Self-care and joy during the autumn season
Autumn is a season that helps us prepare for the darker and colder months in winter. The seasons are part of natural cycles and they will inevitably affect our bodies. It will affect our sleeping cycles, our mood and energy levels, and our immune system. It’s time to go inwards after the expansion experienced over summer by being mostly outside. The more we adjust our lifestyles, our mind, body and soul to be in tune with the seasons, the better we will feel with our bodies and with ourselves. The autumn season is an ideal time to let go of things that no longer serve us (just as it happens when trees shed their leaves). It’s time to feel the cosyness and warmth, time to rest, and time to do some inner work.
Below I share 6 self-care building blocks that I practice to live more in tune with the autumn season:
1. Connecting with yourself
As sadness might be a dominant emotion in this season is important to connect with your deeper issues. Having a journaling practice can help bringing more self-awareness and self-understanding of where you are at in your own life journey. It can generally help you find your center. Try spending 10-15 min in the morning, and another 10 min in the evening so you can be more self-aware about what your dominant feelings are, what supports and what does not support your well-being at the moment, what you need to let go of so you can experience more joy, and what can you learn from the current situation. These are important check in questions that will help you connect with yourself on a deeper level. Having a writing practice will help you learn to listen to your own changing needs of your body within the cycles of the season and it helps in having more self-awareness, clarity and consequently spurring action.
Journal questions that you can explore to be more in tune with the season:
-What is the weather like?
-What colors did I notice?
-How am I feeling?
-How is the light lke?
-How are my energy levels? What is my mood like?
-What self-care do I need to practice right now to have optimal wellbeing and health?
2. Cleansing your body and supporting your immune system
My best allies during the autumn season against cold, flu and body inflammation are broths, hot herbal tea and natural supplements. Generally, keeping yourself hydrated will help you thrive during the autumn season and will keep you away from being sick. I generally take a glass of hot veggie broth 5-10 min prior to the meals -breakfast, lunch, dinner. I usually boil water containing parsley, celery, onion, lettuce and a bit of lemon juice and ginger for about 20 min on a cooking pot, and voilà…! Broths are great to cleanse our lymphatic system and flush toxins away from our body. If I do not have broth I take hot water with lemon first thing in the morning, which is also considered to be a good ally to help cleansing our body. I also rely a lot on turmeric and ginger roots to spice up my meals or I add them in my herbal tea, as they are natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant foods that help with body inflammation, boost the immune system, reduce joint pain, help with memory loss, and have great antiviral and antibacterial properties that help you stay healthy. Having herbal tea all day throughout is also part of my seasonal care. My favorites over the autumn season are peppermint tea, echinacea tea, ginger and lemon tea, honeybush tea, rooibos, rose tea, chamomile tea and relaxing tea such as lime flower tea before bedtime. I also make sure I get my daily dose of sunshine to improve my mood and favor my vital body processes. If you fall short of sunshine exposure is always worth checking your vitamin D levels with your doctor and make sure you get your daily dose through vitamin D supplements instead, if needed. The intake of foods such as nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens, cocoa, avocado and banana will provide the source of magnesium to our bodies in order to function well. Most of our internal processes, including our nervous system and proper brain function require magnesium, hence the importance of taking foods containing magnesium.
3. Being reflective, slowing down and savoring the moment
During autumn is definitely a time to slow things down, staying warm and cosy, and savoring all the moments. It’s time to get rooted so you can flourish during spring again. It is a reflective period to create space for the new things to come. Try out a new hobbie (e.g. knitting), make sure you grab a great book, journal, paint some mandalas to further develop your creativity and simply be present with whatever it is that you enjoy doing -whether that is cooking a nice meal, taking care of your plants and your home environment, looking through the window while it rains outside, having a bubble bath, having living room conversations or enjoying food with family and friends. Get rid of all the things that no longer serve you at home and remain with the essential bits, just like the trees shed leaves and remain with the essential. Don’t forget to do some mind clearing as well. It’s time to question yourself and go inward. What makes you, YOU? What are your life values at the moment? What thoughts about yourself are no longer serving you? What beliefs are hindering your self-development? What behaviors are supporting your well-being and self-growth? What do you want to create space for? What habits will help you feel better? This time of the year is perfect to tackle all these inner issues.
4. Your autumn foods
Eat whole foods, seasonal veggies and fruits such as: pumpkins, sweet potatoes, parsnips, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, leeks, celery, beets, cauliflower, broccoli, winter squash, turnips, Swiss chard, butternut, pomegranate, apples, chestnuts, mushrooms, grapes, cranberries, and oranges. You will probably notice that your plate will actually look like the colors from the nature outside: orange, yellow, brown, green. It is likely that you will feel more inclined to eat more stews, stir fries, soups, or simply bake veggies or an apple cake in the oven. Hot meals will become more and more appetizing.
5. Beat the sluggishness in autumn and practice joyful movement
Make sure you wake up early with the sunlight, this will guarantee that you make the most of your day and you will feel more in tune with the autumn days. Add greens at every meal, whenever possible and lighter dinners at night. This will help you feel more vibrant and will boost your mood and energy levels. Try to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. The rule of thumb for feeling good is to eat balanced and nutritious meals, in moderated amounts and with a wide array of veggies and fruits. With the duration of daylight becoming noticeably shorter, and temperatures getting cooler one can easily feel lazy to move the body. Listen to your body so you can move based on how you feel. Do some stretching, some pilates or yoga, if that is what you like doing. Be gentle with yourself and make sure you enjoy what you are doing. If we force ourselves to do something we do not enjoy, the movement practice will not be sustainable over time. Don’t beat yourself up at the gym if you hate doing HIIT training or dumbbell moves to build muscle. Rather try to find an activity that you find pleasure in and enjoy the feeling it gives you when you practice it. Focus on how the movement makes you feel after you are done with the activity, and this will probably trigger continuity in your practice. Start with small steps, and you will build up your practice with time.
6. Relax and adjust your sleeping cycles
As the sunlight goes down it is important to slow down our rythm and spend time to relax when outside is dark. The use of essential oils (such as lavender, neroli, frankincense, eucalyptus, or cedarwood), incense sticks or sage can help you with creating a peaceful environment and clear the energy to relax before bedtime. Practices such as meditation, conscious breathing or gentle yoga can also help prepare you for bedtime. Conscious deep breathing is very powerful. It does not only help with improving the oxygen available in our bodies, but also favoring the elimination of toxins, improving the condition of the nervous system, reducing stress and enhancing our vitality in general. How to breathe? Breathing slowly and deeply from the diaphragm with one hand on our belly and the other hand on our chest between our collar bones. We will notice how our belly expands as we inhale deeply and contracts when we exhale. Deep conscious breathing helps create feelings of calmness and relaxation and helps with modulating our emotions.
These are my main self-care building blocks to thrive over the autumn season. I would love to hear what self-care practices help you out during this season, as well!
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