Women’s Health at Work: 3 tips to feel and perform at your best throughout your cycle
Do all women struggle at “that time of the month”? Certainly not. But research shows that the menstrual cycle does affect the wellbeing and work lives of many. A recent study suggests 45% of women have skipped work, and 2 in 3 feel less productive, because of their cycle. And we know from the knowledge-sharing session we run at corporate firms, that many women don’t have enough coping skills to manage these symptoms.
The good news is: when equipped with the right knowledge, the unpleasant side-effects of female hormones can be largely mitigated. So, in the frame of International Women’s Day this March, let’s shine some light on how to do just that!
Women’s health practitioner and wellbeing coach at Moments that Matter, Sofie Jacobs, shares her three top tips to feel and perform at your best throughout your cycle.
1.Track your cycle and symptoms
The menstrual cycle is a hormonal roller-coaster, so the best we can do is know what to expect at each turn! Tracking your cycle and symptoms is the first step towards understanding your hormones well enough to manage them.
Your cycle has four phases: your bleed days, pre-ovulation, ovulation, and pre-menstruation. With the help of a tracking app, you will spot patterns in how each phase makes you feel physically, mentally and emotionally.
Armed with this knowledge, you’re much likelier to find ways to manage those symptoms. In fact, a study found that users of a tracking app are up to 16% less likely to take days off for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms.
Remember to track positive symptoms too! It’s not rare, for instance, to get a confidence and energy boost around ovulation due to the rise in estrogen level.
2.Adapt to the phases of your cycle
Once you know what to expect at each stage, what lifestyle adjustments can you make? We hold entire seminars to help working women regain control of their hormones, but even a handful of microstrategies can go a long way – so here are some ideas.
During pre-menstruation, progesterone and estrogen levels will plummet. This can leave you feeling tired, bloated, less focused – and reaching out for sweet, starchy foods for a quick boost. Their inflammatory effect (and ensuing sugar crash) will only worsen your symptoms. Instead, try eating more protein, fiber and magnesium-rich food on these days to stabilise your energy, mood and efficiency.
Whenever possible, use positive symptoms to your advantage. For example, (pre)ovulation – when high estrogen levels give you a self-esteem boost – can be a good time for presentations and difficult meetings.
3.Focus on what you can influence
It won’t always be possible to rearrange your life around your cycle. As coaches, we often advise people to ask themselves: how can I accept what I can’t control, and focus on positively influencing what I can?
In the context of female hormones, this means strengthening your health foundations so you’re less susceptible to the hormonal ups and downs of womanhood. We call this: building up your BASE buffer, and it has four key elements – Breathing techniques, Activity, Sleep and Eating.
Exercising, sleeping well, eating well and de-stressing through conscious breathing are not just healthy habits – they’re also the pillars of hormonal health. In a recent study, women who exercised regularly noticed significant improvements in their PMS symptoms.
All this goes to show: women’s hormones are inescapable, but their negative side-effects don’t have to be! Let’s spread this knowledge – because it’s time for women to work with, not against, their hormones.
Interested in bringing women’s health topics into your organisation? Find out more about our wellbeing sessions and programmes, or schedule a discovery call with us today.