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Self Devotion: Committing to the Habit of Cycle-Tracking

When we are able to follow and record what our bodies tell us, we can follow the flow more easily and be more in-tune with our nature. This allows us to be better predictors of what our bodies need, better listeners to what they’re telling us they need.

 

With heightened awareness comes more understanding. With more understanding, comes more love and unity with ourselves. 

 

One of the most beneficial ways to understand our bodies and their nature is cycle-tracking. The possibilities are endless for helpful tools - among a wide range of apps, guided journals/calendars, or DIY bullet journal charts - but it’s creating the habit of keeping up with it all that is perhaps more of a challenge.

 

If you want to get to know your body better and dive deeper into your Menstrual Cycle Awareness, having the intention and desire is the first step! You know there is purpose and knowledge in listening to your body & figuring out how it flows!

All photography by Devon Dadoly for Cycles Journal

All photography by Devon Dadoly for Cycles Journal

Charting your cycle is empowering!

 

The goal is to feel good and safe in our bodies during all phases of our cycles. Our bodies and their cycles and patterns are not our enemies, but allies to work with. Even if we have painful or irregular cycles, we should not blame them for the issues we endure, but instead feel gratitude and allyship that our cycles are drawing our attention to the deeper underlying issues that may be causing the pain. We can only discover these symptoms if we are aware and listening.

 

This is a practice in self-care and self-love! We are learning to love what we were told to hate about ourselves. We are learning that our cycles are not a crutch to avoid or get over, but a valuable tool that is full of magic if we learn how to embrace it, understand it and flow with it!

 

The more we are able to dedicate ourselves to this practice of keeping track of it all, the more we will get out of it and the more we will have to reflect on. It’s normal and okay to miss a few days here and there - you’re only human! The goal is to deepen your dedication to yourself and this practice through consistent recordings, but of course this takes practice and perhaps some help forming the habit!

It’s not about self-discipline, but about self-devotion.

 

The goal is to feel dedicated and want to track to find the answers, not to force yourself to do pain-staking work.

One of the many reasons why I designed & illustrated Cycles Journal was to help it feel like a beautiful, sacred space that you’ll want to come back to day after day. When our spaces and tools that we use reflect the level of love and care we know we deserve, we are more likely to find comfort and usefulness in them.

I wanted to share some tips with all of you that helped myself and others feel more devoted to this practice. Some of these tips are also helpful if you’re been trying to track but are struggling to make it a consistent habit - it’s okay, you’re not alone! 

Even if you form a habit, sometimes there will still be days where you don’t have the energy or don’t want to spend the time on charting. It’s all a balance - go easy on yourself the days you need it, but also hold yourself accountable to keep up as much as possible!

 

It’s all about finding your rhythm, and being okay if sometimes we lose it for a moment, but knowing we can always come back and find it when we’re ready.

If you miss a few days, just go back and fill in what you can remember, or let it go and keep moving forward!

 

Tips & tricks that helped me dedicate more deeply to my wellness & consistent tracking:

Leave it where you’ll see it

Leaving your journal somewhere you’ll see it all the time can help you remember to take a moment and spend some time with it. 


Since I like to journal before bedtime in my safe space (my bedroom) I leave my journal open right next to my bedside so that it visually reminds me to come back to it. It’s in a space where I feel calm and can take a moment to write in it.

If you’re a morning person, maybe try leaving it on your kitchen table or at your desk to remind you during your peak time! Or leave it on your altar where you visit in ritual. 


Leave your journal somewhere along your daily routine; wherever you’ll see it often, and wherever you’ll actually use it.

Set a reminder!

For those of you who respond well to scheduling, sometimes we also have to schedule self-care as much as we schedule work! Try putting an alarm or calendar reminder in your phone to sound off and let you know it’s time to take a 5-10 minute break and spend time with your journal/chart!


Pause & connect first

Sometimes you just need to ground first and release the resistance of whatever is stopping you from journaling & cycle-tracking. Sometimes it’s that we feel too busy with work or life to take time for ourselves. Sometimes it’s just worry about what we’ll find. And sometimes we just don’t feel like it!

 

Try breathing first, or moving. Meditation, yoga, breathwork, going for a walk - however you like to ground. Pausing and finding stillness to quiet your mind through first can help you get to the headspace you need to be in. When we feel connected to our bodies, we can listen better.

I often will try to set aside 5 minutes to breathe, and then 5-10 minutes to journal and record my findings from the day in my journal & on my charts. It’s a helpful combination that helps me connect to myself deeper!

Utilize your daily planner as an ally

I personally use a separate planner to track my work, to-do lists & events, and a separate journal to track & chart my menstrual cycle. This helps me focus, and keeps my cycle-tracking space sacred and leaves work & daily life out of it!

