How to Survive Your Luteal Phase

The two weeks before your period suck. Mood swings, anxiety, low energy, bloating, and trouble sleeping is a recurring cycle for many people with ovaries, AKA the luteal phase. These symptoms can be difficult to deal with, and for those with hormone conditions, it can interfere with day-to-day life. While awakening to this thing called the luteal phase can be a bummer, there’s a lot you can do to make your bad days better.

Let’s dive in with what the luteal phase is, why it makes you feel these symptoms, and give you a few hormone hacks for each symptom you may face.

What Is the Luteal Phase? 

The ovarian hormone cycle has two phases: follicular (first half) and luteal (second half). 

The second half of your cycle, the luteal phase, begins after ovulation and ends the day before your next period starts. Symptoms often arise when progesterone drops off in the second part of your luteal phase, the week before your period. Get a more in-depth look into the ovarian hormone cycle here.

Here are 3 hormone hacks to navigate each symptom: mood swings, anxiety, low energy, bloating, and trouble sleeping.

How Do I Help My Mood Swings?

1. Remind yourself: it’s not you, it’s your hormones

Thanks to our hormones (specifically during the luteal phase), we don’t feel like ourselves.  It can be overwhelming and confusing to feel this way when you just felt invincible a week ago. Understanding why you’re suddenly dealing with mood swings and other symptoms is validating. Tracking your cycle is the first doctor-recommended step to understanding your body and identifying potential hormone conditions.

Pro tip: log your mood, energy levels, and body symptoms throughout all phases of your cycle. Doing this will help you see personal patterns in how you feel, allowing you to predict and plan around when you’ll have specific symptoms.

2. Let Yourself Cry

Sometimes, you just need a good cry. Bump your saddest songs in an everything shower or long car drive. Check out our luteal playlist by the Aavia community, built for days when you need a soundtrack to match your luteal lows. 

3. Follow these journal prompts

When dealing with the big luteal emotions, journaling can be a powerful tool to process and release how you’re feeling. In a study looking at brain function and emotional processing throughout the ovarian hormone cycle, it was found that stress is experienced more intensely in the late luteal phase. This is a perfect opportunity to write down what is stressful in your life and evaluate the reality of the situation with some prompts: 

  • “How will this affect me in one month?”
  • “If the worst-case scenario happens, what would it look like?”
  • “If the best-case scenario happens, what would it look like?”
  • “What are the next steps I can take to deal with this?”

How Can I Reduce My Anxiety?

1. Deep Breathing Exercises

Dr. Andrew Huberman shares that the best way to reduce stress through breathing is with two inhales through the nose. On the first inhale, fill your lungs up completely and breathe in as much as you can. Next, do one quick, sharp inhale to expand your lungs to their entirety. Follow this with a long exhale. Repeat this breathing pattern to calm the nervous system.

2. Go for a Phone-Free Mental Health Walk

We’re constantly bombarded by technology, school, and work. The luteal phase is a time when these things may feel extra overwhelming. Whether it’s 10 minutes or an hour, create intentional time for yourself to unplug by blocking off time in your calendar and setting new boundaries.

3. Self-Soothing Exercises

Self-soothing refers to actions you can complete yourself to help regulate your nervous system and bring your body back to a more relaxed state. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, with an increased heart rate and racing thoughts, try some of these self-soothing techniques:

  • Take a warm shower or bath
  • Hold your own hands
  • Place your hand on your heart and focus on breathing through your nose

How Can I Raise My Energy?

1. Schedule a Power Nap

Power naps can do wonders for giving you a boost of energy when you reach the midday slumps. It is important for these naps to be less than 30 minutes in order to capitalize on the natural sleep cycle, a 90-minute cycle. When you sleep longer into the sleep cycle, you have a higher chance of waking up groggy. Stick to 20-30 minute naps by setting your alarm to ensure you wake up full of energy. 

2. Fuel Your Body with Protein

During the luteal phase, your appetite is naturally higher due to higher levels of progesterone. Your metabolism is also better during this time! Show your body extra care by fueling up on more calories and loading up on protein-rich foods to sustain your energy levels throughout the day. Small, frequent meals can help stabilize blood sugar and prevent energy crashes. 

Pro tip: beef sticks are easy to carry around and a great source of protein!

3. Give Yourself Permission to Rest

Don’t push yourself during the luteal phase. Sometimes, it's okay to say no and to order food and watch a movie on the couch. If you need a break, send a "I'm staying in" text and prioritize your well-being.

How Can I Fix Bloating? 

1. Ginger Tea 

Hormonal changes near the end of the luteal phase can often cause bloating. Ginger is a powerful tool for helping bloating by aiding the digestion process. Ginger tea is a great post-dinner drink to induce relaxation and help bloating during the luteal phase.

2. Stomach Massage

Bloating happens from trapped gas and slower digestion processes. Stomach massages can help aid the process. Follow these tips from the University of Michigan on how to give yourself a stomach massage:

  • Using your fingertips, start on the right side of your belly near the hip. Use in light circular motions going up towards the right until you hit the ribs. Then, slide straight over to the left side. Work your way down to the left, hitting the hip bone, and then back up to the belly button - take about 2-3 minutes for this part.
  • Spend roughly 1 minute going from the right hip bone to the right ribs, another minute going gently across the middle, and then 1 minute going down to the left by the pelvis, ending at the belly button.
  • Repeat, always going clockwise, for about 10 minutes. 

3. Hot yoga

Hot yoga is a great way to move your body in a low-impact way when you have low energy during the luteal phase. The combination of heat and movement can help alleviate bloating, stimulate digestion, and promote overall relaxation. This is my favorite luteal workout!

How Can I Sleep Better?

1. Digital Detox Before Bed

Although we all like our technology “enrichment time” before bed, the blue light coming from our screens can interfere with melatonin production, the hormone that is responsible for making us tired and letting us go to sleep. Commit to one hour of no technology before bedtime to make it easier to fall asleep.

Pro tip: If you absolutely must go on screens before bed, buy a pair of blue light glasses on Amazon.

2. 528 Hz Frequency

Sounds at a frequency of 528 Hz promote relaxation by reducing cortisol, the stress hormone. In addition to decreasing stress, putting on the same frequency each night before bed sets up a good routine for your body to expect when it is time to go to sleep, telling it to get ready for bed. 

3. Magnesium Glycinate

Magnesium promotes sleep by regulating the neurotransmitter GABA. GABA is associated with better sleep and relaxation. In fact, low levels of GABA are connected with insomnia and restlessness. Magnesium glycinate naturally increases GABA, encouraging better sleep. 

There you have it – a comprehensive guide to making your bad days better. Learn more about your cycle in the Aavia app. Found this blog helpful? Share this with a friend!