yellToday I’d like to talk about the importance of tracking your triggers throughout each week of your menstrual cycle.

By “trigger”, I mean the activities, people, events, places or even food that have the potential to react badly with your hormones and subsequently push you into a place emotionally and/or physically where you really don’t want to go.

For instance?

In your Week 1–your period week–getting to bed too late could worsen the fatigue you’re already experiencing from the combination of low estrogen and iron loss during menstruation, which then triggers grouchiness.

In your Week 2, drinking too much caffeine can exacerbate high estrogen’s energy-boosting effect, triggering antisness and the jitters.

In your Week 3, drinking chamomile tea could intensify rising progesterone’s sedating effects, triggering the kind of overwhelming fatigue that makes you want to faceplant right into a long nap.

In your Week 4, heading to a crowded, noisy mall, bar or other location could ratchet up plunging estrogen anxiety and irritation, triggering a total premenstrual stress-out.

Those are just a few examples that may or may not apply to you.

My point is that finding your own personal triggers for each week of your cycle is key. That’s because you can then try to sidestep them, which will–as is my oft-repeated mantra you’ve probably heard me tell you many times before–make every day of your cycle better.

I’m actually inspired to write about this topic today because I discovered my own new trigger.

A few weeks ago, I inexplicably bought a 2001 Porsche Boxster S convertible. Weirdest. Impulse. Buy. Ever.

I chalked up this unexpected new purchase to having it just been my 44th birthday and the gravity of my over-the-hillness sinking in.

While I love love love the car–mostly because it makes my 5’1″ frame look way taller than I really am (seriously, it’s the only car I’ve ever towered over in my life) and because Elle Woods drives the same car in Legally Blonde (though hers was in the more subdued Sorority Chick Black while mine is clearly the brighter Mid-Life Crisis Yellow model)–there is one problem: It’s a stick shift. And I’ve only ever driven automatics.

My Hormonology

While I thought for sure I could learn how to drive a stick shift in one, maaaayybbee two lessons, it turns out, you evidently need a lot of coordination to master this thing.

And coordination is so not my strong suit. No lie, I’m sporting three new bruises right now–one on each knee (walked into a door, walked into a coffee table) and one on my elbow (banged into the wall while getting up from my yoga mat).

Which leads me to this premenstrual week. While learning how to drive a stick, I’ve figured out that on plunging estrogen days, I will absolutely, positively, 100% lose my cool when I stall out.

Seriously, after stall #2 yesterday, I quite literally climbed out of the car and started walking home. And, as a former New Yorker, I walk fast. Even in the Porsche, it took Douglas several blocks to catch up with me and convince me to get back in–which I agreed to as long as it was the passenger seat.

Because I realized then and there that during my premenstrual week, making mistakes as I learn to drive a stick shift is my new trigger. Plunging estrogen simply saps my patience and revs my self-criticism too high to handle it. I knew I’d be better off waiting till my estrogen–and subsequently my patience and confidence–was rising in my Week 1 to try tackling the stick shift again.

So, here’s today’s suggestion for you: Find a piece of paper or use a note-taking app or use my free Hormone Horoscope menstrual cycle tracker app, which comes with a handy note-taking feature (just click the quill and notepad icons on each cycle calendar day) to jot down what your triggers are for each week of your cycle. Then, keep that list handy so you can add additional triggers as you think of them or as new triggers pop up, like mine just did.

Then, do your best to skirt those triggers as you enter each week of your cycle.

I’m betting this easy technique will go a long way toward (say it with me) making every day of your cycle better!

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