Many of my followers know that I had some issues around my alcohol consumption, and I wanted to change. Over the years I had attempted to give up alcohol, but always went back to drinking after some time off.
I found a research study[i] that showed ovulation activated a part of brain called ventral tegmental area (VLA), which acts like the reward center of the brain, therefore around ovulation you are looking to reward yourself more, and in my case, this was with alcohol.
So, I started to use my charting method to track my cravings and when I felt like I was going to break.
The method is really simple. Each month when I started a new period, and I started a new chart. I would fill in ahead when I was due to ovulate.
I charted how I felt each day, and noted the days when I felt a real craving for a drink. I noticed I really was craving alcohol more around my ovulation phase. I would make sure I wrote this down every time I really felt like alcohol.
As I charted throughout the month, I was aware of when I may be feeling vulnerable and I was therefore able to put in more support. Whether that was avoiding situations where there was a lot of alcohol, talking to a friend to reinforce my good choices or spoiling myself with something different like my favorite chocolate; I felt prepared and aware why I might be feeling this way.
When I researched more about addiction and menstrual cycles, I found another more recent study[ii] that showed a new link between menstrual cycle and drug cravings may explain differences between men and women in cocaine seeking and vulnerability to relapse after quitting.
These findings reinforced what I found to be quite intuitive, as this study showed that women in the fertile phase of their cycle (ovulation) to have higher cravings.
By charting I am able to know what is ahead, and therefore plan better and support myself to succeed, rather than go along blindly and struggle through the evitable craving I was having.
Charting empowered me to achieve this result and I continue to use charting for so much in my life. Use your cycle to benefit you, know when you are at your best and when times can be challenging.
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[i] Higher estrogen levels linked to increased alcohol sensitivity in brain’s reward center. Science Daily. Amy Lasek. November 7 2017.
[ii] Menstrual cycle phase influences cocaine craving. Elsevier. Science Daily, 5 March 2019