know thyself

Some days I have so much energy and feel so positive and optimistic that it feels like even my wildest dreams could easily be made realities. Other days I feel so tired and blue that I can barely move. I wish my energy followed more of an even keel, but this is how I am: consistently inconsistent.

In an effort to better understand myself and the peaks and troughs in my energy levels (and subsequent moods) I’ve been charting said energy levels for the last four months. I’ve been trying to account for the circumstantial ‘life’ stuff, like how busy or stressed I am between one day and the next, and just focus on the physical – it’s like trying to imagine the behaviour of the Coriolis force in the absence of Earth’s rotation or landmasses: a simplified model for something that is actually quite complex.

Over the last four months I’ve changed jobs, moved house, travelled, got sick once, changed my diet, and had periods of time with no alcohol at all, and periods of time with plenty. So if I could remove all of that white noise and pretend I was living in a cave on top of a mountain on my own, completely in tune with my own rhythms, I could use that knowledge to my advantage, which is the ultimate point of this exercise.

If I knew that a period of time was approaching when I usually have a lot of energy I could make use of that energy to get stuff done. Alternatively, if I know a lull in energy is almost upon me I can rest up and not feel bad about it – I knew this time was coming and have made allowances for it, so there’s no need to get annoyed/impatient/pissed off with how crap I feel and not understand where it’s coming from. It’s a kind of ‘make hay while the sun is shining’ attitude: do more stuff when you have the energy, and do less when you don’t.

So what have I found? I’m generally at the mercy of two cycles: my own menstrual cycle, and the moon’s cycle. I’m not on the Pill, so the first cycle is au naturel and arrives on a regular basis just after the new moon. I sometimes get a bit down and feel like everything in my life is shit and I’ll never be happy in the days leading up to my period starting (luckily I’ve been doing this self-analysis stuff for long enough that I can figure out why I feel this way – it’s not rocket science), but the event itself is usually relatively benign and pain-free, especially in comparison to some of the horror stories I’ve heard from other women.

The moon’s cycle, however, seems to have more of an effect on me. In the days leading up to the full moon I often feel bloated, lethargic, irritable, angsty, and generally out-of-sorts. Observing the gravitational pull that the moon has on water, and considering that we also contain a lot of water, it’s not too much of a tenuous link to realise that the moon has a gravitational pull on us too.

I often feel at my best around new moon, when the moon is aligned between Earth and the sun and the gravitational pull of each is in the same direction. Around full moon however, Earth is aligned between the moon and the sun and the gravitational pull each exerts is in opposing directions, which is often how I feel: scattered and unsettled and like I’m being pulled every which way. I don’t necessarily have less energy, but the energy I have is often fragmented.

I’ve included the last four month’s charts below, with black or brown representing being physically sick, emotionally unhinged, or extremely tired – it’s good to see that the number of these days per month is on the down. Yellow represents an average day in the sense that I’m not bouncing off the walls, nor am I dragging my feet too much either. Light green denotes ‘goodish’ – not quite good, but better than average, and dark green is ‘good’. Orange denotes ‘very good’ meaning I have lots of energy all day and feel great because of it and tend to get a lot done. I have to be careful with these days as I have a tendency to push it to the limit and then feel tired the next day.

What about you, do you have peaks and troughs in your energy or your moods? Do you know why? Can you see through the white noise of your day-to-day life to catch a glimpse of the bigger picture?

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