Sadly, the image of the burnt-out mum has become an all too familiar sight, particularly with the additional burdens placed on many mothers during the last two years. However, I truly believe that with some basic information, simple steps can be taken to take back control of our energy, balance our mood and improve our wellbeing.
With an extensive background of working in the Criminal Justice system, where I specialised in working with young women who had experienced trauma and abuse, I have always been passionate about empowering women. Growing up, I was very aware of the cyclical nature of the moon, earth and was conscious of energy.
As I began my career working with young people who had experienced very challenging circumstances, I knew I needed something to balance the heavy energy of the work, so spent much of my time training in healing modalities and learning about health in order to maintain a balance.
How motherhood changed my path
As I began my own journey to motherhood, my feminist values really made themselves known (!). I had my first daughter 8 years ago and, like many mothers, my priorities changed. Being a senior manager within the rigidity of a 9-5 structure, I could feel my health was being damaged and ultimately impacting our family unit. I found myself no longer being aligned to the values of the organisation for which I was working and yet I was sacrificing some of my own family values by staying there…… I knew I had to answer a new call, and when my second daughter was a toddler, I took a leap of faith and set up my own business to follow my passion as a Women’s Health Practitioner.
Whilst I knew this was my calling, occasionally I found I was being challenged about why I was “excluding” men, as I only focused on women’s health. I found this to be a fascinating reaction to receive from people, as I was acutely aware that most women, myself included at times, were experiencing a disproportionate level of overwhelm, burnout and high levels of anxiety related issues compared to men. Women are twice as likely to suffer with anxiety and three times more likely to experience depression than male counterparts. Yet, what I struggled with at the time was having the understanding of why this was happening, which affected how I responded to the challenge. I needed a deeper understanding to explain my drive for this work.
How could so many intelligent, capable, well supported women with high levels of both inner and external resources, be struggling so much with what appeared to be day to day life?! And then I undertook my Moon Mother Training with Miranda Gray, where everything suddenly fell into place! For the first time, I was not having to explain the way that I “see” women. For the first time, women were talking about their wombs in a much deeper way than simply being a baby making machine we can switch on and off as we need. It allowed me to connect the dots with the cyclical way of nature and the cyclical nature of women.
Quite simply women are living in a world that is perfectly aligned to men’s physiology but does not work with a woman’s. Men operate on a 24 hour hormonal cycle, which works in perfect alignment with our 24 hour circadian rhythm. However, women have a second innate time keeper – our infradian rhythm. This is our 28 day cycle that regulates our menstrual cycle but rarely is any attention paid to it, unless trying for a baby or experiencing a medical difficulty.
Alissa Vitti, an international lead on the infradian rhythm, teaches women how vitally important this clock is for women. However, it has largely been ignored by modern medicine and research at large. The implications of this are that women seeking conventional support, when they feel out of balance, receive an intervention which is based on research that has probably been undertaken on men’s linear biology. This becomes problematic, as it does not always work for our fluctuating biology.
In addition, so much of how we feel throughout the month changes, yet our lifestyle pretty remains the “same thing every day” approach. And then we wonder why we do not feel our best, often struggling with depletion and exhaustion.
Why is it some days we want to be snuggled closely with our children and yet others we want to be locked away in a room with no one touching us?!
Women in a patriarchal society
Women are simply being pushed to fit into a lifestyle that goes against their biology. Imagine how it feels to mess with your circadian rhythm for just one day due to jet lag?! Now imagine the impact of ignoring your infradian rhythm month after month, year after year, decade after decade, where we eventually crash land into menopause!
So, once we begin to understand how our biology is fluctuating throughout the month, the next step is to start to track our own cycle, in a way that goes beyond just noting the day. It still surprises me how many women track their sleep, number of steps taken, food intake yet many do not know anything about their cycle – the very thing that makes us female! I have free tracker you can download and it takes less than a minute to complete. I suggest doing this for at least 3 months so you can begin to see your own personal rhythm, which is unique to you. From your appetite, to libido, to choice of clothing, you will begin to see how much influence your cycle has on you and wonder why you were never taught this as a young woman!
