The four different menstrual phases are commonly linked to the four seasons: Menstruation is considered winter, the Follicular phase is spring, Ovulation is summer and the Luteal phase is fall. With summer officially behind us, we're diving into the "autumn" season of your cycle — what it means, the common symptoms and what you can do to support your body throughout this phase.
The fall season of your cycle is called the luteal phase, which comes right after ovulation. This period is most notably known for the significant drop in oestrogen levels in the body, causing fluctuations to our energy, mood, and behaviors. Often called the body's "inner fall," this is when your body is prepping for menstruation (aka PMS).
While this stage of the cycle gets a bad rap, its intended purpose is to get us to slow down and tune into ourselves. This energy is great for self reflection and introspection, asking us to go inwards and tap into our intuition. While this period may feel chaotic and uneasy due to fluctuating hormones, it also brings a level of brutal honesty and a no bullsh*t attitude to our lives.
While every body varies, the common symptoms of this stage include:
• Lethargy, malaise and sluggishness
• Mood swings
• Anxiety, irritability or reactivity
• Heightened self criticism
• Cravings for comfort food
• Feeling anti-social and craving solitude
First and foremost: listen to the signals your body is trying to send you. Feel like ditching that social engagement you made weeks ago? Ditch the shame and don't think twice — your body will thank you for it. This phase can be surprisingly rewarding when we actually listen to what we need. Self-care should be your top priority. Here's a few of our favourite "fall" activities:
Like we mentioned already, self reflection can be incredibly potent during this phase. Do a ritual check-in with yourself and write down how things are going in your life. What's something you're proud of from the last month? What's an area of your life that could use more balance? What's the biggest lesson you've learned in the past month? Turn the spotlight on yourself and get personal.
Nothing stirs the soul like a good solo nature walk (pups allowed). This doesn't have to be a big orchestrated outing, just slip on some comfortable shoes and head out for a lil stroll. Whether it's a loop around the block or a nature hike, the fresh air will help you feel grounded and clear-headed.
We're no stranger to a good, long, hot bath. Dress up the occasion with epsom salts, bath bombs, candles and maybe a cuppa yin & tonic for good measure. If you experience painful cramps during this phase, we also recommend popping in a few drops of holy cramp directly into the water for a good dose of cbd and aromatherapeutic botanicals.
Alright, so this may not be the sexiest recommendation, but hear us out: your triggers are your biggest teachers. You might be feeling extra testy during this phase, but there could be a silver lining to your feisty mood. The next time you find something seriously irritating you, take a step back and figure out 1. if there's a deeper reason behind your irritation and 2. how you can remove/avoid the trigger moving forward or shift your perspective about whatever it is that's bothering you. Chances are you'll gain some serious self awareness if you can take a step back and analyze the situation versus getting reactive.
Just do it. Slip into something comfy, roll back those sheets, and revel in some daytime zzzzs if your body needs it. No shame or guilt allowed (in fact, studies have shown that people who regularly power nap are not only more productive, but more satisfied overall).
Your usual 5-mile run might not be in the cards during this phase, and that's a-okay. Opt for gentle, slow movement instead. We love a good yin yoga session or even just a 20-minute self-guided stretch. Again, let your body be your guide.
Got any more tips for mastering the fall phase of your cycle? Send them our way on social @im_ohne.
Image credit: Hayley Murray (Unsplash)