My Hormonology

 

Think you know when you’re bravest during your monthly cycle? Let’s discuss….

During Week 2 of your cycle (the week leading up to and including ovulation), estrogen is high and rising to its peak. When this happens, this hormone prompts certain changes in the brain that make you more daring, adventurous, open to change, mentally flexible and willing to throw caution to wind. That’s because these brain changes rev your mood, optimism and impulsiveness–a combination that makes it easier to take a risk because you’re pretty sure it will turn out alright and you’re not spending a lot of time thinking about the consequences if it doesn’t.

As a result, you’re more likely to ignore problems, challenges or naysayers who stand in your way as you mentally rehearse your “I told you so” speech.

But, this doesn’t make Week 2 the bravest week of your cycle.

The real bravest week of your monthly cycle

The real test of bravery is when you still take a risk or stick to a goal despite nagging doubts, worry, challenges that feel overwhelming and people trying to thwart your progress.

And that’s why it’s clear to me that Week 4–your premenstrual week–is when bravery truly peaks.

My a-ha moment

I had this revelation just a couple of days ago when I was struggling with a particularly stressful premenstrual week. There were unexpected snags, extra expenses and stinging feedback from critics all rushing at me at a time when plunging estrogen was already making me focus more on what was going wrong than what was going right.

All those fears and uncertainty that are usually easily pushed aside during the first half of my cycle now were now crowding around me like hungry termites on a popsicle stick.

At that moment, it seemed so much easier to just pack it in, give it up and walk away than force myself to move forward.

But, after a few deep breaths (and a few spoonfuls of chocolate Lactaid ice cream), I remembered the reason why I started my goal–and I picked myself up and made the decision to plod forward even with those fears and uncertainty still gnawing away at me.

This is when I realized that drawing up the kind of strength to keep going during your premenstrual week is a special kind of bravery.

That’s because it’s easy to move forward no matter what life throws at you when you’re in your Week 2 since you’ve got the hormonal winds at your back, pushing you along and making everything feel like it’s going to turn out just fine no matter what.

But, during your premenstrual week, not only do you have to face usual challenges that are sure to crop up, anyway, you have to do it with plunging estrogen sapping any confidence you have that it will work out well–and, perhaps, even giving you the absolutely certainty it won’t.

Some women only need to summon this special premenstrual bravery occasionally. Others may have to tap into it on a frequent, if not monthly, basis.

But, every time you use this strength to keep moving forward and come through the other side–back to the rising estrogen weeks when things feel more hopeful again–it’s a victory.

The takeaway

The next time you’re feeling doubtful or losing hope during your premenstrual week, I want you to remember that this negativity is simply a side effect of plunging hormones that’s temporary until estrogen starts rising again–and this can help you summon the bravery inside you to keep going.

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