The average person spends a third of their lives working. For the uninitiated, that is over 90,000 hours. However you look at it, that is a lot of time spent earning an income to pay bills, putting a roof over our heads, looking after our own and our children’s health and so on. Work is the energy we put in to earn the money we need to improve the quality of our life.
In the olden days, it was predominantly men who went out to work. Women were expected to be homemakers and child bearers. So the man would get the money, while the woman would usually buy the bread and look after the kids. Today, women are empowered to make their living independent of any man regardless of their marital status. Many single women enjoy their financial independence, while those who are married contribute to a sustainable double-income household. So it’s definitely a sign of positive changes in society. However, this isn’t to say that things are perfect in today’s world of working women – there is still plenty of room for improvement. Something that needs to be talked about is the impact menstruation has on the ability of a person on their periods to work productively. Each month, periods account for about five days of a menstruators life. When working an intense job, you can imagine the stress of a woman having to balance deadlines and her periods at the same time. But it needs to be done, and the good news is that it can be done.
If a woman understands her hormonal cycle and learns how to sync it with the demands of her work and life, then it will do wonders in helping her use her energy and productivity levels at the right time. Not all menstruators bleed the same and not all menstruators are women. Some of them may have severe pains on the second day of their period or some might feel that all five days are just agony. Back pains, nausea, stomach cramps, sweating – the side effects of menstruation are innumerable and different for everyone. While it would be perfectly lovely to be able to spend two of those five days resting at home with medicines and hot water bags, there are only a handful of privileged people who can afford that luxury. But what about the people that can’t? Or the people that don’t want to? Some may be ambitious to the point of willing to continue working, regardless of the personal pain they may have to be in, while others may have to go to work because they cannot afford any pay cuts. These are the menstruators who would do well to understand how their cycles work.
There is plenty of research to highlight the strong effects that estrogen and progesterone hormones (menstrual hormones) have on us. In the past, there was an emphasis on the drawbacks associated with hormonal imbalances rather than any benefits that may arise. The knee-jerk reaction of the medical community to opt to suppress the female natural cycle using strong synthetic hormones is disappointing. Instead, women should ideally be encouraged and taught to follow a well-balanced diet, partaking in regular exercise and managing stress levels can work wonders in eliminating an imbalance and allowing it to be well-balanced. A holistic approach will permit menstruators to understand the period cycle and use it to play to their strengths.
Men do not have to worry about planning ahead for the month. Their role is straightforward – wake up, get to work, go home, sleep and repeat the cycle all over again. The occasional sickness leave or mental health day may occur, but for women, the menstruation cycle happens over and over again. So we need to be looking at a woman’s work-life through a female lens, keeping in mind when their productivity levels are at their highest. By tracking cycles, women can tune in to the hormonal fluctuations that take place over the month and eat, drink, plan, and live their lives in order to optimize function with these changes considered. This is known as Cycle Syncing. So, let us understand the four phases of menstruation and what sort of work and productivity levels one can be expected to achieve during these respective phases.
Phase 1 – The Follicular Phase (between 6-14 days long) – The best time for high productivity for a woman during her menstrual cycle is the follicular phase. It begins at the start of the period and lasts for about 10 to 14 days. Access to creative energy is at its peak at this point, hormones are low, and the body increases estrogen. This is a time to try new things and be open to new ideas and starting new work projects. It is an excellent time to plan for the month and meet people to brainstorm and have big dreams. Anything is possible here.
Phase 2 – The Ovulatory Phase (between 15-17 days long) – In this phase, the chemistry in the brain sharpens conversational skills. So communication and collaboration are at their peak here. Now is the time for necessary conversations. Be it broker deals, asking for a salary raise, working well with your colleagues – wherever your verbal skills are needed, use them!
Phase 3 – The Luteal Phase (between 18-28 days long) – The third phase is known as the Power phase. The time for getting things done. Have a long to-do list? This is where you probably will be ticking off most of the tasks and feeling a sense of pleasure and achievement on finishing these tasks. Being the longest phase of the cycle makes it the best one – use this time to be extremely focused and attentive to every little detail. The end result will be flawless. Conclude projects, finish your administrative jobs like accounting and reporting.
Phase 4: The Menstruation Phase (between 1-5 days long) – This is the time for reflecting on the past month and listening to your intuition. The left and right hemispheres of the brain are in strong contact, meaning you can access reasoning that is both analytical and intuitive. Ask yourself questions about your performance. Were you able to get on with the people in your office? Is the project you are working on making you satisfied with your job? What are you feeling about your work in general? Are there any adjustments, big or small, to be made to further your career or general state of happiness and well being?
Once you understand the phases in your menstruation cycle, you may be able to tap into better work performance and overall job satisfaction. By understanding your cycle and how certain hormones have an effect on your creativity, mood, energy levels, productivity – it allows you to be in control of your body instead of letting something as natural as menstruation control you. Create a schedule that works best for you and use female-centric apps with inbuilt calendars to keep track of your last cycle. Mark your phases and plan what type of work you intend to do in those phases. Let us be empowered to cycle sync our way to success and stability.
At GiveHer5, we believe that women should never have to compromise on their dreams and aspirations because of something as natural as their periods. Yet, approximately 400 of 600 million women in India can’t afford sanitary protection and are forced to miss 5 days of either school or work every month. You can help change this. Visit www.giveher5.org to know how.