Holistic Wellness: Decode & Enjoy Your Cycle

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⟡ A Note From the Founder: How To Not Be Shark Bait On Your Period

By the end of college, I was labeling myself an ‘environmentalist’, studying ways to ‘feed the word sustainably’. At this point I would frown at people who walked around with plastic bags, bottles and disposable coffee cups. Eager to do something novel, my classmates and I devised an expedition to combine our love of water-sports with environmental action. At the time, research on the impact of plastic pollution in the ocean was just starting to gain media attention — so we decided to pick that as our topic.

In June 2014, just after graduating, we embarked on Stand-Up-Paddleboards (SUPs) to circumnavigate Bermuda and film an adventure documentary, showcasing the juxtaposition of amazing marine life and plastic pollution in the Sargasso Sea.

 Connecting The Dots: Plastic Pollution & Menstrual Products

If we were going to film a documentary we had to reconsider disposable items that are quite handy on trips in the wilderness: single-serve coffee, larger water, pour-over backpacking food... the guys took charge of all that, and I was in charge of first aid-and personal care/cosmetics. I looked at the calendar and I was scheduled to get my period. I’d never really considered the waste generated from menstrual products before but I was about to be the first woman to paddle around an entire country, unsupported, to raise awareness about plastic pollution.

Onboard a SUP with extremely limited space, I had no desire to hold onto used tampons for an undetermined number of days. 

So I considered my options — reusable pads or menstrual cups. The first option seemed extremely impractical : I could either (1) shove the reusable pads in a plastic bag, lug them all the way around an island with hot, moist conditions and wait to wash them upon my arrival. Or (2) wash them in the ocean and attract sharks. NO thank you.

Hassle- free period on expedition 

Our expedition involved diving, filming and spending all day out at sea on a tiny vessel with a strong likelihood of falling in (yes I did have my reservations about being in the Bermuda triangle!) so I needed something other than pads. 

In the end I resorted to a menstrual cup - easy to pour out on land, cleanable with some paper towels, and an option that required little water to wash with soap and rinse out.

My favorite menstrual cup brand

There are tons of menstrual cup brands out there, and I've tried a number of them - as an 'ocean ambassador' I was gifted a few different brands to try. But I've found myself using the first brand I found: Diva Cup. Downside: they're stiffer and harder to insert BUT this means they stay in place. I've found other, more malleable silicone cups tend to slip around and get out of position, therefore causing leaks. When you're land-bound that can be annoying but fine. When you're in the ocean , you can't have a leaky cup and attract 'men in gray suits'. As a 'water-woman', cups are my favorite option.

2 alternatives to menstrual cups: 

If you prefer to stick to activities on land or don't like the idea of a menstrual cup I recommend:

Reusable pads — find them locally to you, or support a small Etsy seller

Organic cotton period underwear — Thinx or Sustain. 

I recommend cotton for these two items because (1) cotton is more breathable than synthetics and is less likely to harbor bacteria (2) cotton doesn't leach plastic microfibers

Check out more zero waste tips for the empowered woman, here.

⟡ Our content creator Robyn*: on understanding the 4 phases of your cycle. 

Think of these 4 cycles as your own inner moon cycle! And let this be a gentle and flexible guide about how you operate during each of those 4 phases.

⟡ Menstrual Phase // New Moon

This is an introverted and reflective phase. If you're torn between a night out with friends, or staying in, it's a natural time to choose the latter. Hormones are at their all time low here, likely leaving you a bit less energized. Don’t overwork yourself. Instead focus your work efforts on reflecting on what worked or didn't work the past month, or casually brainstorming for the month ahead. This is the Fertile Void Phase.

⟡ Follicular Phase // Waxing Moon

As your hormones increase, you are likely feeling more energized and ready to be productive. A great time to kick back into gear and move forward with the more complex goals and tasks. New ideas and an urge to collaborate with others may come naturally. This is the Emergence Phase.

