Menstruation in Business: Why Come Out and Take Advantage of It (Part 1)

text © 2018 Dana-Sofie Šlancarová, / photo ©

If you are a woman, you know it so well...

If you are a woman, you know it so well. This is the day when you wake up in the morning with the strong feeling that you neither want to see anyone nor do you want to do anything but stay in bed, ideally for the rest of the day. Both your body and your soul desperately advocate for a day off. And in case you aren’t willing to understand that, the body prompts you with slight or strong cramps, or with a backache, or a headache. Do you truly need a clearer signal that you really should switch off?

But let’s face reality… You should have sent that report to your colleague three days ago. Another one is due tomorrow. There are 42 new messages in your inbox, and none of them is junk or spam. There are two important meetings today that you definitely cannot miss. And after picking your kids from school, you can’t forget to do the shopping and go to the vet with your dog. Your husband is grumbling and mumbling something about living with a hysteric again. And what’s more, your hairdresser just canceled your tomorrow’s appointment because she’s just having her period.

Whether we want it or not, the world where most of us (women) find ourselves living and working these days is a world running according to masculine rules. Delivering results as well as being linearly stable and constant in our performance is considered a norm and sort of required.

But there is a snag in it. Both for women and men. Because:

We women are neither linear nor constant, and when we are forced to function in this way, our performance efficiency, state of health and overall well-being gradually decline. Why?

Because we obtained from Mother Nature a womb, a menstrual (hormonal) cycle, and the ability to give birth, and this fact has its consequences on many levels, not only the physical – most apparent – one.

We tend to think that the consequences of being born female are expressed merely by menstrual bleeding once a month, or by some more or less unpleasant symptoms called premenstrual syndrome. The real truth is that our hormones do not stop for half a month only to show up again just before the bleeding. The hormones are with us for the whole month, every day, every hour and every minute. This is both the good news and… the good news:

This means that the changes taking place within us are predictable because they happen regularly – once a month, or better to say, once per menstrual cycle (whatever its length may be). The changes of our moods, our energy levels, our mental performance, abilities and skills, or tastes for food or sex, all this comes in patterns and in time periods that are predictable and stable. Once per menstrual cycle…

Some claim that women are incapable and unstable for a week or two. In reality, women are capable and stable every week of the month, only in a different way each week. What makes them inefficient, overwhelmed, tired and grumpy is when they try to exercise the masculine way: being linear and all the same all the time.

Miranda Gray

This particular fact was also noticed some twenty years ago by an English illustrator Miranda Gray when she was trying to figure out why the publisher she worked for loved her illustrations for two weeks in a month but returned them for redrawing during the other two weeks. For two weeks a month she was able to precisely draw the minuscule details of beetles or whatever was needed but the next two weeks her illustrations became suddenly and unexpectedly much more abstract and the publisher naturally didn’t like that.

Based on her observations, Miranda wrote a book called Red Moon, and later on another one entitled The Optimized Woman. In her books, Miranda explains that our menstrual (hormonal) cycle can be divided into four phases:

  • According to its main characteristic feature, she calls the first phase the dynamic phase, or, from the biological point of view, pre-ovulation phase. It is the phase that comes after menstruation and its prevailing hormones fill us with enthusiasm and the dynamic desire for starting new things, being active, traveling the world, being fast and efficient, and focusing on work.
  • In the second phase, named expressive (or ovulation) phase, however, our main focus is no longer on working and being fast but on being rather passive and spending a lot of time with people: listening to them, talking to them, and caring for them and their needs. Our top skills are communication and empathy. Not surprisingly, our sexual appetite is also growing stronger in this phase (which makes perfect sense since the ripe egg has been released from the ovary and – traveling down the fallopian tube – it wants to be fertilized).
  • In the third, creative or pre-menstrual phase, many of us suffer from some of the symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome (cramps, migraines, mood changes, food craving, bloating etc.). People around us may consider us intolerable – and we have the same feeling… Nevertheless, once you find the advantages of this phase, you no longer long for it to disappear from your life! (So keep reading!)
  • The fourth phase, reflective or menstrual, can be described just as above – we feel the urge to withdraw from the world and hide away in seclusion, not being available for anyone or anything, just meditating, creating in silence and – mainly and especially – relaxing. Relaxation and taking a true break is the most important activity we shall pursue in the menstrual phase because only thus we can regain our energy and go through the new cycle ahead in full physical, mental and emotional strength.
Women in the dynamic phase are fast and efficient

