Tucked away in a tiny cabin in Prescott, AZ, I unfurled a three-foot-long 12-month moon calendar and carefully pinned the corners to the side of my closet door. The year was 1995, and I was overcome with feelings of fascination, curiosity, and shyness. Only 20 years old at the time, I had never formally tracked my menstrual cycle. In fact, the idea and possibility had never occurred or been suggested to me. During a three-week backpacking trip through the canyons of Arizona, while sleeping under the stars, I had noticed a symmetry with my cycle to that of the moon’s waxing and waning.
On a whim, I decided to track my cycle by coloring in the moons on the moon calendar inside the closet door, curious about what I may discover. Thus began years of my own moon tracking, eventually including other components, such as my daily food, water, sleep, exercise, and mood. I was led by inquiry – Was my cycle influencing my self care, my food choices, my spirit, my creativity and intimacy? Or was the reverse true? Over the ensuing months, seasons, and years, I noticed clear patterns emerge, allowing me to use my cycle and self-care as indicators to my wellbeing and health.
Like so many of our clients, we find that tracking our cycle, our daily self-care and moods, can lead to a deepened sense of self-compassion and understanding. Why would simply tracking these components support our mental and physical health? How does moon and mood tracking work?
Cultivating Self Awareness:
In our therapy practice, after daily mood tracking for two to three months, clients often share insights, such as the impact on mood following more or less sleep; interesting correlations between exercise and sleep or exercise and mood; awareness around changes in anxiety through the month or times when they feel more creative or more desirous of alone time. This is powerful stuff!
“Intentionally tracking your cycle can help you learn whether and when you’re ovulating, determine whether symptoms like pelvic pain, low sex drive, acne, sleep, migraines, digestive, or other symptoms are cyclic and therefore likely hormonally related, and can help you have more control over your reproductive and gynecologic health in general. It can help you to know when the best time is to conceive – or avoid pregnancy – depending on your goals right now, and help you recognize when you’re entering peri-menopause or menopause.”Aviva Romm, Midwife, Herbalist and Women’s Health Expert
So how do you start tracking your cycles?
As with all Mobile Mama strategies, motherhood requires simplicity and tracking is no exception. Countless apps have been designed to help track our cycles and record notes about self care. Apps work for some folks, so if that feels like an accessible way for you to keep notes of your menstruation, ovulation, and the details in between, that is one option. Note that many of the apps are based on a 28-day cycle, so if your cycle is a bit shorter or longer (true for about 20% of women), the apps may not be exact.
For many folks, tracking manually (with paper and pen) is a great way to note the subtle details of your daily rhythm and monthly cycle, providing the ability to see — at a glance — the patterns of your mental and physical health. Whatever tool you choose, the important part is to glean the info and use it to support you. So where do we start?
After years of working with clients and recognizing the usefulness of tracking, we have designed easy, simple ways for daily tracking that maximize self-care.
If you are menstruating, or if you are awaiting the return of your period after pregnancy and/or lactation, it is great to start with a moon tracker. To this end, we have created the 2022 Mobile Mama Moon Tracker as a unique and lovely tool. Simply color in the moons of the day/month when you menstruate. If you want, you can also color in the moons of ovulation. After a few months, you will easily see your patterns emerge. As this happens, take some time to notice how you feel not only during menstruation and ovulation, but in the Luteal phase (between ovulation to menstruation) and the Follicular Phase (from menstruation to ovulation). Aviva Romm provides wonderful info on the phases of your cycle he
Tracking Daily Self-Care Through the Month:
Your moon cycle is a key part to your physiological experience throughout the month, as it influences the other essential parts of your self-care. Additionally, it is fascinating and useful to track those components as well and notice how they influence your mental and physical health. When you track your cycle with key elements of self-care, what do you notice? To do this, we created the 2022 Mobile Mama 12-Month Tracker.
The Tracker takes just a few minutes a day to note your daily food, water, sleep, exercise, and support, as well as offering a simple way to indicate your mood and where you are in your cycle. Tracking provides a treasure trove of useful information each month, allowing you to see and learn from the interactions and patterns of all of these parts. Upon reflection, you may notice the Tracker shows you feel more creative after you start your period, so you may choose to make space for that in the upcoming months. Perhaps the Tracker highlights your need for extra quiet time leading up to your period, or a feeling of playfulness during ovulation, or you may desire different types of exercise or social interaction at specific times of the month.
The interplay between our hormones throughout the month and our self-care is paramount in our understanding of our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
The Trackers provide us with the opportunity to capture this information and truly discover our patterns so we can identify ways to move with and support our wellbeing.
So, as this New Year approaches, grab the calendar off the wall, download an app, and/or check out the Mobile Mama Trackers — get ready to start tracking and enjoy discovering! And, once your unique tracking journey is underway, please share your insights — we love to hear about and learn from your experiences!