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On the Cyclical Nature of Stress & Menstruation

Our world is quite externally driven under the sun, often with a lack of space in our busy schedules and to-do lists designated to turn inwards, focus on self-care and slow down. 

The moon is our external reminder to focus inwards - it reminds us of our connection to the tides of Earth’s oceans; both of us being 70% water and influenced by lunar pulls. Waxing and waning, ebbing and flowing, our internal tides are always shifting. 

“Stress” has become a common word used with little weight tied to it. It seems we have normalized its accompaniment in our lives. Perhaps we think we’re okay with its presence because we don’t think its effects are much to worry about. Sadly, stress is a slow-spreading dis-ease that 

Feeling stressed, anxious, over-tired, irritable can be caused by a mixture of things, but I can guarantee that it all is a product of a lack of self-care in our lives. The less we pay attention to our bodies, the more out of balance we become. Our lack of connection to nature reflects in the way we treat our bodies and often disregard our menstrual cycles. 

The majority of us experience a monthly menstrual cycle, some of us more or less. Whether you bleed or not during it, you still experience hormonal fluxes and other aspects of cycling. Whatever we experience, we are always within the cycle. 

The menstrual cycle is an enormous part of our lives, yet we tend to brush it aside and keep working full speed ahead throughout it. This is mostly because we don’t get time off for our periods, or even much empathy for our pain during it. But this is also because dreading, avoiding and shaming our cycles (whether conscious or not, for we have mostly learned this behavior) causes us to forget that our cycles are a sacred, magical thing. I mean, we bleed and shed internally and instead of harming us it creates life. Whether you use this power to have a child or not, you are a powerful, resilient vessel who balances life on top of this active experience that we often mistake for passively occurring.

Our cycle is a reminder to reconnect and rest. Our time of bleeding, cramping, or whatever that difficult period is for you is a signal to slow down and be with your body. Your body cannot root and heal if you keep moving, and it cannot release as smoothly if we are holding everyday tension in our bodies. Menstruation is a reminder for self-care and stress relief, pronto!

The moon also reminds us to rest in times of the new moon when it is darker. For some of us it’s the opposite, and the high tides of the full moon exhaust us into needing more release. We all experience our own cycles and the lunar cycles differently. And for those of us who don’t bleed or experience harsh menstrual cycle symptoms, then the moon can be our signifier of “time to rest and recoup”.

I know that it isn’t doable for most of us to take a week off work while we bleed or experience the difficult parts of our cycles, and instead spend it instead in the tub, at the beach, or in yoga classes. I wish that all our jobs would close on the new moon so we could all hold space and reset our busy minds and ground our bodies. Sadly we are past the days of the red tent, although many are making strides to reclaim this sacred tradition of rest & community back into our modern world.

So how do we compromise? How do we stress less about adding another “task” to prioritize in our lives? First, BREATHE. I don’t just mean ‘chill out, take a breath’. I mean breeeaaathhheeee. Feel into it. Take deeper breaths, try a breath-work practice, move stuck energy around with your beautiful tool that is your breath. You can do this.

When we integrate methods of self-care and find time to turn inwards, and use physical reminders to keep us grounded. We can schedule these on our calendars and to-do lists and make it just as much of a priority as your other work. Or we can do it organically as we feel like it. What matters is that you make some time for it, if not every day, at least once or twice a week. Start small, then work your way up. We all need reminders, and no matter what your method of organization, having a place to keep track of it all is essential. Self-care should be a priority in your life - you deserve this.

We all have the time, it’s just a matter or organizing our to-dos to make room for these un-dos.

Physical reminders work best for me personally. Apps for habits and cycle tracking have never worked for me because they get lost in the abyss of my smartphone. Plus, screen-time is draining. So I dedicate myself to a journal that is designated specifically to my menstrual cycle and all that influences it. It’s a physical space where I can pause, reflect, and record my symptoms. It is not only a place for release, but also a place for discovery where I can pin-point my body’s habits or inconsistencies, and hopefully better understand myself so that I can prepare as much as possible for the difficult parts of my cycle. If I can finally remember that I tend to have wild mood swings a day or two before I bleed, which is currently a few days before the new moon, I can use these landmarks as ways to pinpoint and navigate my life more smoothly.

When we track our cycles, we are creating a map of patterns through which we can navigate our body’s unique nature.

Therefore less room for added stress, detours from self-care, and less reasons to dislike ourselves and our cycles! The goal is to end the war between ourselves and our menstrual cycles. We must work together in this body ~ self love through awareness is the answer, and your moon & menstrual-tracking journal is the answer. 

I created Cycles Journal out of my own desire to find solace in all my wild fluxes and flows. I knew I was a valid, good human, but I needed a place to take the blame off of myself and find understanding instead of frustration. In making it, I knew that it could help every other person with a uterus who experiences high and low tides regularly in our cyclical lives. There are patterns within nature, and we are a part of it. If we seek to understand them, the intention will lead us to more peace, and less stress.

Cycles Journal is independently created & self-published by artist Rachael Amber. Learn more about Cycles Journal below.

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