As part of my ongoing physical therapy following spine surgery I had in January, I walk on a treadmill for an hour most mornings. To make the time go by as I trod along, I’ve been watching movies and shows on Netflix on my iPad–which, due to my long daily work schedule, is something I rarely get to do. So, I’ve been catching up on all the recommendations friends have given me that I never got around to viewing and movies I missed when they were in the theater.
But, I’ve now been reminded why it’s important to do a bit of research about what the movie or show is about before just delving blindly into it to make sure it syncs up with where I am in my monthly cycle. Here’s why:
As I was going through the list of available titles on the screen, I noticed the British TV series Black Mirror and remembered that a member of my monthly discussion group had suggested I watch it because he felt that based on topics I liked to talk about it would be right up my alley. I remembered nothing about this show other than this man’s recommendation, but figured that was probably all I needed to know–so I clicked “play”.
Within just a few minutes, I had a hunch I’d made the wrong choice of shows to watch. And after sticking through the entire first episode, I knew for sure I’d had.
Turns out, this show pushes past edgy and delves straight into “Holy $*!#, what did I just watch?” territory.
Granted, it was interesting, intriguing and did tackle topics I enjoy discussing, such as technology, privacy, morality and public opinion. However, it was also dark and disturbing. Deeply, deeply disturbing.
Now, I’m no shrinking violet when it comes to edgy entertainment. One of my favorite authors is Irvine Welsh, who can leave your mind reeling days, even weeks, after you’ve finished one of his short stories or novels.
However, I’d happened to watch Black Mirror during Week 3 of my cycle. On these days, progesterone makes you more likely to be distressed by disturbing scenes and remember them longer and more vividly, according to several studies, including this, this and this.
And disturbing scenes and images were aplenty in this show.
After the show ended, I went back to my Netflix line-up and immediately queued up the movie Mansfield Park based on a Jane Austen novel. I needed an immediate palate-cleanser to try to wipe my mind of what I had just seen. And I knew this visually serene, refreshingly sedate story of romance and social class set in the beautiful English countryside would be the perfect antidote–and, most importantly, would sync up far better with my Week 3 mood and interests.
Then, I made a mental note to revisit Black Mirror and watch further episodes of it during Week 2 of my cycle, which is when high estrogen and testosterone make you more open to thrilling, adventurous, boundary-breaking entertainment. That’s because this show did bring up many interesting points I’d like to delve into further–just at a time in my cycle when I’d appreciate its jarring style more.
I bring all this up today because if you’re looking for movies and shows to watch, then I recommend you also try syncing them with your cycle as a way to enjoy them more.
Here are the genres and styles you tend to prefer most during your Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 and Week 4:
Week 1: Go for laughs with a comedy or animation
Day 1 (first day of period) to Day 7
If you’re experiencing pain from menstrual cramps, a migraine or other cycle-related woe, you’ll likely prefer anything that makes you guffaw (be it a rom-com, slapstick or animated feature) as a way to distract you from the pain. And, good news: Laugh-inducing entertainment can actually help you feel better! That’s because rising estrogen during your Week 1 prompts your body to churn out more endorphins whenever you’re inspired to chuckle. And that endorphin rush not only helps boost your mood, it masks pain signals.
When not in pain, day by day throughout your Week 1, rising estrogen has you more interested in upbeat, adventurous entertainment, for instance, tales of people who’ve had great success, overcome challenges, taken exciting trips or found love. That’s because as the level of this hormone climbs during the first half of your cycle, it’s giving you the urge to make your own positive marks on the world in some way or find the romantic partner of your dreams–and these kinds of tales help inspire you to reach your own goals.
Week 2: Pick action, crime, fright flicks, whodunnits, indies, arties, IMAX, 3D or steamy movies
Day 8 to Day 14 (or day of ovulation in your cycle)
High estrogen and testosterone are revving your mood, energy, creativity, curiosity and libido to cycle-long highs. As a result, you crave anything that gives you an adrenaline-pumping thrill (the kind that puts you on the edge of your seat or makes you jump suddenly), stretches your imagination (for instance, with unusual plotlines or images), gives you a novel experience (like larger-than-life screens or amazing 3D graphics), tests your smarts (and see if you can figure out who did it before the big reveal) and fires up your passion (with your favorite super-hot actors, preferably scantily-clad and steaming up the screen).
Week 3: Opt for documentaries, dramas, romance and repeats
Begins the day after ovulation and lasts 8 days (which is Day 15 to Day 22 in a 28-day cycle)
You’re in more serious, sedate and sentimental state of mind during your Week 3 due to rising progesterone and lower estrogen. This transition to a slower, more thoughtful phase of your cycle has you enjoying tearjerking dramas, documentaries, romances and favorite movies you’ve seen a thousand times before.
What you may want to cross off your to-watch this during this week of your cycle: Any movie with gory or scary scenes since research shows frightening images stick in your brain far longer when you view them during this phase due to rising progesterone.
Chances are, you’re not going to enjoy movies that are abstract or unusual in other ways as this week’s hormone levels have you preferring what’s traditional over anything out of the norm.
Week 4: Indulge in guilty pleasures
Final 6 days of your cycle
What critics call “dumb”, “inane” and “too silly for words” are a premenstrual girl’s dream. You’d also enjoy kids’ movies and animations, comedies, rom-coms and movies that follow such a traditional storyline, you can predict the plot twists miles away. But, you’ll be okay with that. That’s because estrogen is in a steep nosedive, dragging down your mood and patience, so you tend to prefer something simple and that doesn’t requires too much thinking. Plus, the silly stuff is perfect for boosting a premenstrual mood and distracting you from premenstrual aches, pains and irritations.