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How to use your menstrual cycle phases to support you when studying....

Over the years, I have coached many students from all walks of life, who are busy working mums, holding down a job and studying at the same time - the topic of their menstrual cycles come up a lot and is something I feel is not addressed enough. It is so important that this is not ignored as just something women have to get on with. This modern fast world does not stop due to those pesky hormones, so I find many students struggle on and on.... however, having the knowledge and being equipped with tools will help hugely when planning and studying. Many women place unrealistic expectations on themselves to get everything done (trust me I have been there myself) despite how they are feeling and this often then leads to burnout, anxiety and sometimes hormonal imbalances which none of us want! Below is just an example of how the phases may effect you.

We are all different and we have our own unique menstrual cycle pattern but being aware of our own pattern can impact us in positive ways. It is not an overnight can take a few months to recognise which phase you are in. You may feel totally different during the phases than I have described below and this is absolutely fine - making a note of it and having an awareness for your own unique cycle is personal to you as we are all unique.

During the 28 day cycle (on average as everyone is different) your hormones are constantly up and down. Throughout the month you may notice that some days you are raring to go and other times you just want to hide and sleep. This is all normal and these natural shifts in moods and energy and concentration throughout the month comes in four different phases, and having awareness of these phases can help. You can actually use these phases to your advantage when planning so you are performing the best way you can at that particular phase and ultimately all month long.

Making sure you plan ahead and start your studying earlier within plenty of time before the exam and not leaving it until the last few months is important. As this alleviates anxiety and keeps you feeling like you are in control.

Phase 1 - The menstrual phase day 1 to 7 (approx - everyone is different)

This is a time where you need to gift yourself some relaxation time. The deadlines will still be there but being a bit kinder to yourself by adding in some extra self care in the form of meditation, yoga, or just reading a book, going out into nature for a walk. Focus on some rest time and making sure you get some sleep. When planning study time, using 15 min solid focused time on important tasks will help focus your mind without feeling overwhelmed. Give yourself a few 15 mins tasks to get done and dusted (this may be mind maps on pages 1-4 from the chapter you are working on- as an example). During this phase, it may be that you diarise to only read the material rather than actively have hours of concentration on dissecting the material. It is important to be realistic during this time or otherwise you can become quite deflated and frustrated with progress. It is good time to reflect on the past month and just be you! After all you are shedding from the month before to then start a new!

So work smarter not harder as energy levels are at their lowest in this phase. Of course you may feel totally fifg

Phase 2 - Follicular phase 7-10 days (approx -everyone is different)

Your moods will be rising as will your motivation and this is the time to make sure this phase is used wisely to make the most of your energy levels. Setting new goals, being creative with your learning time. This does not mean you need to go at it 100%! Careful planning and some good concentrated solid hours will really build the foundation for the month.

Phase 3 - Ovulatory phase Day 14 depending on cycle length - everyone is different

Due to hormones peaking to their highest around this time, your confidence and motivation are all high. This is the phase to take real action and get those tasks and projects done - factor in more solid time to get your studying done. Focus and teach the material and tap into some really good learning methods. Remember there is so much more to learning that just sitting there taking endless notes. I really get my students to be proactive with every part of their material.

Phase 4 - Luteal phase day 15/16 depending on cycle - everyone is different

This is a time where many feel they want to complete the tasks for the month. This is a time where you are turning inwards and focusing on your needs to spend time alone. Self care is important here. Set boundaries and get them in your diary so you do not become frustrated. You may start feeling tired during this phase. Making sure you plan the hours you are studying and then making sure you have a solid self care routine afterwards.

Many of my students are very open about their struggles and need a more bespoke timetable from me that suit their menstrual cycle ups and downs. Making one or two small changes throughput the month will really help. Only you know your cycle and you may be full of energy at certain times of the month when others are not - we are all individual and the above is just an example of how the phases may make you feel.

Whatever your cycle - planning the study time that works with your cycle not against it can be so beneficial and most of it is important to be realistic - this is another important reason why starting your studying early rather than a few months before the exam can really help you feel more organised and in turn more energised!

For help and one to one support please do feel free to contact me confidentially.

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