How I cycle sync with my business
For the past two years I've been going with my flow. And it's changed my life.
What is cycle syncing?
Cycle syncing is a way of living in tune with our hormonal cycle. At the moment it's kind of starting to rise in prevalence as more people talk about how they're using it to optimise their time, energy and health.
The concept has been made popular by Alisa Vitti an integrative nutritionist and the founder of FLOLiving.com. (Her book Woman Code has changed my life).
Cycle syncing helps you 'hack' your cycle. It provides a guide of how to best eat, exercise and socialise throughout the month to take advantage of your hormonal changes.
We live in a world dominated by the 24-hour body clock. Diets, exercise and lifestyles revolve around a routine that is great for men, but fails to take into account our unique cycles. Have you noticed that some weeks your workout is a lot easier than others? Or your capacity for socialising differs from one end of the month to the other?
When I discovered this, I made some intentional changes to my lifestyle. Now I'm more aware of what my hormones are doing and how the food I'm eating or the activities I'm participating in are supporting me.
Cycle seasons and how they work for me
Menstrual phase (3 - 7 days)
The day you start bleeding is the start of a new cycle. Think of this time as your inner 'winter'. It's time to be slow, quiet, stay warm and rest. Just like you like to do during actual winter.
If I can I'll take the day off, but if not I'll plan to work from home. I still have a corporate office job, while running The Periodical part-time, so it's not always easy to ask for time off or to work from home (pre-pandemic of course). It helps that my cycle is regular and I can plan ahead. If I can help it, I'll try not to do any public speaking, but if I can't avoid any of these things, I give myself grace and slow down in other areas. A meditation to ground me always helps.
Social activities are kept to a minimum if I can help it.
I use this time to reflect on the previous month. What worked well? What do I want to change for the next month? According to Alisa, the communication between our left and right hemispheres of the brain are more powerful at this time, so we're actually more intuitive and open to gut feelings. So if I'm feeling something in particular, I'll write it down to come back to the following week so I'm not reacting while in my winter space.
Journalling is great in this phase. I'll make an almond cacao, light a candle and pour words onto my pages. It's like therapy some months.
Some women feel restless or dissatisfied at this time. It's normal. Write it down and then in the coming weeks find ways to address it if it keeps coming up. I've definitely found recurring issues arise which I wouldn't have noticed, nor addressed if I hadn't been tuning in.
For food I plan ahead and have pre-cooked dinners in the fridge and freezer. A lot of dhals and soups! Of course I have lots of tea and chocolate on hand.
Everyone periods differently. I've suffered years of painful periods so some days I can't move from the couch and walking to the kitchen is an achievement. But if I can I'll go for a walk or do some gentle yoga. (This is my favourite yoga video. I'll do this video then meditate and sometimes finish with a journal session. It's such a nice way to self-care).
I used to believe that I had to push myself just as hard at the gym, keeping up at Body Attack while my body begged to be horizontal with a heat pack. Cycle syncing was a big fat permission slip which allowed me to finally take a break when I needed to.
Follicular phase (7 - 10 days)
Like your inner-spring. As estrogen rises I begin to feel more energetic. I start to action some of the ideas or reflections I had in the menstrual phase.
Just like spring, this phase is a time for new beginnings and creativity. So from a business perspective, I plan out the goals I want to achieve for the month. I find I'm super creative and flowing with ideas. In my corporate space, I feel 'on' and love rallying the team around a fresh campaign or diving into strategy. I even try to plan brainstorming sessions for this week.
I'll also try to plan meetings and catch-ups and events during this time as it's one of the highest energy points in the cycle.
Exercise is also back on the agenda, and while personally I've found that hitting the gym hard is not for my body type, I'll do longer walks, more intense yoga and reformer pilates during this time.
Ovulation phase (3 - 4 days)
Your summer time. And just like summer, you want to get out and about and have fun. Estrogen is peaking and you're at your most fertile.
It's a time for connection and conversation. So if something is coming up for you regularly in your menstrual phase, this is the phase to voice it. For example if I'm getting frustrated with my husband over something (usually to do with cleaning the house, let's be honest) then I'll try have a more constructive and less attacking conversation now.
And from a relationship perspective, according to John Gray (who Beyond Mars and Venus) he says that going on a date* during our ovulation phase is the best way to make the most of our increase estrogen and help keep those good vibes going into the next phase...PMS. So when my period finishes I pop a range of dates in the calendar and hubs knows, that's when to plan our next date.
From a work perspective, I'm still feeling really creative and 'on'. I use this time for big picture planning and intentional networking with new people. And in my corporate career, this is when I'd plan a chat about my career goals and ask for a raise. It's also a time, if I can, that I'd try to do some public speaking or something outside of my comfort zone because I find I'm much more confident and eloquent.
Luteal phase (10 - 14 days)
The autumn phase, and commonly dictated by PMS. But it doesn't have to be. When we balance our hormones we can actually balance our PMS.
I used to dread this time, but maybe it's the older I get, or the more I appreciate my cycle, I've come to enjoy this time. It's me gradually slowing down. Turning inward and listening to what I need. It's long chats with girlfriends (which helps draw us into our feminine) and completing tasks.
One thing I notice is my desire to nest. I clean, rearrange, get on Etsy and buy cushions. The ratio of estrogen to progesterone in this phase makes you notice things around you that you didn't see before.
This hormonal shift actually makes you more equipped for the detailed, admin tasks you might not have been willing to do when riding the high of summer. I'll use this time to finish the tasks that are outstanding like writing an article I've been meaning to do or filing away my tax receipts (so boring!).
It's also a time when we crave nesting and self-care. It's a great time to cook for the upcoming menstrual phase, or just relax with a book on the couch. I'll slow down social commitments and relish more in one-on-one catch ups over lunch rather than rushing out for drinks with different friends every night after work. If I slow down and look after myself in this phase, my PMS doesn't get the better of me and my menstrual phase feels a little less intense.
I'll also scale back the intensity of my workouts and move to slower yoga and pilates in the final five days of my cycle.
Five ways to start cycle syncing
If this has prompted you to think about how you could support yourself throughout your cycle here are some ways to get started:
1. Read Women Code or checkout Alisa's website.
2. Start tracking your period. I use Flo to track my symptoms and MyFlo to get updates on how to cycle sync for my phase.
3. Start small by noticing how you feel throughout your cycle. Think about some areas you'd like to improve.
4. Set an intention or activity for each stage of your cycle for the cycle after you observe it.
5. Give yourself grace. The whole point of cycle syncing is self-care and support for our hormones. You won't be perfect (take it from me!) but if you start small, you can build up some habits that will support your going forward.
I hope sharing what I do is helpful. And if you have suggestions for what works for you, pop them in the comments below.
*Gray's advice is for heterosexual couples but I want to acknowledge that this isn't limited to male/female couples and can be applied to same-sex couples as well.