4 easy ways to love your menstrual cycle in the New Year

4 easy ways to love your menstrual cycle in the New Year


Are you the kind of person who makes New Year’s resolutions? I am.

Douglas and I have this hokey tradition where we write our New Year’s resolutions on a piece of paper, then tie it to a helium-filled balloon and let it drift off. (Well, that was before I read about the whole helium shortage thing. Maybe this year we’ll just set the lists on a ledge on a really windy day and let them blow away.)

Anyway, to help you squeeze more out of your New Year, I thought I’d give you New Year’s resolutions for making every week of your cycle better. Because that’s just the helpful kind of gal I am. And because I want you to love your cycle as much as I do. That way when we pass on the street, you can go, “Oh look, there’s that hormone lady who helped me love my cycle!” And I’d give you a knowing nod and you’d smile back at me and then I’d continue on my way to where ever I was headed, which was most likely to the closest chocolate shop for dark chocolate-covered pretzels.

Okay, I’m back. Self-glorifying cutaway aside, these New Year’s resolutions can really help you make the most out of your monthly cycle. Here’s how:

Week 1 New Year’s Resolution: Get an early start
Day 1 (first day of period) to Day 7

Your Week 1 New Year’s resolution is that the moment you get your period, start preparing for great things to accomplish in the first half of your cycle.

I know, I know: If you experience cramps and/or fatigue from your period, the beginning of your Week 1 is probably not going to be awesome. I get that. So, the idea of heading to a splashy party or running a double-marathon or starting an all-female rock band may seem about as appetizing as eating a gravel sandwich.

However, by the middle of your Week 1, whether or not you have a rough period, rising estrogen will likely have reached a point where you do become ready to take on the world. Or at least a small section of it. That’s because this hormone is helping you to become more energetic, outgoing, ambitious, confident and upbeat. And these feelings intensify all the way through ovulation at the end of your Week 2.

So, even if you’re tired or in pain from menstruating on your Day 1, you can still do online research, make a phone call, send an email, register for an event, RSVP and do other small at-home–even in-bed–tasks.

This way, once your estrogen-fueled drive starts to kick in by Day 3 or Day 4 (and, if you’re like me, even sooner) and you’re dying to get some accomplishments and big experiences under your belt, you can jump right in–no waiting to set things up!

Week 2 New Year’s Resolution: Sharpen your focus
Day 8 to Day 14 (or ovulation day in your cycle)   

Your Week 2 New Year’s resolution is to pick one or two key goals you want to accomplish–and focus on them.

The Week 2 peak in estrogen and testosterone you’re experiencing is awesome. It really is. It’s behind your sky-high mental and physical energy, creativity, optimism and feel-good brain buzzes you get from doing stuff you love.

However, you know how one cup of coffee feels good? Two cups feel great? But, then three or four or five can push you over the edge and give you the jitters and make it hard for you to even see straight?

Yeah, high hormones can be like that, too. They can give you so much energy and optimism that you end up scattering your attention across a dozen different projects, tasks and/or people, confident you can accomplish everything, but never gaining real progress on any of them.

So, during your Week 2, try to pinpoint the one or two things that reeeaaalllly matter to you. Then, experiment with concentrating all your mental and physical energy on them to finally get traction on them–or even reach your goal entirely.

You always have your next cycle’s Week 2 to tackle your other must-do projects!

Week 3 New Year’s Resolution: Use the downshift
Begins day after ovulation and lasts 8 days (that’s Day 15 to Day 22 in a 28-day cycle) 

Your Week 3 New Year’s resolution is to use this week’s mental and physical slow-down to your advantage by taking on tasks that match your mellower mood.

So, cards on the table here: Week 3 can be a rough transition time in your menstrual cycle. You go from surfing super-high waves of estrogen and testosterone to being thrown to the surf as these two hormones plunge for the first half of this week and sedating progesterone climbs throughout it.

You’ll probably notice that compared to your Week 2, you’re no longer filled with natural oomph, you tire out more quickly, your memory is muddied and that sky-high mood and optimism is being replaced by a more realistic or even worried outlook.

This sudden and unavoidable downshift can frustrate any gal. It’s like some jerk storming into a rad party, then throwing on the lights, turning off the tunes and telling everyone to go home.

But, this is no time to sit around sulking, waiting for Week 1–and rising estrogen–to come around again.

That’s because you can actually use Week 3’s slowdown to accomplish goals in line with your mellower mood.

For instance, research shows it’s easier to concentrate on details that were too boring to take on during your high-flying high-estrogen days. So, use this week to work on budgets, reports or other parts of a project that require close attention.

Because rising progesterone is bringing out your nurturing, emotional side, you’ll enjoy one-on-one quality time with close friends and cherished family members. This makes it an excellent time to reconnect over lunch or a long phone call.

This is also a perfect week for enjoying sedate activities you’ve been meaning to do, but were too antsy to take on in your high-energy weeks, such as reading a book, watching a documentary, planting an indoor herb garden, cooking and freezing food, reorganizing your closet or visiting a museum.

By simply shifting to different activities and goals to match your hormonal shifts, you can make Week 3 of your cycle just as productive and enjoyable as the first two weeks of your cycle!

Week 4 New Year’s Resolution: Stay in the present
Final 6 days of your cycle 

Your Week 4 New Year’s resolution is to try to stay in the here and now and avoid thinking about past hurts, irritations, regrets and annoyances.

Plunging estrogen during your premenstrual week makes you a bit more introspective, plus it’s threatening to bring down your mood and optimism by dragging down levels of feel-good chemicals in the brain. Together these effects could tempt you to revisit ancient history. And I think we all know where that can lead to: Streaking mascara, an empty Ben & Jerry’s container (or four or five) or an ill-fated attempt at giving yourself bangs.

When you start to notice this happening to you, try to consciously steer your thoughts away to a more positive topic, such as something you’re grateful for, a talent at which you excel or a wonderful event you’re looking forward to attending.

This will help you avoid starting a negative spiral that plunging estrogen can make so much worse. As a result, less ruminating can make your premenstrual week easier and more productive!

I hope these Hormonology New Year’s resolutions help make the coming year your best yet!

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