As the seasons change and we move into longer nights and colder temperatures in the northern hemisphere, it’s natural to want to hibernate and retreat into your own world away from the cold. While this has its benefits and is what our bodies crave and need in the Autumn and winter, it’s also so important to make time to nurture, nourish, and connect with yourself. The added lack of sunlight contributes to feeling lower and less motivated, so getting yourself out to do some exercise or picking the healthy food options when all you want is something comforting and stodgy, can be even more of a challenge.
Fall is a wonderful time to set new intentions for self-care, begin a new wellness routine, or revise what you have been doing for a while. The holidays will be here before you know it, and prioritizing self-care now will help you stay on track during those even busier winter months.
Autumn is seen as a time to pull our energy inward to prepare for winter. Autumn is about layering up and slowing down. It’s normal during this shift to feel a sense of loss as the light fades, but a great way to cheer yourself up is to spend some time outdoors. Now that the crazy heat is behind us, we can breathe in the brisk air a bit deeper and enjoy the beauty of the changing leaves.
Cultivating balance is vital during any transition. Do you notice how many people tend to get sick in the Fall and Winter seasons? Often, it’s because we’re depleted, not living in alignment with the season and in pushing the need for rest. Traditional cultures around the world celebrate the changing seasons with their communities as a way to acknowledge the shifts taking place on earth and within ourselves. Recognizing that we are part of the cycle of nature and that there is a time to put our energy outward (Spring and Summer) and a time to draw our power inward (Autumn and Winter) sets the foundation for a sustainable wellness practice. Making even slight lifestyle adjustments to our everyday rituals will support our wellbeing on many levels.
I’ve discovered the following practices very helpful as we transition into Autumn. Once the summer energy is far behind us, it can be hard to get motivated to take care of ourselves. The more you can prepare now, the more likely it is that you will be able to stay on track during those cold, darker months ahead.
GET PLENTY OF REST
Sleep is essential to keeping us happy and healthy. Honor the change in season by aligning with the natural cycle. Studies show that over time, lack of quality sleep impairs the immune system, which makes us more susceptible to colds and viruses that frequently float around during those cooler months. Not getting enough sleep has also been linked to low energy and weight gain. Ideally, adults should get 8-10 hours of sleep per night regardless of the season. However, it’s essential to take into account that we are all different. I tend to feel best with 6-7 hours, and some women thrive on 9-10 hours of sleep on average. Experiment with your sleep over the next few weeks and see what works best for you. Naps are also a great way to build some rest into your schedule. Bottom line, try to get as much rest as possible to keep yourself healthy this season.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Don’t go overboard setting crazy goals for yourself. It’s important to consider our obligations and what our current schedule looks like when we’re in the goal-setting process. In the long run, it’s more beneficial to set reachable goals, and then add on from there. One of my tendencies is this all or nothing mentality. Sometimes I think if I can’t do something thoroughly, then why bother? I’ve learned over time through lots of trial and error that I work well with more realistic benchmarks, and this ensures that my practices are sustainable and that I am working at an even keel.
CHECK YOUR VITAMIN D LEVELS
We get the majority of our vitamin D from the sun. Naturally, our intake decreases in colder months from spending more time indoors. Vitamin D increases fertility, keeps our bones healthy, and supports the immune system. It has also been shown to prevent breast cancer cell growth and is considered by many MDs to be a critical anti-cancer vitamin. Schedule a visit with your doctor to check your vitamin D levels so you can know how much you need to supplement with. This is a very routine test with a quick turnaround time for results.
NOURISH WITH SEASONAL FOODS
Squash, dark leafy greens, apples, beets, soups, and stews are all great places to start. Autumn is an ideal season to spend some time in the kitchen preparing your favorite nourishing foods. This is one of my favorite seasons for produce as the markets are overflowing with delicious fruits and veggies. Autumn is a great time to enjoy warmer meals prepared with love. Set aside a few hours each weekend to develop some of your favorite foods for the week. This is a great way to take care of yourself, align with the inward energy of the season and bonus, you’ll have food to bring to work all week!
STAY CONNECTED TO YOURSELF
As the leaves fall from the trees, the energy of the plant comes back to its roots. Our lives mirror that sense of grounding when we take the time to connect to the deepest parts of ourselves. Spend an afternoon in nature, sip a cup of tea, practice yoga, or sit quietly in meditation. There are so many ways that we can connect to ourselves and think about what gives our life meaning. Autumn invites us to slow down and look into our hearts to see where we want to go from here.
This is a beautiful season to step up your self-care and embrace all that Autumn has to offer. There’s truly no better time than now to start reaping the benefits of self-love and care.