Working Against Nature: Productivity At All Costs
We live in a world and culture where productivity is expected AT. ALL. TIMES. If we’re calling a spade a spade here, we live in a capitalist, patriarchal framework that operates on the assumption that every single day is the same as the last, in terms of available energy to give. Here’s why: Our society is based on the male hormone cycle. Yup, you heard me right, men have a hormone cycle, too! Instead of having a month-long hormone cycle like people who menstruate, men go through an entire hormone cycle every 24 hours. So from the male perspective, it makes sense to expect approximately the same energy levels every day, but anyone with a menstrual cycle knows this simply isn't true!
At different times of the month, with the ebb and flow of our hormones, there are different levels of energy and productivity available. And that isn’t something to try to change and make fit into the current model, it’s something to be embraced and honored.
When we try to fight against our cycles and work at an unsustainable pace, 24/7, expecting our energy output to always be the same, we end up being less effective, on edge and drain ourselves dry.
Power exists in the cycles of menstruation and the moon. If we pay attention and are aware of these natural cycles, we can harness their energies to become more productive and present, with less effort.
Kate Northrup’s book Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time and Energy Management for Busy Moms is amazing for guiding us into the journey of becoming aware of our natural cycles, and the cycles of mother nature to propel us into productivity and rest. Don’t be fooled by the subtitle! I read it before I became a mom and found it really helpful. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it.
Staying Connected to Our Cycles As A Form of Personal Awareness & Empowerment
Ever notice that a couple weeks before your period starts, your skin is glowing, you’re ready to take on the world, tackle that big project, socialize, put on those skin tight jeans and overall, you’re just feelin’ yourself? And then your period comes and just getting out of the house feels like it takes SO MUCH EFFORT? Welcome to the energies of your cycle, my friend!
With every phase of the menstrual cycle, hormones change and so does your energy. Imagine if you were so connected to these cycles that you could use them to your advantage so when you need to be productive, you’re on fire and when your body is naturally needing rest, you take the time to fill your cup so you can keep yourself in balance, connected and grounded.
As one of my favorite singers of all time Sam Cooke sings: “Don’t fight it, feel it.” Instead of fighting against our natural rhythms, why not work with them to enhance our lives for the better?
What Does Each Menstrual & Moon Phase Offer Us?
According to Kate Northrup here are the phases of the menstrual and moon cycles with their corresponding energies:
Follicular Phase / Waxing Crescent Moon: Biologically, this is when egg-producing follicles in your ovaries begin to mature and the ovary gets ready to release an egg. This phase comes right after you bleed and is when the lining of your uterus begins to build up again to welcome a possible pregnancy. Energetically, this phase carries high vibe energy! Use this time to plant seeds of creativity, reflect on what you desire, brainstorm, initiate new projects. Like the little seeds/eggs getting ready in your ovaries, this is the time to plant your own thought seeds for future manifestation.
Focus on: Things that require high physical energy, creativity, planning, planting seeds for goals, new beginnings.
Ovulation / Full Moon: Biologically, your body has released an egg that is ready and available for fertilization. You’re releasing pheromones, little chemical messengers that literally make you more attractive to others (Heeeellooo world!). Energetically, you’re ready to take on the world. This is an awesome time to do presentations, make sales calls, pitch your ideas, collaborate with others and get yourself out there. Your power to attract and magnetize your desires and goals is heightened. You’re as shiny and bright as the full moon!
Focus on: Communicating, collaborating, attracting, magnetizing desires and goals.
Luteal Phase / Waning Crescent Moon: Biologically, your corpus luteum (what’s left of the ovarian follicle/egg) starts to produce progesterone to make the uterine lining soft and welcoming for a fertilized egg. Progesterone also helps us feel calm and serene. Energetically, it’s the most productive "head-down, get to work" time of the cycle. This is where you complete and wrap up the projects you started at the very beginning of this whole cycle. You’re not as social, but that sets you up perfectly to take care of business. It’s a time to slow down a bit before leading into the next phase of the cycle where you'll want to take time to rest.
Focus on: Turning energy inward, focus, details, finishing projects, and putting in the work
Menstrual Phase / New Moon: Biologically, this is when you bleed. If there’s no implantation of a fertilized egg, your uterine lining (which has been building up since the follicular phase) sheds. Energetically, this is the perfect time for rest and reflection. The coolest part of this phase as Kate Northrup points out is: “Your brain is the most wired for connectivity between the left and right hemispheres, which makes you super smart and able to integrate logical and intuition information with high clarity.” (2) Amazing, right?! Physical energy is lowest, so it’s a perfect time for self-care. Take a bath, journal, do very slow and mindful movement (yin yoga, for example), say no to social engagements and just cozy on up at home. If you’re a busy human being (like most of us are these days!), knowing when your bleed phase is can help you to plan a day off at the time in your cycle when you’re primed to get the most out of it.
Focus on: Looking within, deeper connection to intuition, rest, self-care and course-correcting
How to Work With These Energies If You’re Not Synched With The Moon or Are No Longer Menstruating
Many people who menstruate say that they’re in sync with the moon. If this is the case, perfect! Paying attention to the moon cycles can help us stay connected to our own bodies.
If you don’t cycle with the moon, then pay attention to where you’re at with your menstrual cycle to decide what energy phase you’re in. But paying attention to the moon is part of staying connected to nature and your connection to her. So keep tabs on where the moon is at as well, and perhaps eventually you’ll sync up to the moon phases too!
If you aren’t menstruating any longer (if you’ve had a complete hysterectomy or are post-menopausal, for example), then the moon is where you’ll want to pay attention. Track the moon phases to know what energy phase you’re in.
If your menstrual cycle is super irregular or you skip multiple periods in a row, consult with a trusted health practitioner to work towards re-establishing a regular period. Always get checked for underlying pathologies and once that's been done, working with a herbalist and herbal medicines can be a fantastic way to regulate menstrual cycles. To find out more on how to work with me, head over here or simply email firstname.lastname@example.org to see if it's a good fit for you!
Of course, the best way to start to harness the power of your cycle is to simply become curious about how your body feels and what you’re experiencing energetically on a daily basis. Tracking your cycle and/or the moon regularly is a fantastic way to do so. You can use any of the many apps that exist or develop your own way to keep track. If you need an idea, check out the My Moontime Period Tracker app here. (No affiliations, just a great and affordable resource!)
Paying attention to the wisdom in our bodies isn’t something that comes easily to us these days because we’ve been socialized into unnatural daily rhythms. It can take time to slow down enough to notice the subtleties of our beautifully complex bodies. But when we do, we’ll discover an untapped inner resource that we can rely on to gain insight and propel us towards our desires and goals with more ease.
- The Good Trade: What The Moon Can Teach Us About Our Menstrual Cycle
- Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time and Energy Management for Busy Moms by Kate Northrup