06 May How do you deal with challenges in your cycle?
A few days ago, a friend sent me an animated gif of Wonder Woman fending off a volley of bullets one by one with nothing more than her wrist cuffs. On her face was a determined “Bring it on!” expression.
At the time, I could totally relate. I was in Week 2 of my cycle (the week leading up to and including ovulation) and high estrogen was boosting my mood, confidence, optimism and resilience, helping me easily fend off a metaphorical volley of bullets headed my own way: multiple super-tight deadlines, requests to squeeze extra work into an already packed schedule and unexpected snafus that kept popping up like a less fun version of the arcade game Whac-a-Mole. And, all the while I confidently and proudly proclaimed to myself, “Bring it on!”
Then my Week 3 came around. And things changed. Like, really changed.
The volley of challenges kept coming, but now it felt like I was inside a losing game of Tetris where, just like those falling Tetris blocks, the challenges felt like they just kept piling up instead of being easily dealt with and swatted away. Every problem that cropped up seemed to take up more time, require more effort and be bigger and more overwhelming. And, my mantra now switched to “Get it away!”
The reason for the drastic change was that the sky-high estrogen that had been bringing out my inner Wonder Woman in my Week 2 was now dropping like a rock in my Week 3. And progesterone–a hormone that slows down energy and ushers in a desire for safety and security–was now rising steadily. Together, this was a combo that’s destined to make any challenge feel like it takes more effort to deal with.
Your cycle: A case of wind at your back, wind at your face
I wanted to share my recent experience with you because I want you to know that it’s common, normal and natural to feel like you’ve got more momentum during the first half of your cycle–your Week 1 and Week 2–that makes challenges feel like they’re easier to deal with thanks to rising estrogen.
And it’s common, normal and natural to feel like you need to push yourself to maintain momentum and avoid getting overwhelmed by challenges during the second half of your cycle–your Week 3 and Week 4–due to less estrogen and more progesterone.
Why this change occurs, researchers speculate, is because women are biologically wired to be pushed out into the world and take more risks during the first half of our cycle as a way to track down a partner in time for ovulation. So, our hormones boost our mood, optimism, confidence and resilience as a way to keep us on the hunt.
Women are also biologically wired to hunker down and stay away from risks during the second half of our cycle in case we got pregnant during ovulation and now need to be safe for two. So, our hormones make us more pessimistic, wary and anxious as a way to keep us from venturing out into the scary, threatening world.
This kind of biological wiring was needed early on to help the human race survive when survival was still quite iffy. Now it just seems as outdated as rotary phones. But, until evolution takes another leap forward, we’re stuck with these hormonal effects driving reproduction–and our momentum.
Maintaining momentum all cycle long
Sure, it’s handy to know that you tend to find challenges easier to handle in your Week 1 and Week 2. You can try to schedule as many of your biggest, most arduous tasks for this cycle phase so you can knock them off your to-do list faster.
However, chances are, you probably don’t have the time to just close up shop during your Week 3 and Week 4 as you wait for Week 1 to roll around again.
So, what can you do to maintain the positive, problem-solving attitude you have in the first half of your cycle throughout your second half? Try these tips:
When doubts creep in, tell yourself, “It’s just my hormones.” Reminding yourself that expecting a negative outcome and feeling overwhelmed are normal (albeit annoying) side effects of hormone changes can help keep challenges in perspective and prevent them from seeming bigger than they really are.
Pump up your energy. One reason behind a flagging mood and higher pessimism is the lower pep (or downright fatigue) you have in the second half of your cycle. So, go to sleep earlier at night and use healthy energy-boosters during the day, such as brisk outdoor walks , up-tempo music and taking regular breaks to avoid monotony.
Adopt a “Bring it on!” mantra. Numerous studies on affirmations show that the messages you tell yourself impact your moods and behavior. The more positive your self-messages are, the better you perform. So, when you find yourself tempted to say, “Keep it away!” try switching it to “Bring it on!” instead.