Most women report feeling the most tired during their period and the days leading up to it. As a self-employed women entrepreneur who mentors other women entrepeneurs, yoga teachers and creatives, taking a menstrual break is the number 1 thing I recommend for better productivity, creativity and career success, not to mention better mental, physical and emotional well-being!
In this post you’ll discover what menstrual leave is, how it differs from menstrual breaks, how menstrual breaks can benefit you, and how to take your own menstrual break to boost your creativity and productivity and well-being.
What is Menstrual Leave?
Period leave, or Menstrual Leave is a workplace policy that gives people time off while on their period. A workplace may provide this leave in addition to standard sick leave. Though still uncommon, some countries including Spain, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Zambia and South Korea are among the first pioneers to allow menstrual leave.
It is believed that period leave is reserved for worst case scenarios, for example, if one is in such pain or discomfort that one cannot work. There often isn’t a set definition or set number of days a person can take off. If you work full or even part-time for your employer, chances are that they aren’t the most understanding about your discomforts during menstruation, and even less likely to understand or approve your request for period leave, if it’s not already a company-wide policy.
What about Menstrual Breaks? Why should I take a break during my period?
A menstrual break, on the other hand, is a form of a pause, or rest from work or during an activity or event that you can take because of menstruation. For me it is a form a break from my regular routine during the phase of my 27-28 day menstrual cycle, that is absolutely necessary.
Within the four seasons of your menstrual cycle, Menstruation is the period of Winter. It also corresponds to the New Moon within the Moon cycle, and during a 24 hour clock, the period of Midnight to before Dawn. If we take a cue from nature, this is the time of the void, pause, hibernation, recharging and renewal.
According to Chinese Medicine, this period is the most Yin, where your uterus is clearing and shedding the old lining. In Western Medicine, this is when hormone levels of progesterone and estrogen are the lowest, especially during the initial days of menstruation. This a cue for us to rest, restore and recharge.
What are the benefits of taking a Menstrual Break?
Taking Menstrual Breaks can help you:
- Feel less tired – sufficient rest and reduce experience of Period Fatigue
- Reduce experience of painful periods – painful periods can be exacerbated by fatigue and stress. If you’re well-rested, you’re less likely to feel stressed, tired and as a result less likely to experience period pain.
- Get back to your regular routine and energy levels faster
How can I take a Menstrual Break?
What your menstrual break will look like may differ a lot from mine. This will depend a lot on whether:
- You work full-time or part-time
- You are employed by someone else, or self-employed
- You have any other time constraints e.g. caring for kids, an elder, and need to account for their schedules
For me, I define my menstrual break as the period when I let myself and the others around me (my family, friends) know that I am taking a break from my usual routine. During this time I let myself:
- Freely ask for and receive help from others, especially trusted friends and family
- Take a rest, a break from work and routine tasks, responsibilities especially if I feel fatigued, overwhelmed
- Be less social with others, or even avoid social gatherings
- Adjust my physical activity and diet based on my needs i.e. nourishing soups, gentle, slow movement
Consider what is possible, acceptable and feels right to you at this time.
When should I take my Menstrual Break?
It might seem obvious to take the menstrual break DURING menstruation, but actually this might not be the best approach. After trial and error, I have found that the time I most need my Menstrual Break is the 3 days before my period i.e. the last 2-3 days of my PMS/Luteal phase, and the first 2-3 days of my period. This is why I call it the 3+3.
For you, this could be different. I know some women who need just half a day, or a day off during the first day of their bleed, and others who need an entire week away by themselves.
I recommend you to try these 5 steps to uncover when best to take your menstrual break:
- Start tracking your menstrual cycle. Need help? Scroll down to download your Free Menstrual Cycle tracking Journal and Guide.
- Track your moods, energy levels and any other information you notice each day.
- Notice which days you feel most tired / need rest the most. This could be a 10 min lie-down break, or maybe even an entire weekend off away by yourself. It will differ for everyone.
- Intentionally set aside time for those days in your upcoming cycle to rest.
- Reflect back and notice what shifted. Did it improve your energy levels, focus and creativity in the upcoming cycle?
Then keep repeating steps 1-5 until you find what works for you! For me, ultimately I settled on allowing myself to take as much rest as necessary the 3 days before (PMS/luteal phase) and first 3 days during my period.
Taking a Menstrual Break from your Yoga / Physical / Fitness routine
Another gamechanger for me has been adjusting my physical activity / Yoga practice based on my menstrual cycle. When you adjust your routine accordingly, you recover faster and improve your performance and well-being overall.
Want to find out more about how to adapt your Yoga practice according to the menstrual Cycle?
Check our my Menstrual Yoga Qigong Program. You’ll learn how to adjust and align your Yoga practice based on your infradian rhythm so you can alleviate PMS cramps, mood swings, insomnia and period pain, fatigue, and frustration.
Are you looking for support to manage overwhelm at work during your menstrual cycle?
Through coaching with me, we identify the triggers underlying situations causing your experience of overwhelm. You’ll learn effective and simple tools to dissolve overwhelm, and long-term strategies including taking menstrual breaks and aligning your physical and mental workload according to your cycle to preventing overwhelm.
Do you know someone who needs to take a menstrual break? Share this with them.
Do you take Menstrual breaks? What are your menstrual breaks like?