APR 7, 2021 AT 4:00 PMLet’s Talk About Stress
Cycle awareness has given me personal insights into my body, my emotions, my functionality as a woman. For example, as I ovulate on day 10 not the stated day 13. I have a menstrual cycle of 30 days. Day 2 of my period is heavy and the days after this are noticeably lighter. I do have premenstrual stress and I would say I have had PME (Pre-menstrual Exhaustion) and PMDD (pre-menstrual Dysphoric Disorder) in some cycles, but not all.
Feeling tired and sensitive is also a chemical response to the peak in progesterone which is an outward sign of the inner necessity for my space. The holistic practitioner in me brings forwards the tools for self-reflection, morning pages, self-reflexology, self-massage, aromatherapy and meditation. Failing my self-care has me recognising these signs,
· Neck tension
· Needing solitude
· Sleeping in the day and napping (although, essential)
· Lower backache
· Painful thumbs
· Hot and cold and both together
How the brain sees stress
I think of the womb as the brain. It remembers, it also needs to clear trauma, negative situations and dramas that have occurred. When we consider the corpus luteum and its development, it has been maturing as a dominant follicle and has been in development for the cycle. The womb (and by the womb I mean all our female structures, ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus or womb, the cervix, vagina and vulva), our female anatomy transforms and configures in a cycle. It rises and it releases, it needs time to release, process just as much as the stress in our heads. The body has a way of storing dates, anniversaries and even if we do not remember an event from the past, sometimes the body will. Regular releasing as a ritual at the menstrual phase helps us along in life. The ancestors of our past knew the importance of such rites of passage. Rituals do not have to be elaborate or ancient, but by all means go ahead, they can also be as modern and easy as you like. From a ceremonial old jumper for your days of comfort when you get home to lighting a candle for your time on the sofa with a cup of tea. As long as you recognise the significance, that it is all about you and your time.
I am aware that cumulative stress is a factor in stress responses as well as hereditary and childhood circumstances. We all can cope with stress as a response, but repeated episodes can develop into anxiety. I had several episodes of stressful events in a short period of time. This led to panic attacks and trauma responses effecting my day to day. I did seek help from professionals as well as private practitioners, a hypnotherapist for EMDR, reiki practitioners and mediation groups. I found that the most affective approaches where ones that allowed me to express by responses and not the ones where I needed to consider the re-enactment of the events. Trigger responses are real, and the anxiety the body remembers is a reaction. Listening and witnessing are great stress reducers I find, a group of great active listeners, and self-care all are very conducive to a reduction in the stress responses.
It was when I entered perimenopause, I found the stress returned on a sliding scale from PMS (pre-menstrual stress) to premenstrual exhaustion to premenstrual dysphoric disorder. I needed to take another look at trauma responses and how this was isolated to my autumn phase. My thoughts needed to be addressed as I could identify negative thought through my mind. I began a practice called morning pages. This is where I sit and write all the thoughts onto paper. All those thoughts at a rapid rate get marked down so they do not continue to circle around in my head. This could be shopping lists, negative self-talk to past and reoccurring thoughts. Writing it all down allowed me to witness the thoughts, see them and then stop the recurring cycling of them. I was able to then quiet the mind and settle into some relaxation. All this was occurring within an hour of waking up.
Throughout the day I had alerts on my phone with positive affirmations, I would eat more frequently, and supplement my body with healthy foods, lots of water and herbal teas. I was basically putting my needs first not last. I need to have reminders throughout this phase that I was a sovereign state and no one or no-thing could pass without permission. Some months my needs and territory are more amplified that others.
For me groups support, along with self-care are long term practices. Sometimes a breathing meditation works better than a yoga class due to how tired I feel. Other days I like the get outside in nature and do some physical exercise. Having a range of useful practices means I can vary them according to how I feel. Considering we are extremely sensitive at this time in all ways it is worth addressing individual needs relating to our senses. Both as a way of nurturing and how we sense all things around us at this time.
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