Cycle Syncing: Menstrual Phase
When it comes to your flow, it’s time to move slow. During menstruation, your estrogen and progesterone levels plummet as the uterine lining begins to shed. This phase of your cycle usually lasts from 3-7 days, and can come with a host of symptoms from cramping to acne and most notably, fatigue. Bleeding can deplete your iron levels as well as your energy. Remind yourself that it’s okay to slow down during this time and honor your need for more rest.
What to Eat
Since your period can see a serious drop in your iron levels, it’s time to bulk up on foods that help replenish this vital mineral in your body. Leafy greens, red meat, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, and dark chocolate are all great dietary sources of iron. Make sure you pair these with foods high in vitamin C to help aid iron absorption such as red bell peppers, oranges, and broccoli.
Drinking soothing tea such as raspberry leaf or chamomile can help with cramping. And while you may be keen on craving sweets, try to limit your intake of processed sugar and indulge in high quality dark chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth.
This is also a time to focus on getting plenty of omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, since research has shown these to decrease symptoms related to mood, bloating, and breast tenderness.² Salmon and flaxseed are two powerhouse staples for this time of the month.
How to Exercise
Usually, your menstrual phase is a time to slow down and take some extra rest, especially during those first couple days of heavier bleeding. Restorative and yin yoga are great options to stretch and move your body while still honoring your energy levels. If you’re a highly active person, think of this as your recovery week, replenishing your body for the activity to come in the weeks ahead.
Of course, you are the expert on your own body, so if you have the energy and feel like going for a brisk walk or doing pilates, by all means do it! Just stay aware that you may have lower pain tolerance during your period, and move only in ways that feel good for your body.³
Think of this as your hibernation week. You don’t have to cancel all your plans or take the week off from work, but as you’re planning out your monthly schedule, try to lighten the load for this phase of your menstrual cycle. When your energy is low, you need to retreat and take care of yourself, protecting your energy for only the most vital tasks on your to-do list.
As you turn inward, this can be a great time for self-reflection and journaling as you think about how you would like to spend your time when your energy increases once more. Read a good book, pamper yourself, nap. This is your time to slow down and focus on you!
¹ PMID: 18592262
² Science Direct
³ PMID: 12705527