I use my daily planner as a reminder to come back to my cycle-tracking journal since sometimes I spend more time with my to-dos than myself. Typical - many of us feel more dedicated to our work and home-life than our self-care and cycle-tracking. This is often because there are more direct and obvious external consequences that will bite us if we neglect them, hence our discipline when it comes to our daily planner tasks. But why don’t we feel the same about our personal health? We’re quite good at ignoring our internal needs, and we’ve gotten used to putting ourselves last in many ways, so the effects of stress and self-neglect often feel normal to us. Society has helped us to normalize work before self. It’s time for that to change!

I use my daily planner in tandem with my menstrual cycle. I use my planner to write reminders to hop back into my Cycles Journal, and I use my cycle-tracking charts to transfer my menstrual cycle phases into my planner so I know when I’m bleeding and ovulating and such so I can plan things around or on the days I need.

Remember; something is better than nothing

Some days you may not have a ton of energy to journal or go over every tracking-point. On these days, I say something is better than nothing! Just fill in what you can. Even if it’s only a few things, those will be the most significant things and therefore will still be helpful!




Come back to it later

Not feeling it at all? Skip today! Skip tomorrow if you need to. But maybe in 3 days you get yourself to come back to it, and you remember a few things that stood out from the past days you didn’t record your symptoms. Perfect! Just fill in what you can and keep on moving forward.




Forgive yourself and get back on it

Forgiveness is always key when trying to form any sort of habit or routine. If we only beat ourselves up when we don’t do what we wanted to do, progress won’t be made and self-love sure isn’t present. We are only human, and we are building a practice, not creating harsh discipline.



No matter how long you’ve strayed from your tracking habits, it’s never too late to hop back in and try again. Keep your eyes on the moon.


Sometimes our lack of traction with our new habits is a sign that we’re making leaps that are a bit too big for the moment. It’s best to ease ourselves into new situations. So instead of trying to go from 0 days a week to 7 days a week, try starting with a smaller goal. Maybe you begin trying to track 2-3 days a week. Then work your way up from there. It’s always okay to adjust our goals and routines!




Keep notes when it’s not on you

If you use a journal or other physical charting tool like I do, it’s likely that you don’t bring it everywhere. I’ll bring mine with me on trips, but not around with me during the day. Therefore, when I’m away from it, I will take notes when I notice symptoms or anything significant pop up. 



I’m a fan of using the notes app on my phone, since it’s always on me. I’ll also use a notebook or sketchbook, or even a space in my planner that I may have on me. Then I transfer those notes to my journal/chart once I’m home so that it’s all in one place again!



Another way I like to keep notes but also remind myself to transfer them is I’ll email myself! Keeping an email thread helps me remember there’s still an action to take. Once I read and transfer the email, I can delete it or mark it as read, so that the job is done and information is where it should be!

Allow community to uplift you

Community can inspire and remind us to love ourselves the way we love others.

 

Ever find yourself with a friend or in a group giving amazing advice and such loving, caring support? Then an hour later find yourself being harsh with yourself when you mess up or forget something, and not taking the great advice your just gave someone else? Yep.

We should treat ourselves as kindly as we treat our loved ones when they’re in need. Pay attention to this - our relationships and communities are a mirror and they can help us hold ourselves accountable, and help us to learn and grow into who we truly are inside!

 

It also helps when you have friends and loved ones who are on the same self-care journey as you are, who also track or do similar things. Their actions can help remind you, and you can support one another in keeping to your goals! If you’re in search of some support, I have a free cycle-tracking Facebook support group that all are welcome to join!



Make it a ritual

Better than habit or routine, is ritual. It works similarly, but it’s all mindset. If you think of your cycle-tracking as a chore or dreaded habit you’re trying to form, chances are you’ll just keep forming resistance to dedicating to it.

 

But what if we think of this helpful tool as part of our ritual? It can be a much more enticing and spiritually-linked practice than just charting. I believe that tracking our cycles is not only technical but also healing and spiritual in the sense that it connects us to our cyclical nature, our true inner magic. We are learning to harness these inner tides and flow with their high and low peaks.

Try linking your tracking to your other rituals you may frequent, see if it helps you shift the perspective!

Find a tool that works best for you

Because keeping track of it all in our heads is just not enough! It can take some trial and error to figure out what you like best.

Apps are great for convenience and special features but can be hard to feel committed to, making your own chart is the most customizable but can be time consuming, and pre-made journals/calendars are helpful guides that are a bit more in depth if you’re looking for a deeper dive.

 

If you’re looking for a physical tool to help you keep track and ritualize your self-care routine and cycle-tracking habits, check out Cycles Journal; an illustrated guide to tracking your menstrual cycle alongside lunar influence

Happy tracking - remember that everything is cyclical and nothing is linear. This is why you always have the power to change and open new portals and findings within your life. <3

How do you keep up with your habits & tracking? What helps you commit?

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