Ditch Your Traumas, Not Your Period!
I can’t wait for my next period. Really — you read that right. Menstruation is my time to dig deep and give myself the care I crave, as well as to do a decade’s worth of therapy in a couple nights.
Does period pain culture have it wrong?
Despite the media’s spotlight on any downsides of that time of month (seriously, have you seen tampon commercials?!), I know there are progressive ladies out there loving their new Diva cups and embracing the blood their bodies shed, at least to some degree.
It’s a shame that still so many women struggle with painful and emotionally volatile cycles, though. So many ladies have been told that that’s just how we’re built (you’re overreacting…is it that time of the month?), or, worse, placed on synthetic hormone pills just to mask their symptoms and disconnect them from their bodies.
What if I told you that not only can women use their periods to gauge and gain control over their wellness, but they can also improve their emotional health during menstruation?
I get it – periods can be painful, messy, and inconvenient. But we get them for good reason. Let’s take advantage, ladies!
Back in the day, some men would even steal period blood from tribeswomen, for what they believed was a sacred source of power. Turns out we’re freaking goddesses?! Heck yes!
How the heck do women’s bodies work?
Let’s start with basic background: fluctuating hormones. If you travel back to those middle school years most of us deem awkward, you might recall your health class teacher dryly droning on about estrogen or something.
Well, turns out a woman’s hormone team has three major players: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Estrogen and testosterone peak around ovulation, giving women an extra boost in energy to, ahem, propagate our species, and progesterone then rises in the week or two before the period, building the uterine wall for potential implantation. That’s the wall that sheds during menstruation, sans fertilization.
So, what does this hormone team mean for a woman’s emotional well-being? While the male operating system stays largely static day-to-day, women are like nature – we have seasons – thanks to our fluctuating hormones.
Menstruation is our winter. Our bodies encourage dormancy, while some important work is done below the surface. It’s when women push against their rhythms that problems might arise, however.
Can you influence – no, improve – your period?
After observing myself and clients for a couple of years, I noticed a relationship between lifestyle and undesirable period symptoms – mood swings, cramps, migraines, etc. And I’m not the only one. Dr. Alissa Vitti wrote the book on the subject, literally.
Vitti’s work shows that diet and lifestyle can work apparent miracles that drugs could not perform, alleviating cramps, PMS symptoms, endometriosis, and much more. But how?
The human body doesn’t operate in a linear direction – biofeedback loops into most functions, making us powerful forces in our own wellbeing. In other words, every choice we make has the potential to impact our health, for better or for worse.
So, supporting each phase of the menstrual cycle, with nutrition and lifestyle geared towards each “season,” helps optimize the hormone team’s performance.
Estrogen and emotion: what’s the work we should be doing?
Let’s get back to hormone fluctuations.
Studies show that decreased estrogen levels, like the levels seen during menstruation, might impair women’s adaptive emotional regulation. This means if an egg floats on out unfertilized, some ladies might slowly begin to unravel.
The good news? A woman’s period leaves her emotionally open for the deep inner work necessary to unload the emotional gunk she’s been carrying – the perfect opportunity for freedom.
Think about it: in our modern world, when do we welcome vulnerability? Raw emotionality? Though shifts are creeping in, society still largely values what we perceive to be the masculine, go-get-em sort of attitudes. No time to dilly dally or explore emotions. Stuff those suckers down and get to work!
Most of us understand the burden that then builds, the clog that gunks up our emotional pipe system (metaphorically). That’s how we get disproportionate reactions, outbursts, and our current mental health crisis.
Ladies, take your period as permission to open wide and just let go, even for an hour or two of your first day. Tune out the world and look inside.
First step towards inner work? Try shadow work.
When clients ask me how the heck to “go within,” shadow work is my first answer. It’s a powerful deep dive into the subconscious, something between a meditation and hypnosis, where the mind and body relax nearly entirely, allowing you to access parts of you that have either been suppressed or totally forgotten.
When emotions are sitting near the surface, bubbling up, such as in menstruation, it’s the perfect time to dig up any traumas or beliefs right out of there for processing.
Because of its deep nature, I recommend processing your first shadow work experiences with a professional, whether an emotional health coach like myself, or your go-to mental health professional. If you’re an EQ genius, you might decide to try my guided shadow work just on your own, but at least grab your favorite journal to pour out your experience in there.
There are tons of other practices to try for some emotional decluttering, including breath work or just basic journaling. All inner work practices can be done at any time, but women have the gift of forced unwinding at a certain time each month, when our brains demand that we release control of our emotions and, quite literally, go with the flow. Let’s learn to ride the wave.
Short Article Review
- A woman’s cycle has four phases – Each phase serves certain purposes that we women can support and use to our advantage.
- Painful periods are NOT inevitable! Women can improve their cycle by working with it, not against it, implementing lifestyle habits geared towards each phase.
- Women’s hormones, especially estrogen, play a big role in their emotionality. Estrogen is lowest in the menstrual phase, meaning – you guessed it – emotions become hard to regulate.
- Increased sensitivity during menstruation is a BLESSING, not a curse! Feeling raw and open, women have a greater capacity during that week to uncover and resolve any traumas, subconscious patterns, or emotions that it’s time to heal.
- Shadow work serves as a deep first dive into that inner work. It’s recommended that the first handful of shadow work experiences are processed with a trusted professional, whether a coach, counselor, or therapist.
The information in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have about any medical condition.
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