Even if you no longer have a womb, may not be bleeding due to breastfeeding or have chosen to use synthetic hormones, you can still connect with your cyclical nature. Instead, women follow the phases of the moon. Just as we have an average of a 28 day cycle (25-35 days is considered “normal), so does the moon (29 days roughly).
This is why, for eons, the moon has been worshipped as representing the Goddess. Day 1 (1 st day of your bleed) would be the new moon and day 14 (ovulation) the full moon. Women who track in this way tend to experience their inner ebb and flow less intensely but still find it an incredible tool to connect with their inner feminine wisdom.
So once you understand your cycle, most women find it useful to break this down into the four phases. As a Moon Mother, I like to refer to these as the four female archetypes of Maiden, Mother, Enchantress and Crone (Wise Woman) to help connect to the different essence of each phase.
- 1st Phase: Follicular/ Maiden/ Waxing Moon/ Spring (the 7 to 10 days after
- 2nd Phase: Ovulatory/ Mother/ Full Moon/ Summer (the to 4 days in the middle
of your cycle)
- 3rd Phase: Luteal/ Enchantress/ Waning Moon/ Autumn (the 10 to 14 days
between ovulation and your period)
- 4th Phase: Menstrual/ Crone/ New Moon/ Winter (the 3 to 7 days of your
By developing a deeper understanding of each phase, we are able to begin to harness the power of each one and use it strategically to manage our lives. When we have been able to properly rest during our Crone phase, we are rocket fuelled with energy during our Maiden phase – this is the time we want to be in action, setting our intentions and making things happen because our energy cup is full!
As we transition to our Mother phase, we feel giving, connected, seeking community and may find ourselves batch cooking for our coming phases when we will have less energy! As we flow into our Enchantress, she is a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde, as we begin on a high but then our hormones decline and we descend into our inner worlds as we head towards our bleed. This is the time to slow down, cancel social plans and carve out time to reflect. Once we transition into our bleed it can feel like a relief, so long as we can honour some time to be still and prepare for our rebirth as our Maiden self again.
By honouring this cycle, we can begin to plan our diary to support us rather than overwhelm us. Warning – do not leave your super woman Maiden self in charge of your diary as your inner Enchantress will not thank her for it! We know what type of food will nourish us, inflammatory response (pain may change throughout the month), immunity, how our sleep will be, what type of movement our body needs, our need and ability to connect, the type of work to do, our cognitive ability and so much more. All of this is influenced by our cycle, but we have ignored it.
Whilst one might picture an image of Julie Andrews waltzing through the hills to the sound of music due to knowing her own flow, the reality is we live in a masculine world of relentless action. There are times we will need to operate at a level that perhaps does not align with our own phase. In these situations, using tools such a breath work and essential oils can be invaluable in supporting you to work through it and I love to coach women how to apply these to support their cycle.
Honour your inner phases
Too often women are “powering through”, pushing against the tide when their body is crying out to be still and rest. We have been taught to silence her whispers and believe we are weak or lazy if we stop. The relentless white noise of our never ending to do list drowns our inner guidance out!
However, when we are able to honour our slower, inner phases we can be rocket fuelled during our external, active phases rather than being in a constant state of depletion. We need to learn to give ourselves permission to rest and reflect. I believe that this understanding of our physiology is key to allowing ourselves to rest – there is nothing wrong with us, it is literally the way we were created.
I truly believe that by understanding our own innate rhythms and harnessing the power of our monthly fluctuations we can use our cycle strategically to balance our moods, feel energised and improve our quality of life. This ripple effect of feeling good improves our family life, communities and ultimately humanity. We can be the new leaders of teaching this to our children and educating the wonderful men in our lives – our fathers, brothers, husbands, partners and sons.
This is not some New Age fad…. this inner knowing had all but disappeared from our culture and I am incredibly passionate about reawakening this innate feminine wisdom. It was simply lost under the weight of living in a patriarchal society but once we become the expert of our own unique cycle, we can be empowered to create a life that aligns to our nature. I believe the movement to reawaken this in women can play a large role in establishing equality and provide healing for womankind.
I am a married mother of two young girls living in South Bucks, where I run my practice Harmonise You. I specialise in women’s health, offering hormone balancing, Menstrual Cycle Awareness and Menstrual Education, (specialising in using breath work and essential oils), women’s circles, retreats and events.