28 Mar How to use your cycle to snag a BOGO of good emotions
Don’t you just love stumbling across a great buy-one-get-one (BOGO) offer? Even if it’s not for stuff you normally purchase–like nasal irrigation spray or lawn leaf bags–you still can’t help but pause for a moment to consider buying the one just so you can get the other for free. It’s just that tempting.
Well, there’s something like this that goes on in your cycle. Seriously, hear me out….
When your estrogen level climbs in the first half of your cycle (your Week 1 and Week 2, which lasts from the first day of menstruation through ovulation), it has a direct impact on your brain: All this rising estrogen prompts a greater production of mood-elevating chemicals than you get in the second half of your cycle (your Week 3 and Week 4, which lasts from the day after ovulation to the day before your next period).
This greater output of feel-good brain chemicals in the first half of your cycle is why you’re more prone to happier moods than sad ones and why your confidence, self-esteem, optimism and outlook all improve on these days.
Well, here’s where your hormonal BOGO comes in: It also just so happens that when you do activities that boost your mood in the first half of your cycle–for example, going on a bike ride, reading a book, watching a movie, eating a special treat or playing a video game–rising estrogen prompts a greater surge of happiness from those activities than you’d get when doing them during the second half of your cycle. In essence, during your Week 1 and Week 2, you get two doses of joy for the price of one!
I was reminded of this little hormonal fact this weekend as I was doing research for a magazine article and came across this 2003 study from Penn State University that found listening to your favorite music not only has the power to reverse a negative mood and make it positive, it also enhances a positive mood, making it even better.
As I’m now in Week 1 of my cycle and my estrogen is rising, as an experiment I decided to try this out and put on one of my favorite playlists to work to. I was already in a positive mood, looking forward to completing two new Hormonology projects and feeling pretty good about a recent eyebrow reshaping I did on the fly. But, after a few songs played, I was downright euphoric. Actually, almost too euphoric–kind of like when your team wins the championship and you want to start turning over cars and lighting bonfires in the street.
So, I had to turn off the tunes to bring down my joy level to normal-behavior levels. But, this little experiment really did prove the power of music to enhance a positive mood. And, it proved that doing something mood-enhancing during a rising estrogen day can push positive emotions into ecstatic territory. (In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have gone straight to my high-power workout mix, which is the equivalent of musical crack.)
Anyway, my point is this: When you’re in the first half of your cycle, take advantage of this hormonal BOGO effect and do activities that you know will boost your mood to get an even bigger surge of joy. (But, you know, not to car-tipping, fire-starting levels. Or do–who am I to judge?) This hormone-fueled mood enhancement only happens two weeks out of your cycle, so why waste it?