Working with your and nature’s cycles in your leadership and workplace
And what it has to do with feminine energy
I’m back this week with what is hopefully an educational essay on better understanding cyclical living, and our menstrual cycles (if we have them), and how these can be more deeply attuned to and understood so we can take advantage of natural energy flows and ways of being in our leadership and work. (And don’t worry, if you don’t have a period for any reason — you don’t have a womb, you’re post-menopausal, you’re pregnant or breastfeeding right now, you’re on birth control, I have information in here too for how you can still tune into these cycles.)
(If you’ve missed my previous articles because you’re new to this email list, you can access them on my LinkedIn here.)
But first I want to really hopefully land how important it is to bring our bodies into our leadership, and why I will be focusing on teaching several modules around bodies, health habits and routines and nutrition for highly sensitive people in The Highly Sensitive Person Leadership Academy.
I don’t LOVE using a warfare/military analogy for this but it’s the best one I could think of, so just go with me:
Imagine you’re a general leading hundreds or thousands of troops into battle, and you’re doing that while riding a horse.
In my admittedly slightly tortured analogy here…
The general = your mind.
The horse = your body.
For the general to lead effectively, with energy, precision, stamina, skill, that general and their horse MUST be deeply connected and in tune with each other. And the health and care of the horse must be top notch.
Imagine a general trying to go into battle with a horse that only sleeps a few hours a night, who never goes outside, that is running fueled by caffeine and adrenaline, that is stuck in chronic stress and fight/flight, that the general is simply trying to drag out there and get to perform in abusive ways.
It’d be a pretty sad horse, and situation.
That said, that’s what many of us are doing in leadership with our own bodies.
We don’t prioritize sleep or nutrition. We get energy from caffeine. We rarely go outside or look away from our screens. We don’t consider the mind-body connection. We don’t stretch, or walk, or lift weights.
We don’t treat our bodies as sacred vessels for our leadership and work we want to put into the world.
Now, admittedly, it’s REALLY HARD in today’s society to take care of our bodies. We’re such a mind-dominant society, we all have been conditioned (and encouraged in many ways!) to ignore prioritizing the needs of our bodies. And it can be difficult to find the time and motivation to do so.
Or we have messaged that we should take care of our bodies, but it’s only so that we can dominate our bodies and make them adapt to a patriarchal standard of appearance and weight. (That’s not at all what I’m suggesting, to be clear. This is about nourishment and treating the body as a sacred vessel.)
But the body IS necessary for effective leadership, I find. When the body is nourished, rested, regulated, treated as this “sacred vessel,” our leadership grows. We are more grounded, regulated, rested, authentic, powerful.
One way we can begin to get back in tune with our bodies in this way is to tune into our cycles.
I’m going to give just the basics here; we’ll be diving more deeply into this in HLA, and there are also lots of other resources out there that can help you understand this approach.
But let’s talk tuning into our menstrual cycles and its evolving and flowing energy — and what it has to do with work and leadership.
First and foremost: If you are a person with a period, you are designed to cycle consistently every 25–35 days. These cycles are broken down into four distinct phases:
Day 1, first phase: Bleeding. This can last anywhere from 3–7 days.
Phase 2: Follicular. This overlaps with menstrual as well, and then moves into non-bleeding. This phase is characterized by the growth of new follicles in the ovaries. During this phase, your estrogen levels gradually increase, which can improve your mood and energy levels.
Phase 3: The ovulatory phase is the third phase of your menstrual cycle which typically lasts for about 1 to 2 days, and is characterized by the release of an egg from the ovaries. During this phase, your estrogen and progesterone levels are at their highest, which can boost your mood, energy levels, and libido.
Phase 4: Luteal phase. This is often the 12–14 days leading up to your period starting, and you may feel lower energy, irritability, or physical symptoms being pronounced here, especially as you get closer to the date of your bleed.
So now that we have a basic review of the phases, how can we choose to work with each of them, and why?
Well, you can align your productivity, your tasks, and what you need to get done with the energy of each phase.
