Slowing down is an alien concept to most of us. The culture in which we live likes us to be speedy, efficient and productive. If we are slow and seemingly unproductive it is often seen as a sign of weakness or laziness. It’s certainly not encouraged.
But those of us who have a menstrual cycle are really missing a trick here.
What our menstrual cycle wants
Our bodies, hearts and minds naturally slow down premenstrually – a few days or up to two weeks before our period starts. This can be the time of our cycle when we feel most stressed and overwhelmed.
I know from five years of practicing menstrual cycle awareness that part of the difficulty I have experienced at that time is because I don’t notice that my system is slowing down, or I may notice, but not do anything about it. I keep going at my usual busy pace. That’s when I get frustrated and frazzled.
I’m pleased to say that there is another way.
How to slow down
By tracking my menstrual cycle, I know that I have a decline in energy five days before my period is due, so I start to slow down. I still do the same things, but I move and work at a slower pace. And then two days before my period comes my energy drops again. Now I take breaks during the day and go to bed early. These are not big changes, but they make such a difference. I am less stressed, no longer exhausted and much better able to deal with the challenging emotions that come up at this time. I can hold them without having a mini-meltdown – at myself or others. Appropriate yoga practices can also help me drop down a gear.
When my period comes I go really slow. I pare my life down to the bare essentials – as little work as I can get away with, eating, drinking and sleeping.
Slowing down used to be impossible. I felt I had so much to do and the sky would fall in if I didn’t do it. But when I slowed down, it didn’t.
I used to think that I was the only one who could do all these things. But then I discovered that my partner was quite happy to help with shopping, cooking and washing.
Why slow down?
How can I just stop when there is so much to be done?
It’s simple. I gain so many benefits from living in sync with my cycle in this way but the main two are:
- Premenstrual and period times are when I get ideas about what I need to do next in my life. If I don’t slow down this gets lost in my busyness. I don’t notice the clarity or pertinent thoughts slip my mind and I can’t remember them later.
- Because I’ve taken it easy, after my period and for the whole of my next menstrual cycle I have more energy and focus, can work more productively and feel so much more content. This more than makes up for the time I take off during my period. I get more done in a whole menstrual cycle and with greater ease than I used to.
What’s not to like?
Yes, slowing down is easier said than done when you have a job, a family to look after, a house to run and numerous other things you love to do! It’s an art that takes time to develop and requires regular refinement. Begin with small steps: once you get a taste of the benefits they bring, you will come back to those small but significant changes and they will grow of their own volition.
I hope this helps – do let me know how you get on.
Thanks to Ray Hennessy on Unsplash for the gorgeous photo.