Monthly Rest during menstruation increases wellbeing and alleviates cramps

In our current societal model, we live in a linear fashion – working from 9-5, no matter what our inherent biology or the ecological seasons are going through.

But living in a linear way is asking too much of our bodies, which are not designed for this. This is especially the case for menstruating women.

An interesting study from the Netherlands, which questioned 750 young women and 900 adult women, shows the need for a more cyclical lifestyle very clearly. 

Biggest takeaways from the study

During the days that the women were menstruating, women report having 53% of their energy. With young women, it’s 46%. This is about half of the energy that their body and emotional capacity have to perform all the same tasks, at the same speed/intensity.

90% of these women indicate that they desire more rest during the menstrual days. However, 39% are aware of their desire but choose to carry on as usual, 41% use pain medication to be able to carry on as usual, and only 20% decide to take it more slowly during their bleeding.

Conclusion: 90% of the women desire more rest and space. 80% of the women carry on like nothing is happening. 20% of the women listen to their body and take it more slowly.

The women who belong to the 20% that take it more slowly experience less pain during menstruation.

Does this mean that you need to feel guilty if you can’t take a monthly break from your full-time job, taking care of the kids, or something else that happens in your life?

No, of course not. Most women feel compelled to carry on as usual and receive little to no support from societal structures to live in a cyclical approach.

I see this clearly in my practice with my clients and in my personal life as a woman. Women receive almost no understanding of the cyclical nature of our body. We are living in a system that requires us to keep going as usual, and people do make us feel guilty or lazy if we choose to prioritise rest for those 3-7 days because of a lack of in-depth understanding of the biological blueprint of our species. Even doctors mostly prescribe painkillers or the pill to the few women who bring this issue to their healthcare givers. (The majority of women still choose to suffer in silence…)

So I want to take a moment here to let you know that if you are trying to live in a cyclical approach – listening to your body and desire for a monthly rest period but don’t manage to actually implement it – that you have my greatest empathy. It’s a hard choice that you need to make because you are not only learning a new lifestyle for yourself, you also have to educate everyone around you – even the professionals -, and let’s face it, not everyone wants to be that loud-mouthed pioneer. Especially when you are in physical pain and have about half of your energy left…

So what can you do to implement more rest during your menstruation?

  • Don’t expect yourself to be perfect, but try to take things more slowly wherever you can:
  • Can’t take a monthly work-leave? Prepare some food you only need to defrost when you get home, so that you don’t need to do anything after work.
  • Is your physical pain so terrible? Don’t take a painkiller, but go to the doctor and ask for a sick leave. And if they try to force the pill on you, breathe, and stay grounded in your inner knowing. You, not them, are the boss of your body. 
  • Is your house a mess? Don’t stress about cleaning it for the heaviest days of your period. Or ask/pay someone else to do it.
  • Avoid difficult conversations with your partner or colleague.

Making small changes to harmonise yourself with the natural rhythms of your body will have a major and fast effect on your personal well-being and are a pivoting force that may turn this wheel of endless growth around, back into the natural cyclical rhythms of nature.