Ladies, I promise you this is easy, quick and simple.
All you have to do is keep track of what day of your menstrual cycle you’re on (if you’re not currently menstruating or don’t have a womb, then you can use the lunar cycle), and write down how you feel, any particular insights you receive, what you struggled with and what went fantastically well.
You might just write down one word that sums things up (ideal if you’re short on time or have trouble committing to self-care practices, and yes, that’s most of us), or a sentence… or a page might feel more appropriate on some days. Just start with something.
Once you’ve been charting for a few months, you’ll start to notice patterns, and that’s when life gets excitingly predictable: You’ll know when you’ll want to socialise and be out there in the world, you’ll know when you’ll need some time alone, and when you’ll crave being outside/going out dancing, or simply want some uninterrupted time to potter.
You’ll also, and perhaps more importantly, know when it’s really not the right time to do your monthly shop with kids in tow (not that that is ever a wise move). You’ll know what days you should avoid cramming extra meetings into. You’ll know when it’s a bloody awful time to have house guests… Especially your in-laws.
The awareness and predictability that comes from charting your menstrual cycle is my number one tool for improving relationships.
Every day that you note down how you feel – physically, emotionally, spiritually – gives you data. Data that can be compiled into a blueprint of your menstrual month. A blueprint that you can reflect on by yourself, or choose to share with others in whatever way feels comfortable to you.
Getting to know the rhythm of your cycle means getting to know yourself.
It allows you to feel and respond to your changing mood and energy, which, in turn, creates inner flexibility, stability, and above all, kindness towards yourself. Practically, it gives you a fabulous way of organising your diary (whether that’s booking things in for certain days, or creating softness and space around the days that may well feel disastrous).
Cycle awareness gives your significant other a cheats guide to understanding you.
Imagine if, at the start of each cycle, you could explicitly tell your other half when you’ll want to go out and be a social butterfly, when you’ll want to be romanced… and when you’ll want to be left alone on the sofa in your sweatpants (hello, bloating!) to catch up on Grey’s Anatomy. Doing this simple practice is an easy way to reduce tension and arguments in relationships. In fact, it can make such a difference that my other half is mystified as to why so few people know about it.
>>If you want to learn more about it make sure you read all the way to the bottom of this post<<
How to chart:
I know there’s an increasing amount of apps which allow you to keep track of your physical symptoms, energy, libido and moods. But so far none of them do it for me, mainly because they don’t allow you to be fully descriptive (feel free to let me know if you’ve found one that doesn’t do this). They use pre-formatted descriptors, and whilst checking boxes for ‘low energy’ and ‘feeling low’ is a good start, it’s entry-level and basic; think of it as getting a small tester spoon of ice cream instead of three scoops of your favourite flavours and your topping of choice. I’m guessing you’d go for the latter. Of course you would.
Personally, I love using a dedicated notebook and a pen, it’s easy for me to write in an uninhibited flow, and to be able to flick back and forth between cycles to compare notes. Others find that keeping logs on their laptop works best for them; you might opt to have different files for each cycle day. One page of A4 paper divided into the number of days you need for your cycle works nicely too, although if you’re prone to long cycles or have a lot to write down this format might prove tricky. The point is, whatever works for you is the best way to do it.
So, once you’ve picked your method, all you need to do is:
- Check in with yourself once a day, perhaps before bed, or throughout the day if you’ve got the sense that you’re on a data-rich cycle day.
- Keep note of your feelings, experiences and insights. Write down what’s working well or not-so-well for you. You might be at a work dinner when you’re doubled up with cramps and would rather be in bed with a hot water bottle. You could feel on top of the world, so good in fact that you don’t have time to chart more than one word. There are probably days where you feel highly productive / desperate to clean and tidy / horny as hell / tired / impatient / don’t want to talk to anyone / quick-witted and flirtatious. Just. Keep. Note.
- As you accumulate more data, you can start to reflect on previous cycles and begin to notice patterns, and from there you can plan your life accordingly.
- Erm, that’s it. Told you it was quick and simple.
If the idea of doing this is feeling pretty good and you’re eager to know a lot more, I’ve got a one day workshop coming up in Margate on Sunday Oct 15th.
There are only 8 spots left and I’d love to see you there. Head here to find out more.
Can’t make it on the 15th? Stick your name and email in the boxes at the top of this page to get first dibs on future workshops, or contact me if you’d like me to come to your hood.