NAVIGATING THE HOLIDAY SEASON WITH YOUR MENSTRUAL CYCLEDec 16, 2022
Christmas time. The silly season. Hanukkah. Summer holidays. Whatever this time of year means for you, it can carry with it big emotions and lots of social interactions. If you're an introvert by nature, or if you simply find this time collides with a tricky time of your cycle, this is for you.
It can feel pretty overwhelming when you combine being very premenstrual or on your period with the chaos that encompasses extended family, questions about why you aren't married and how come you decided to shave your head. (Okay, it's very likely those are things my extended family asks me, and they may not be yours, but I'm sure you have some similar experience.)
That feeling of needing alone time, coupled with all of the big emotions and extroversion that come with this time of year is a lot.
So, as a little helper, I've devised a little plan for you to navigate this time with a little more ease.
Here are my top tips for navigating family events when you have a menstrual cycle.
1. Track your cycle so that you know which phase you'll be in when you're at these big events. This is always step one for me, regardless of what we're dealing with. Knowing where you are in your menstrual cycle means being able to advocate for yourself, care for yourself and adjust your life accordingly.
2. ASK FOR HELP. As women/menstruators, chances are you've got some ingrained societal expectation around what's expected of you . We often feel the need to show up and support others and quite often, unfortunately, at the expense of our own needs being met.
If you're in a low energy/low internal resource phase, (ie. autumn or winter) tell those around you who know and love you that this is where you're at. You're going to need a little more support. You may even exit the event a little early to lay down in a food coma, and that's okay. One thing that can be hard for us is getting comfortable with the idea of taking rest when we need it, rather than when the work is done. (Hint: it's never done, so take the rest now.)
3. Choose a period pal. Whether it's your mother, lover, sister, father, grandma or anyone else (or all of them?). Let them know where you're at in your cycle. If great aunty Muriel tells you you're being lazy when you're resting, you'll have a back up buddy to step in and let her know it's okay for you to rest. Asking for support does not make you weak. Resting does not make you weak. It makes you wise.
On the chance that Christmas events coincide with your ovulatory phase and you're feeling generous and expressive, maybe you could pay it forward? Is there a woman in your family who could use a rest, someone else on their cycle? A busy new mum? Or one of the matriarchs who I'm sure has done their fair share of helping out on Christmas. If you've got the overflow, be the support for those who don't. It all comes back around when we care for each other like this.
Sometimes it feels like all I preach is rest, and while that's a big part of this, there's a flip side. When you have the energetic and emotional reserves, can you support a woman around you who doesn't?
One of my favourite things about cyclical living is knowing that's it's okay for me to say no, because I know the time will come where I'll say yes with overflow.
4. Prep your food in your inner spring/inner summer phases. If you're bleed coincides with Chrissy, and you're on desert duty, can you make something you can freeze between now and then? Can oestrogen rich you do premenstrual you a favour? I'm a big advocate for this, even when it's not the holidays. Anytime I cook something in my summer/autumn phase, I usually make extra and pop it in the freezer so that I have ready-made nourishing meals when I'm bleeding. Also, again, asking for support here. If you're late to the game and you haven't prepared, is there someone who can help you out?
If all of this feels overwhelming, and you exist in a family where these conversations are more taboo, just take it one step at a time. Find one small way you can support yourself.
A lot of this work involves un-learning societal constructs and expectations around productivity, rest and asking for help. It can feel isolating, especially when you're family/friends aren't yet on board.
So it's not always easy. But it's my experience that when we push back (gently) against these expectations, we actually empower others to do the same.
This time of year doesn't have to be draining, difficult or exhausting. In fact, I hope it's not. Cyclical living is such a powerful tool to support yourself through these times, or any times really.
In fact, I hope instead, it's a joyful, gentle and relaxing break for the business of the outside world.
If you're interested in learning more about cyclical living, you can check out ORBITAE here.
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