The traditional nine-to-five work life was introduced in the 1920s when only 20% of women were in the workforce. Fast forward to 2021, 46% of workers are women, yet the corporate calendar and productivity standards have stayed the same. Men’s biochemical makeup differs from women’s, making productivity expectations inherently gender-biased. Regardless, we can keep up; it’s just about optimizing our bodies, and cycle-syncing is one way to do so.
Cycle-syncing is a change in lifestyle habits to match the phases of your menstrual cycle. Periods are viewed as a handicapping experience- and though the discomfort is real- getting a period is unique to women, symbolizing our strength and necessity in this world.
“We’ve made it into this unfortunate, uncelebrated event, and it’s the most beautiful thing on the planet. We really need to embrace it,” Monica J.R. Williams-Rilley, MD, a Board Certified Family Physician and a Cliovana Expert Practitioner specializing in functional medicine and sexual health and wellness, passionately states. Our periods are a gift. Therefore, we should be mindful of how we steward that gift, utilizing it to maximize our lives. Once that perspective is adopted, it’s easier to become eager to center our lifestyles around it.
The first step of cycle-syncing is consistently documenting start and end dates to discover your body’s pattern and behaviors. “Once you start to see that, then it’s so much easier to be proactive and not reactive,” Dr. Williams-Riley says. Some valuable apps to track your period are Flo and Clue.
Next is understanding the phases of your cycle and the intensity of tasks to assign yourself during those times.
Phase One – Menstruation
The beginning of your cycle is the day you start to bleed, and this phase lasts five to seven days. Women start to cramp, bloat, and feel exhaustion during this time. Since responsibilities can’t just end, products like Tap help to relieve pain.
“All the hormones- estrogen, progesterone, and even testosterone- are at their lowest point,” Dr. Williams-Riley explains, “you should be doing less or taking time to relax.” Low-impact activities, meetings requiring minimal energy, or projects that take less effort should be scheduled during the menstruation phase.
Our bodies won’t feel like doing much, and that’s okay. It’s normal to feel guilty for slowing down initially, but remember, “your hormones are at a place where you need to support them.” Taking on less is more productive because you work with and not against your body.
Phase Two- Follicular
This is the ‘I can do bad all by myself’ phase. As soon as your period ends, there’s a rise in energy. “It’s not a coincidence,” Dr. Williams-Riley emphasizes, “your estrogen levels are going back up at this point.” During these seven days, finish the paper, try something new, have a complicated conversation, and work on the project you’ve been procrastinating on. “This part of the cycle is good for the hard work that you need to do,” she says.
Phase Three- Ovulatory
We all have those tasks which suck all of our energy. The Ovulation phase is the best 24-72 hour window to complete them, says Dr. Williams-Riley. “Ovulation is when an egg will drop, so we see spikes in our testosterone and estrogen levels. When estrogen levels are highest, you can be proactive and do things you may not have done before.” Performance is at its peak, so the critical tasks that need laser-sharp focus are best to be finished during this time.
Phase Four- Luteal
The two weeks left in our cycle are where we feel most ‘normal.’ This phase is “special because progesterone is at its highest and progesterone is in charge of calmness.” You’re no longer overstimulated or understimulated; you’re just cruising. This is the time to knock out the rest of your agenda items and prepare to do less work soon because your menstrual is returning.
To conclude, Dr. Williams-Riley emphasized the importance of nutrition when cycle-syncing. High-caffeinated drinks and salty and fatty foods “are things that will throw your cycle off.” Intaking foods with nutrients is always the preferred method to fuel your body, but natural supplements like Lunar Sync, which align the nutrients you need to cycle phases, can help.
About the author: Shelby Denise Smith is a full-time Social Media Editor and part-time Freelance Writer. She loves writing about news, wellness, and beauty and hosting impactful conversations with influencers and experts on those subjects.