This is also important to practice because we operate in a workplace (and world) that is built off the male circadian rhythm. AKA, every 24 hours, the male energy cycles through and begins again, just like the sun. So the male and circadian rhythm can operate with similar stamina pretty much every day, with predictable rhythms and output.
However, if you identify as a woman, femme, or have a cycle, we move at monthly cycles.
We are the moon.
So showing up with the same energy or abilities every single day, 24/7, is not really natural or even possible for us. Yet it’s what we’ve been forced into as we work in a patriarchal model and cycle.
So when we begin to align with our cycle, the seasons, and the moon (as I’ll talk about below), we are reclaiming feminine energies and cycles as a natural way of life, and therefore work and leadership.
This is how we can begin to reflect and redirect…
Phase 1, Menstrual: This is the seasonal energy of “winter” and is an inwards period. This is a time of resting and reflection and review. You may want to take a day or two of PTO off here if you’re able or work from home. It’s not an ideal time for scheduling public speaking or big presentations, if you can help it.
Phase 2, Follicular: This is the seasonal energy of “spring” and you’ll likely have a good amount of energy here. This is an outwards-facing energy that’s great for creating content, writing, researching, launching new things.
Phase 3, Ovulatory: This is the seasonal energy of “summer” and it’s great for being out and about in the world. This is another outward-facing phase. If you can (and we can’t always!) scheduling public speaking, group work, interviews or networking is wonderful for this time.
Phase 4, Luteal: We begin the turn inwards again for this phase, with the energy of “autumn”. This is great for admin work, or work that takes a little less brain power. You may not be feeling social here and will be feeling a little more reflective and internal. This is also a great time for wrapping up projects because this is an energy of completion.
And then the cycle starts over again!
Now, you don’t have to align everything perfectly (nor is it possible to really do so in our world). I mean, if Oprah calls me for an interview while I’m menstruating, you better believe I’m going to make that work.
But if we can even shift 5–10% of our awareness and tasks to align with our cycles, it can make a really lovely different in feeling more in flow, aligned, and having the right energy for the tasks at hand.
I’ll teach how I incorporate this approach into my Google calendar and work planning inside of HLA.
What do you do, though, if you don’t have a cycle or a predictable cycle? We turn to one of my favorite helpers in nature: The moon! Each of the menstrual phases above also has a moon energy to it that we can use. And, tracking our energy levels with the moon general is such a wonderful way of connecting more to the natural world overall, period or no.
In something that is no mistake, the moon has a regular cycle that lasts 29.5 days, with four distinct phases, each of which have their own energy. These four phases and energies have the same qualities as the phases of the menstrual cycle and the seasons.
This is cyclical living at its finest.
So, if you were using the moon to track these phases…
New moon aligns with winter and the menstrual/bleeding cycle. Rest here and listen to intuition.
Waxing moon (as the moon builds up to full over the course of the next weeks): This aligns with spring and follicular cycle. Create content, map out a project, start something new.
Full moon is the same energy as summer and ovulation. It’s go time, ya’ll. Be public, book speaking engagements, go out and about and shine your beautiful self along with the light of the full moon.
Waning moon — this is when the moon starts shifting back to the darkness of the new moon and it’s aligning with luteal and autumn. Admin, bookkeeping, metrics tracking, project completion and wrap up is great here.
In HLA, we’re actually going to go really deep into using BOTH the moon and menstrual cycles (if we have one) to reflect on these phases.
Because the body heralds our leadership abilities.
In HLA, I’ll have an entire module dedicated to The Body and Health Routines of an HSP Leader:
- Understanding and nourishing your body as your leadership vessel
- Working with your menstrual cycle, and/or the cycles of nature, to lead effectively
- Effective health and nutritional habits for HSPs
- Creating your leadership nourishment routine and habits
For now, I hope the information above helps give you a good starting point for using the cycles of nature — and you, cuz your nature, my friend — in your work and leadership.
Please comment with any questions! And don’t forget to add to your calendar 8pmET on September 5, 6 and 7th for the Highly Sensitive Person Leadership Summit!
PS: Don’t forget that waitlist enrollment for HLA will begin September 5 with some bonuses if you sign up on the first day :) You can read all the HLA deets here to gauge if it’s a right fit for you.