstrual, or luteal phase, is the time between ovulation and menstruation. Once you’ve ovulated, your oestrogen levels start to decline and progesterone starts to dominate this part of your cycle. The role of progesterone is to prepare the womb for a possible pregnancy by thickening the uterine lining – much in the same way that animals spend the Autumn preparing their nests for hibernation. Yes, you can bet that this phase of the cycle is like your inner Autumn.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume you’ve probably heard of, and maybe even experienced, PMS. In fact, it was my self-confessed, semi-psychotic PMS symptoms that really prompted me to get to grips with learning about the menstrual cycle.

Anxiety, moodiness and anger can all come out during the premenstrual phase, and while it’s easy to write these things off as PMS, they can actually serve a greater purpose in the grand scheme of your life.

Some of the annoyances and worries you experience during the premenstrual phase might be unwarranted, it’s true. But some of them might have been bothering you for some time, you just didn’t notice as much when you were feeling on top of the world during ovulation. It’s worth taking note of these things and coming back to them once you start your period. When you’re bleeding, it’s much easier to be reflective of whether or not these things are really bothering you, and to find solutions for how you can change them.

Tracking your cycle

As I already mentioned, tracking your cycle is the gateway into fully understanding how you are feeling through each phase of the cycle. It doesn’t have to be difficult – in fact it’s really simple, yet it’s a great tool for getting to know yourself and your body better.
Enter your details below and grab your free cycle tracking sheet.
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7 Simple Ways To Cope With Premenstrual Anxiety

A photo of Cherrelle Slaney, period and menstrual cycle educator.
One of the number one problems I hear about from my followers is how they get stress and anxiety before their period. I’ll bet you feel the same way. It’s a common problem for those of us who are suffering with PMS.

What is PMS?

PMS stands for Pre-Menstrual Syndrome. PMS is the abbreviation used to categorise common symptoms experienced by menstruators in the luteal (AKA premenstrual) phase. These symptoms usually show up a week or two before your period starts, and they tend to disappear after your period.

Your natural hormones have a lot to answer for when it comes to the ups and downs you experience week to week. How you feel during your period is quite different to how you feel one week later. How you feel when you’re premenstrual is very different again.

Progesterone is a hormone that rises in your premenstrual phase. It helps prepare the womb for a possible pregnancy. It can also make you feel anxious, irritable and depressed or give you mood swings. These are typical PMS symptoms.

One other thing that can be attributed to a rise in progesterone is a lack of focus. You might find you feel a bit foggy-headed before your period. A lack of focus might mean you’re finding tasks more difficult. This in itself can make you feel stressed.

Extra anxiety and stress caused by a lack of focus only adds to the general anxiety and stress you might notice when you’re premenstrual. Knowing how you’re likely to feel during PMS week can help you optimise your time and efforts to work in sync with your cycle.

PMS Relief

You can balance your stress and anxiety by taking time to relax. If you understand how you usually feel when you’re premenstrual you can plan ahead and carve out some “me-time”. A little self-care can go a long way.

Here are some of my favourite ways to de-stress before your period.

Essential oils for PMS Relief

A PMS roll-on essential oil blend with linen bag and decorative dried orange slices.
Opinions on essential oils are a bit of a mixed bag. There are people that swear by them for their healing properties, and there are people who say it’s a load of old nonsense. Research on the effectiveness of essential oils is limited, but studies indicate that they may be beneficial for stress and anxiety relief.

You can buy special aromatherapy blends design to help with PMS symptoms. They can help with premenstrual pain, as well as helping to balance your mood. This roll-on blend from Floatin Feather is a lovely mix of Bergamot, Clary Sage, Marjoram, Geranium and Palmarosa.

Healthy Boundaries

When you’re PMS-ing you might get stressed out more easily than usual. Set some healthy boundaries around what you are and aren’t willing to accept in your life right now. Speaking to the people in your life to let them know how you’re feeling can be really beneficial.

If you feel like you’ve got too much on your plate already, say no to new commitments. You don’t have to come up with excuses, a simple “no, I can’t do that right now” is sufficient. If you’re struggling with stress, reschedule plans that you don’t feel like facing at the moment.

PMS Pampering

It’s okay to want some alone time when you’re premenstrual. A soak in the tub to relax is a great idea. Put on some relaxing music and shut the world out for a little while.

Submerging yourself in water helps to calm the nervous system which can reduce stress and improve your mood. A warm bath can also help with increasing your serotonin levels which are linked with happiness and wellbeing.


This pampering gift set comes from Cheshire’s Finest Soap and is an absolute steal at only £12.50. It contains a bath bomb, bath salts, a bar of soap, a soap bag, a tea light in a holder and a cup of tea! The perfect treat to yourself when you’re feeling stressed.

Meditation For Stress & Anxiety

Meditation has become more and more popular recently. Although you might think meditation is only for buddhist monks, meditation is simply about clearing your mind and calming your body. You don’t have to sit for hours, just a few minutes of silent practise every day can be really beneficial.

There are a bunch of meditation apps out there and you can also listen to guided meditations for anxiety on Youtube. I am currently using Balance app www.balanceapp.com which has a range of meditation practises with different goals. You can use them to de-stress, gain focus or wind down.

Take Shortcuts

Taking the easy route when your focus is lacking can help to take off some of the stress. You might not have the concentration for cooking a 12 course meal at the end of a long day at work. Taking some shortcuts is fine.

Taking the easy route when you’re stressed does not make you lazy. You don’t have to push yourself to give 110% all of the time. Work smarter not harder.

Remove Distractions

If you’re trying to be productive and struggling with a lack of focus, it makes sense to remove distractions. Having loud music on or trying to have conversations while you’re busy can lead to you making mistakes. This will only increase your stress levels further.

Setting some boundaries and not allowing yourself to be interrupted will help. This os beneficial whether you’re trying to work or whether you’re trying to relax. Switch your phone to “Do Not Disturb” or aeroplane mode. Nobody wants to be answering texts while they’re trying to enjoy a hot bath.

Plan Ahead

If you know you’re more likely to be stressed out during your premenstrual phase, you can plan ahead. Get high intensity work done earlier in your cycle when you’re less likely to get stressed about it. Your ovulation phase is ideal for this.

This is called cycle syncing. Essentially, it means working with your hormonal ups and downs to best optimise your time, energy and efforts. If you’re not sure when your ovulation phase is, take my free menstrual masterclass to find out.
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