Marketing with your Menstrual Cycle
Have you ever taken into account the timings of your monthly cycle when planning your business or deciding when to launch your next programme?
It’s not a common question I ask my female clients, that’s for sure. But as I go about planning my next 90 days, I find I’m checking my monthly cycle calendar more and more as I tune into my ebb and flow of emotions, creativity and stuckness. And as the response to my article about my 7 Rules for perimenopausal women running their own business was so well received, I decided I needed to dive into this topic of periods and menstrual cycles.
Whether you’re a regular 28 day-er like me or have your own unique pattern, if you’ve ever tracked your cycle, you’ll know there is an ebb and flow to your energies. I first started to be aware of the exact dates of my own cycle when my husband and I decided to start a family (ahhhh those heady days of taking one’s temperature to confirm ovulation days!). But it wasn’t until my adrenaline ran out and my system crashed back in 2012 when I started seriously researching my peri-menopausal symptoms and I began to log my monthly cycles again.
Tracking my emotional and physical changes each week and month helped me make sense of what was going on inside of me; the feeling of being out of control one week, focused and in flow the next, often followed by a serious energy crash, irrational mood swings and my inner critic shouting down any great ideas I had for my business.
In my experience, knowing where I’ve been at in my cycle at any given point in my working week has helped me enormously over the past few years to deal with things that haven’t gone according to plan … as well as helping me realise I wasn’t going mad; I’m just being a woman!
You may or may not be aware, but there are 4 distinct stages to your cycle; each one having changes on your energy, emotions and physicality.
Phase 1: Menstruation
Day 1 of your cycle is the first day of bleeding. I’ve often found that I have a huge sense of relief on this day, followed by a few days of general yuckiness, bloating and tiredness that has seemed to got worse as I’ve got older. It feels as if my body finds it tougher each month to kick start the engine as I get closer to menopause each year.
Day 2 or 3 is often a day I could quite happily stay in bed all day, but although walking and getting out and about brings relief, it’s always important for me to lower my pace and keep rested. I’ve learnt from experience to go full pelt during these days will only have a knock-on effect of being knackered for weeks or even pick up a bug and get ill.
Phase 2: Follicular
This phase is usually days 7 to 10 of your cycle and it’s when your estrogen and testosterone levels start to climb, getting you ready for ovulation. I used to feel wonderful during this time but as my peri-menopausal symptoms kicked in, the lack of estrogen has made this week tough for me at times. It’s when I’ve been the most frustrated; I’ve been used to surging ahead with plans and action taking with my brain going full steam but my body not being able to respond.
Fortunately, I feel on an even keel right now because of my combination of mineral and vitamin supplements, and this time has once again become a wonderfully productive time.
Phase 3: Ovulatory
Lasting only a couple of days, your body produces your egg and you may often feel incredibly powerful, able to take on the world and say yes to everything. It’s Mother Nature’s way of making you attractive to the opposite sex and ready to mate, of course. But this can be a fabulous time to run an event, negotiate with a new contract or even pick up the phone to prospect you’ve been putting off for an age.
Phase 4: Luteral
Typically lasting 12 to 16 days, this is the remainder of your cycle. Estrogen and testosterone decline and progesterone, the heat-inducing hormone, kicks in, preparing your body for potential pregnancy. It’s often the time you feel the most tired because Mother Nature is assuming you need to rest and nest.
I’ve found in recent years that the immediate couple of days post ovulation is knackering for me; my body feeling that little bit more worn out as each year passes, doing it’s job of producing that egg. And it’s often a good time to brain dump to-do lists, clear up clutter and re-align yourself before taking action on any new projects or ideas.
And of course, PMS starts to kick in towards the end of the last stage; from chronic back pain and stiff joints to raging anger and mood swings, this can be a particularly stressful time to think straight or do projects such as the end of month accounting!
Of course, every woman’s monthly cycle is unique to her. You have your own symptoms and experiences and yes, some months go better than others.
But I’ve found that the more aware I am of my menstrual cycle, the more effective I can be in my business. And this is what I wanted to share with you today.
1. Stop beating yourself up
You can stop beating yourself up when you get frustrated something’s not working. It’s not about making excuses but awareness of how your body is responding to which hormones you are producing, can give you clarity on why you may be screaming at your laptop for deleting your file (because, quite obviously, it had nothing to do you!).
2. Give yourself a break when you need it
You can give yourself a break when your body needs it most and plan to deliver your best work when you are at your best. Planning a 2 day event in the fourth week of your cycle is probably not the best time if you’re contending with stomach cramps and irritability. But if you have control over your booking dates, choosing days in your follicular weeks could give yourself the chance to rock your best work.
3. Stop taking yourself so seriously.
Nothing … and I mean NOTHING … is more irritating than someone (AKA your husband) asking you if you’re PMSing … when you are PMSing. But I head this off at the pass now because when I get that first sign of irritability, I’m off to check my period tracker on my iPhone, and I tell my husband that I’m on the way. I find that I can laugh about it if I’m the one to bring it up first … funny how that happens!!
4. Take days off when you need them.
Running your own business gives you the enormous benefit of being in control of your diary. In corporate life, taking a sick day for bad period pains can be tough to negotiate, especially if it’s regular as clockwork and it’s the same day of every month. Plus trying to explain in a board meeting why your brain fog is so thick, you have no idea why your sales figures are down this month, may not go down terribly well.
So as your own boss, don’t make it more difficult for you or your team members that it needs to be. If you have particular bad PMS or find it tough on other days of your cycle, factor those days into your working calendar. Your body and brain will thank you for it when you come to your productive days and you can turn up the energy dial.
5. Get braver on your brave days.
If you know you’re raring to go during your follicular week, then add this time of your cycle in your diary. Plan your sales days during this time. Or your business planning or creation of a new programme. Let Mother Nature help capitalise on these days and help you do your best work.
What do I hope you take from sharing this with you?
If you don’t already, I hope that you start to track your cycle. It can be as simple as writing in a journal or if you prefer a piece of tech, then there are plenty of period trackers apps you can get for your phone (you get the added benefit of the apps automatically calculating your future due dates based on your cycle dates).
Self awareness is powerful; gathering evidence rather than assuming what’s going on can give you specific patterns to look out for and help you plan your marketing WITH your menstrual cycle rather than run your business against your natural ebb and flow.
For those of you who already track your cycle, I’d love to know what you do already in your business and marketing plans to take into account where you are at during the weeks.
Let me know your thoughts. Do you plan your business around your dates already? Or has this article made you think about how you could?
I’d especially love to know whether you lead a team and manage your team around their cycles, too. I appreciate it’s not a topic that’s talked about that often but as we grow into a more feminine world and more female leaders rise to the top, I know this is a topic that will continue to expand and help develop our businesses, too.