Dynamic phase is usually our most favorite time, and also the time most appreciated by others – we are efficient, we think logically, analytically and rationally, and we love to spend time working. Our brains work similarly to those of men, so it’s easy for us to communicate with them and to come to an understanding. We also love our physical strength as well as our mental and emotional stability. This is the phase our society values most since we fit well in the cogwheels of the linear business process. However, there is more to our cycle, and all its parts have their immeasurable value (so keep on reading!).

Expressive (ovulation) phase feels pleasant too, as we still have enough energy and we are in the very best mood of our cycle – always optimistic, happy and excited. We feel drawn to people and we are equipped with immense communication skills, such as empathy, listening skills and persuasion abilities. Looking for a win-win solution is the motto of our ovulation days. People love us, too, and are attracted by our charismatic and radiant personalities (by the way, guess in which phase the waitresses get the biggest tips!).

With the creative (premenstrual) phase approaching, both physical and mental instability creeps in, as well as a hell of a criticism towards ourselves and others, and feelings of overwhelm, frustration and depression. Why? Because we tend to confuse this phase with the dynamic one. These two phases are similar in our desire and ability to focus on work and action, however, while in the dynamic phase our energy and physical strength grow, in the premenstrual phase they decline. But note: this phase has even more benefits than it has disadvantages, though they may go underestimated or overlooked: We are focused. We have a strong desire to finish and complete things and projects. We work systematically. We are immensely creative. We get great ideas coming to us out of nowhere. We are incredibly and powerfully intuitive. We can see under the surface of things and we know what is wrong… Learning how to consciously utilize all these enhanced premenstrual abilities makes you literally invincible!

Charge yourself as regularly as you charge your mobile phone!

The deepest physical and mental downturn comes with the menstrual phase. We tend to dislike it since we are feeling tired and useless, but consider this comparison: As during the course of a day we have a time for relaxation and recovery, which is the night time, during our monthly cycle we also have a time for recharging our batteries, and it’s the menstrual phase. You do not usually stay up whole night so that you’d feel full of energy the next day, do you? You sleep and relax. Think of the menstrual phase in the same way and do not work hard and take enough time to rest so you have enough energy for the next cycle. Menstrual phase is also the season of deepest insights and spontaneous meditation-like state (however, bear this fact in mind when parking!:-).

So, your hairdresser is right when she cancels all appointments for a day or two or three and stays at home on her couch, wrapped in blankets, with a mug of herbal tea and a sign on the door: “Do not disturb! Kids and husband not allowed! Mum’s menstruating and gathering energy for the upcoming month.”

Of course, you may object that taking three days off is not something your employer or your business would allow you to do. However, in the second part of this article, we’ll examine how you can go round all the imaginary obstacles you and your surroundings set to yourself, and how you can find ways of respecting your cyclic nature and utilizing your enhanced cyclic skills and abilities even at your workplace.

PS: What have men to do with women’s cycles? Everything! Since they live or work with us, they are influenced by our hormonal changes at all times (and not only negatively in the premenstrual and menstrual phases), and therefore they should know the highlights and drawbacks of our phases as much as we do to live and co-work happily with us ever after!

Dana-Sofie ŠlancarováDana-Sofie Šlancarová is a translator, writer, teacher, and entrepreneur. Her passion is to write and teach about the beauty of women’s cycles, pragmatic aspects of menstruation, and the incredible benefits of cyclic time management®.

She is the founder of the Cyklická žena® (The Cyclic Woman) project and an author of several books on this topic, including Návod na ženy (A Manual to Women: Navigating the Modern Man Through the Unpredictable World of Women, still only in Czech) that she co-wrote with Erik Hutter.




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