We live in a world where we’re expected to be productive and available all the time— if we’re not answering emails, we’re in a meeting. If we’re not in a meeting, we’re working towards a deadline. There’s bills, groceries, taxes. But traditionally, the days of the menstrual cycle spent bleeding were a moment to say “no” to the external world, to retreat and pay attention to the wisdom of the body. It’s a time made for releasing what no longer serves us, clearing our calendars (as much as possible), and attending to our inner world.
“If women are seeking to shift the imbalances created by the patriarchy, we must stop modeling our lives on a masculine biochemical 24-hour schedule. It’s time to work based on a female paradigm of productivity, success and fulfillment,” says Alissa Vitti, HHC, AADP, a women’s Menstrual Health Expert, Functional Nutritionist, and best-selling author of WomanCode.
Often, our energy levels are the lowest during menstruation, so it’s no wonder there’s a sense of doom surrounding an upcoming period. Many of us experience pain, discomfort, bloating… the list goes on and on. Often our periods are seen as a burden, which of course makes sense when we are expected to live our lives as we would all other days of the month.
Part of the desire to avoid treating these days any differently might come from disputing the idea that we couldn’t or shouldn’t live like everybody else while on our periods. Historically, women were told they couldn’t share the same spaces as others while menstruating, couldn’t eat dairy, couldn’t bathe in cold water, couldn’t make “rational” decisions (i.e., too emotional to vote), couldn’t have sex, and couldn’t go into space.
But respecting your hormonal cycle doesn’t mean you’re buying into these stereotypes. It’s actually a form of reclaiming the body from, as Vitti calls it, “the masculine 24-hour schedule.”
When your period begins, think of it as an opportunity to communicate that you need extra rest and space from the people who love you and who you love. Take a bath, light candles, spend some extra time journaling, and eat foods high in magnesium and iron (yes, there’s a reason for those chocolate cravings). You might also reflect on what’s been going on for you since the last time you bled, similar to how you might use the new moon and full moon to set intentions and then reflect upon those intentions.
Taking time to rest while on your period (as well as adjusting your daily habits and schedules depending on the phase of your hormonal cycle) is a way to tap into your inner wisdom and intuition. Let’s reframe resting during these days of a month as a way to harness our strength, instead of indicating that our periods are weakness.