We're all different, every single one of us... and that's why we believe that it's so important for us to connect back to our own individual body. We now live in a society that tells us we should keep up with work, exercise, have great social circles, eat clean and bring up children, all whilst making it look effortless! It's exhausting just writing it, nevermind trying to "do it all", but no matter how many times we can remind ourselves that this is an impossible truth we still try and keep up. So it's no wonder that sometimes our bodies feel out of whack, our periods can be irregular, PMS sends us into a frenzy of anxiety and anger or we end up in bed for a few days because of cramps or heavy periods.
This part of womanhood that can make us feel so out of sorts, can also be the one element of being a women that we can come back to, that reminds us to slow when we need to, that tells us when it's best to go for a run or simply just stretch, when it's best to have that work meeting and when to snuggle in and watch the telly - our menstural cycle. Our infradian rythym is the cycle in which our hormones go on every month, and along with this cycle naturally comes physical changes and emotional ones too. Our menstrual cycle can be a wonderful source of information when we take the time to listen to our bodies.
Our modern day society deems periods as a "curse" something we have to
endure, when you search for images using the word period all that comes up is a women curled up in pain. There are women that do suffer terribly with pain, and with mental health around the time of their period. Maybe if our work places, schools and society in general accepted menstrual cycles as a part of everyday life, rather than something annoying and embarrassing that happens once a month that only women have to deal with, we all might be able to have a more relaxed approach. This in turn would help women feel supported in these times when we're not feeling great, feeling overwhlemed or simply need to take it a little slower.
This is something we've been very aware of here at The Selkie Collective, we're a women owned business and we make great efforts to talk openly about our emotions and our cycle's with each other. It makes such a difference to how we plan our work schedules too, we understand that before our periods it might not be the best time to have lots of business meetings and make big decisions, when we know we're on the week or two after our period we fit a lot in and ride the energy high! The most important thing is we're open and honest with each other and don't feel embarrassed to say how we're feeling in direct relation to our hormones, we take it seriously and have compassion for each other and how we're feeling. Imagine if every women could go to work or school having that feeling...
Our menstrual cycle spans the full month - the follicular phase, ovulatory phase, luteal phase and the menstural phase. We've been reading many wonderful books on this subject, which we'll mention below. One of these books is called In The Flo by Alisa Vitti, in the book she beautifully describes these cycles like our seasons.
The follicular phase (when we stop bleeding) is our Spring, a time of beginning and a fresh start; the ovulatory phase is our Summer and is the time when we feel our most social and communicative; the luteal phase is our Autumn when we start to round things up and prepare to bring the attention to self; and finally the menstrual phase which represents our Winter - this is an ideal time for reflection and looking inward. This simple explanation of a womens monthly cycle has been so comforting to us, and we would highly recommend reading more about these phases and the role our hormones play in Alisa's book, it really gives us a sense of power and understanding of our bodies.
Another book we would highly recommend is Period Power by Maisie Hill. Maisie is an acupuncturist, women's health practitioner and a doula, so she is well versed in all things hormonal. Particularly with regards to some of the major milestones relating to a women's hormonal cycle - infertility, pregnancy, motherhood, coming off hormonal birth control, perimenopause and menopause. Maisie combines Eastern and Western medicine to give women all they need to make sense of their cycles.
Lastly we would also like to mention the book and journal This Period In My Life by Saskia Boujo. This is a guide book and journal that has been designed to inform and prepare young people for their menstual cycle. We love this journal and think that it's an invaluable resource for any young women, it gives you tracking charts, hints and tips on self care through different phases and some straight forward facts and science.
We have found great strength in embracing all parts of our monthly cycle and we hope that by opening up the conversation periods become something to celebrate rather than something disgusting and embarrassing.