During certain times of the month, we are more articulate, more creative and even more detail oriented. And it’s all to do with our menstrual cycles. Tapping into these natural rhythms to optimise our work and personal lives is a little-talked-about bio-hack, but one that can have a huge impact on our productivity and energy levels.
Cycle syncing is a concept popularised by women’s menstrual health expert, best-selling author and founder of FLOLiving.com Alisa Vitti. After being diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Alisa spent 15 years researching the fluctuations of hormones within menstrual cycles. She found that these hormone shifts have a profound effect on our overall wellbeing, but that most mainstream nutrition and lifestyle plans are tailored to men.
Cycle syncing is Alisa’s answer for women who want to better listen to, and sync up with, their bodies. The method is rooted in the idea that there are four hormonal phases in a menstrual cycle and these hormonal shifts impact our brain, mood and energy. When we understand what these phases are and how they impact us (every person is different), we can plan activities ahead of time to take advantage of the energy spikes at different times in the month. Basically, the method is about hacking your cycle and tapping into an internal superpower to optimise productivity, creativity, socialising and self-care. Here’s how it works.
Phase 1: Menstruation (3-7 days)
The day you start bleeding is the start of a new cycle. An average cycle will last three to seven days. During this phase, estrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest, which is why you often feel so tired. Think of this time as your inner “winter”, a time to be slow, quiet, stay warm, turn inward and rest. Don’t feel bad if all you want is a “doona day” with chocolate and Netflix. Epsom salt baths are also nice for those niggling cramps.
Making the menstrual phase work for you:
- If you can, work from home during this phase. Bonus points for placing a hot-water bottle on your lap.
- Reduce your commitments. Your body is craving rest and you’re likely feeling less sociable. It’s a time to go inward.
- Reflect on the previous month: what worked well and what would you like to improve over the coming month?
- Exercise doesn’t need to be intense. Think restorative yoga, gentle walking or even a nap.
- Pre-cooked meals are handy to reduce your load.
- Meditation will help ground you and bring back some energy.
Phase 2: Follicular phase (7-10 days)
The Follicular phase is like springtime. Estrogen levels rise and with them, your energy, productivity and mood also enjoy a boost.
- It’s a good week to say yes. You tend to be more open to new things during this phase.
- Get creative. The juices will flow easier this week, making it a great time for brainstorming.
- Set career goals to achieve this month.
- Plan meetings, networking, dates or catch-ups with friends to make the most of your outgoing energy.
- Take advantage of the boost in energy and plan HIIT or cardio workouts.
Phase 3: Ovulation phase (3-4 days)
This is your summertime! You’re ovulating and your body wants the world to know it; you might feel more outgoing and can even feel more attractive.
- Go hard on connection and conversation. This is a great time to have a difficult conversation you might have been putting off.
- You might find you’re more articulate in this phase. Now is a good time to do a presentation or have a job interview.
- You can better see the big picture in this phase, so go wild with dreaming up your next career move or adventure.
- Go on dates — for singles and couples. You’re feeling more sexy and open to new things, so it’s a good time to enjoy time with someone you fancy. (Just remember how fertile you are!)
- Your metabolism speeds up during the ovulation and luteal phase, so eat a little more during these weeks to stay energised.
Phase 4: Luteal phase (10-14 days)
This is your autumn phase and probably the one you’re most familiar with energetically: PMS week. Estrogen levels decrease and progesterone increases; sometimes this gentle dance becomes unbalanced, which can lead to PMS symptoms. These shifts make you more equipped for detailed and admin-based tasks you might have put off in your ovulation phase.
- Make to do lists and tackle the tasks you’ve been putting off.
- Dive into the data or the details, or get that report done.
- You might feel “nesty”, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself tidying the house or obsessing over new cushion covers.
- Plan and cook some nourishing meals ready for your menstrual phase.
- Gradually slow down on commitments.
- We might crave friendship more in this phase and a long chat can be good for the soul.
- As energy winds down, yoga is perfect for this phase.
Five simple ways to start cycle syncing
- Track your cycle on an app (try Clue, Flo or Ovia) so you can become familiar with your different hormonal phases. Take notes about how you’re feeling during each different “season”.
- Implement one cycle sync activity per phase and gradually build up until you’re in the flow of optimising your hormonal shifts.
- Take your friends, family or partner on the journey so they can understand the shifts in your energy.
- Read Women Code by Alisa Vitti, who delves into what happens to your hormones and suggests foods to support each cycle.
- Give yourself grace. Cycle syncing is about self-care; don’t get bogged down in the nitty gritty — listen to your body.