Your Cycle Series - Pre-Menstrual Autumn Phase.

 
The pre-menstrual phase is the most challenging but most beautiful aspect of our menstrual cycle. It connects us to our heart and our most deepest self - giving us the opportunity to develop a relationship with our bodies. 
 
Artist: Isabelle Feliu

Artist: Isabelle Feliu

Pre-menstrual or Autumn phase (around 5-10 days prior to menstruation). The part of your cycle where sitting under a fruit tree and contemplating life is most probably a reality (you are more likely in bed, binge watching childhood movies and inhaling chocolate).

It's a time to be creative, write poetry, clean the house, write that blog, practice yoga, nest, listen to one self, use your intuition, cry, procrastinate and live really really slowly. 

Not only do the hormones empower us to the clear out our wardrobes (i'm serious, clean your bedroom in your premenstrual phase - it is exhilarating), it is also asking us to clear out our emotional baggage so we don't take it with us to our next cycle. 

Often women believe the roller-coaster ride of tearfulness and emotional sensitivity is a bad thing. But in reality, our emotional sensitivity is what makes us woman and it's important we use this to our advantage! 

I believe this Autumn phase and leading into Winter/Menstruation is the most important phase of a woman. More often than not, females (naturally) go their whole cycle giving to everybody else but themselves. Autumn gives us the chance to sloooooowwww right doooowwwwn and build a stronger relationship with our
own body.

Photography: Brooke DiDonato

Photography: Brooke DiDonato

Within Autumn our emotions are the loudest and most demanding to be felt. Because of this we really need to tune in and learn how to take care of ourselves; listen to our intuition and take the time to connect with our heart. This will make us a better mother, friend, partner and most importantly a stronger person as we are no longer resisting our needs and can give to others from a full cup throughout the rest of the cycle.

Feelings about your relationships, work, friends, life, and self will arise continuously throughout Autumn. Sometimes the messages from our subconscious that come through are hurtful to self or not true ("I am not good enough"). 

Regardless of what comes up, it is important to understand that this phase is about you, not the person or situation. The emotions and self talk that arise are merely messages of what needs some attention, not reality. So instead of suppressing your emotions, choose to connect with your heart and journal about them; discover the underlying causes behind your reactions to situations (maybe your fearful, confused, hurt); dive into your fears, anxiety, needs and your desires. 

However Autumn is not the time to carry out major decisions as we lack logical thinking and the ability to fix.

So do not break up with your boyfriend, call your boss, leave your job or confront individuals. Give yourself this phase to solely think about the feelings around the situation, followed by menstruation (winter phase) to construct a possible plan of action and post menstruation (spring phase) to carry out the major decision. 

Not only are you nesting on an internal level, your nesting skills in life are also peaking. 

You will probably get the urge to clean your entire room top to bottom; clear space in your computer; or clean out the fridge. But these activities can also take a very long time because our subconscious minds are very present and energy levels low, so procrastination is inevitable. Enjoyable procrastination that is! 

Artist: Rachel Jo

Artist: Rachel Jo

Your mind is also noticing and thinking of things that you didn't before.

This gives you the ability to imagine, create and manifest new projects or change your way of thinking for a current project. I will often awake at night, with a poem! I make sure to turn my light on and write it down before falling back asleep - I  know these moments of brilliance are short lived and we must make the most out of it.

If you are a creative (or want to be), this is your time sister! WRITE IT DOWN, MAKE IT HAPPEN.

I can go the whole cycle without the need to write or journal, but as soon as I get to my premenstrual phase - writing is all i do! (I am in my Autumn right now). You will probably get the urge to paint, write lyrics, poems, blog posts, create a mind map for an idea, conjure up a logo. Whatever it is, write your ideas down, and then use your Winter (menstruation) to conjure a strategic plan and then Spring (post menstruation) to make it happen. You will get the urge to create something connected to the heart, as the heart knows what we want and our feelings are very clear. 

NOTE: This is not the time to create goals - you do not have the energy to follow through. Wait for your Winter phase (menstruation). 

Yes, certain circumstances may become very intolerable because of our declining mental ability and endurance - but this is when we need to treasure our needs and heart connection. 

As soon as you feel that overwhelming emotion come over you (or the need to swear, throw something or sit in a grump) - do something for you. Whether that be turning your music up really loud; taking 10 deep breaths; massaging your temples; putting your hands on your heart; taking a walk outside; getting into bed; cuddling a loved one. No matter what, just do it! Your body is asking for it, learn to trust her. 

Photography: Brooke DiDonato

Photography: Brooke DiDonato

When you feel the need to withdraw - please withdraw.

Great for the introverts! Women often experience the need to pull away from people or social situations in the Autumn phase. This is completely natural, because we are craving comfort, intimacy and alone time. Often we can resist these feelings, and that is when our anger/irritability/sadness can fight back and overcome us.  Women actually have the ability to go really deep into meditation at this time, so instead of hitting town - maybe hit your Netflix. 

          SUMMARY

Autumn is the phase for:

Low intensity exercise - yoga, pilates, walking, jogging (very dependant on your energy levels)

Creativity - (take 2 minute creative breaks every now and again throughout your day)

Meditation/journalling/mindful activities that build the heart connection

Feeling your feelings (but don't focus too hard on solutions)

Nurturing of self and slowing down!!

Nesting - clearing of space in your life and mind. Do your domestic chores

FOCUS WORDS: Awareness, Attention, Comfort, Creativity, Nesting, Intuition, Emotion, Subconscious, Surrender, Vulnerability.

Treasure all of the above.

Foods to support your body in Autumn phase:

Iron rich foods - good quality/preferably organic red meat; lightly steamed spinach; lentils, figs; quinoa, sesame seeds, tahini, cacao, 

Fibre - we can tend to feel constipated at this time, so make sure you are getting enough vegetables and fruit within your diet. 

Magnesium rich foods - to support menstrual cramps and hormonal health. Green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate.

Grounding foods - brown rice, sweet potato, carrots, beetroots, ginger (all warmed)

Warming foods - sweet potato, watercress, blackberries, quinoa, oats, lentils, coconut, walnut, fish, miso. 

Foods rich in fats - oily fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel), flax seed oil, flaxseeds, nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut cream/milk/oil, extra virgin olive oil.

Iodine rich foods (especially if you are prone to tender breasts) - kelp salt, nori sheets, seaweed, seafood. 

Qi tonifying foods - your Qi is depleted in menstruation therefore it needs supporting prior to Winter. Oats, rice, shiitake mushroom, turmeric, oysters, mussels, walnut, sweet potato, organic free range chicken, coconut, caraway, cardamon, basil.  

Blood tonic foods - free range organic beef, chives, egg, dandelion, dark leafy greens, figs, mustard leaf, nettle, parsley, spirulina, watercress, organic liver, dates, kidney beans, sardines. 

 
Photography: Jamie Beck @annstreetstudio

Photography: Jamie Beck @annstreetstudio

 

Resources

The Optimized Woman. Using Your Menstrual Cycle To Achieve Success and Fulfilment - Miranda Gray
 

Maddison Leigh Workshop - Period Party learning about the menstrual cycle and the Natural Fertility Method for contraception. Individual or group consultations available
 

Naturopathy consultation: This is super important for women who have a really hard time dealing with their premenstrual phase due strong symptoms arising (rage, tender breasts, pelvic cramps, acne). A naturopath can support nutritional deficiencies and a possible hormonal imbalance.