⟡ Ovulation Phase // Full Moon

In this phase, you are most attuned to the details of your body - making it a great time to focus on the details in your work and home life. You may feel extroverted here, with enhanced communication skills. This is your prime time to hit send, hit the publish button and get yourself out there. This is the Visibility Phase

⟡ Luteal Phase // Waning Moon

Hormones start out high, but they begin to wane as you get nearer to menstruation. Energy is likely steady, though on a decline. Still a good phase to cross things off your to-do list - maybe the more low lying admin type tasks that don’t require too much energy. This is the Culmination Phase

-> Check out Kate Northrup to dive way deep into how to attune your cycle with your daily life.

During my period - I go extra easy on myself.

Living in a culture that rewards overworking and obsessed with productivity, it can be so hard to press pause or slow down during this phase. Going easy on myself doesn’t mean I lie in bed for 4 days straight while I bleed. Nope - here are some examples of going easy on myself:

⟡ Prioritize rest

This might mean skipping your workout to sleep in or take a nap. I was once told that this is extra important on Day 1 of your cycle. Resting more on this day can set up your whole month ahead with ease. 

⟡ Make your favorite meal

You're losing blood and nutrients. Feed yourself something that makes you feel good!

⟡ Sneak in some extra self care.

Read a book, take a bath, make a cup of tea, and definitely do all this while wearing the Kelp Forest Face Mask and Polish! Choose this over working late. (Coming from someone who constantly feels the need to be cleaning and organizing my house, this is a big one for me.)

Don’t be shy of your period blood. 

I really think that being grossed out by our own bodies does us a big disservice. I’ve opted for cloth pads for the past few years for a few reasons. One unexpected benefit is that I really know my period blood and flow much more intimately. 

Periods do not need to be painful and uncomfortable. 

I can’t stress this enough. So many women think intense cramps and wild PMS are just a part of being a woman. The cyclical nature of our bodies is a defining part of womanhood - not pain and discomfort!  Talk with your friends, or reach out to a holistic health practitioner to see if you can make your cycle more easeful. 

⟡ DeLune - A Menstrual Health Company 

Makes herbal plant support products. I love their mission and personally can’t wait to try out their products. I have heard great things about their Cramp Aid.

⟡ Acupuncture

Yep - I am a huge acupuncture fan and have had incredible results with using it as both preventative health and to treat specific issues. Find out how a single acupuncture treatment brought my period back after a year of no bleeding in this blog post.

⟡  Herbal Medicine and Menstruation

For the last 8 years or so, I have taken every possible opportunity to learn more about herbal medicine. Feeling empowered with my own healthcare, and connecting to plants has been one of my favorite hobbies. So of course, I have to mention my favorite herbs for a healthy cycle and hormonal balance. Look into them and discuss with your health practitioner if any could be helpful for you.

⟡ Rose  (Rosa spp.)

Beyond the wonderfully relaxing and calming benefits for your mood, rose has been proven to calm cramps as well.

⟡ Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus)

A uterine tonic that strengthens the cells in your uterine lining. 

⟡ Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Known to regulate your flow, whether you are experiencing excessive bleeding, or scant or delayed blood flow.

⟡ Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus)

Helps your body to absorb iron. Look into this herb and speak with your doctor about it if you are anemic.

⟡ Chaste Tree Berries (Vitex agnus-castus)

Considered a general hormone balancer.

⟡ Cramp Bark (Viburnum opulus)

A well known antispasmodic.

 Want more holistic wellness tips?

Grab our FREE guide on immune health.

*Robyn is the Digital Marketing & Content Creator for Anato. With a background in anthropology, sustainability studies, and herbal medicine, she has found her passion in holistic, nature based health. Knowing its a two-way street - she is a big advocate for clean beauty from the inside out, and from the outside in. 

***This is not meant to be health advice, and please always check in with your doctor before starting an herbal protocol - especially if pregnant, nursing, or on other medications.

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