As the bustle of summer comes to an end, the days are getting shorter and the air is getting cooler. Many of us naturally look forward to the warmth of cider, our softest sweaters, and the enchantment of leaves turning bright colors. Fall is a season of transformation, a time to embrace change and turn over a new leaf.
But for some, the start of a new season brings heightened feelings of anxiety, seasonal mood changes, and energy shifts. It’s also during this transitional time we may find ourselves getting sick more easily. Here are a couple of ways to overcome these seasonal obstacles so you can flow more comfortably into fall:
To stay in rhythm with nature’s flow, it may be helpful to adjust your diet. In the summer you might naturally feel better eating foods with lighter, cooler energy like watermelon or raw salads, and consuming plenty of refreshing drinks. As the temperature begins to drop, however, your body might naturally crave warmer and denser foods.
Pay attention to the seasonal produce that’s featured in your grocery store or farmer’s market like sweet potatoes, squash, turnips, and dark leafy greens. Enjoy warming and energy-rich dishes like soups and stews supplemented with herbs and spices.
You can also make cooking a heart-warming experience rather than just a chore. One way to do this is to involve friends or family when you’re preparing a meal. Sometimes it’s not just what you eat, but the caring and communal energy that goes into a meal - from preparation to cleanup - that makes it truly satisfying.
Here’s another thought- explore the tea aisle in your local supermarket and look for warm drinks to sip during the pleasantly cool autumn days. Hot, natural teas can be good for calming for your nervous and digestive systems as well as helping to manage your appetite.
When it comes to feeling happy and healthy, when you eat can sometimes affect you as much as what you eat. Eating your meals at regular times each day can help your body find a rhythm that helps to balance your hormones and energy levels. If you’re feeling out of sorts, try making your evening meal simpler and smaller so that it doesn’t interfere with your sleep. Digestion takes work, too, and if you’re falling asleep on a full stomach or after eating something salty/spicy/sugary, it can make it harder to wake up feeling rested.
The shorter days may mean there’s less sunlight to stimulate your system, so maintaining a consistent and reasonable bedtime can help you feel refreshed and energized. Avoid too much screen-light (from your phone, tablet, or computer) for a few hours before bed. This may help to stabilize your circadian rhythm and avoid seasonal swings in mood and energy.
In times of change, we can find ourselves getting flustered more easily. Autumn is an excellent time to incorporate grounding exercises like Sleeping Tiger posture into your daily routine. Sleeping Tiger posture can help to strengthen your legs and core, increase the circulation of energy in your body, and deepen your breathing. Try it after some warm-up exercise or stretching. Here’s how it’s done:
1. Lie on a yoga mat (or any slightly soft surface, like a carpet) with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms to the side, and your palms facing up.
2. Close your eyes and breathe comfortably but consciously, releasing any tension from your chest and shoulders as you exhale.
3. Slowly raise your legs, bending your hip and knee joints at about a 90-degree angle. Your legs should be parallel, your knees a fist-distance apart, and your feet gently flexed.
4. Raise your arms and flex your wrists so your palms face the ceiling. Keep your elbows slightly bent.
5. Bring your awareness to your abdomen. You may feel heat and pressure in your lower abdomen, as well as a shaking sensation. These are signs that you are opening up blocked energy meridians.
6. Try to hold Sleeping Tiger posture for 5 minutes. Breathe comfortably, focusing on your core area. As you continue to practice you should be able to increase your endurance in the posture to 10 or 15 minutes.
7. When you’re finished, slowly lower your legs and cross them into a half-lotus posture. If that is difficult, you can relax by simply setting your feet on the floor with your knees bent. Spend at least a minute or two allowing your muscles and breathing to completely relax.
It is said that your lower abdomen is the location of the physical energy center or Dahnjon. By holding Sleeping Tiger posture, you can practice staying calm, centered and patient as you gather and accumulate energy. Try it and see how you feel!
Have you ever noticed yourself reaching for your phone the moment after you turn off your computer? Are there times when a lack of news and stimulation from text messages, Facebook, or your emails makes you feel irritated or uncomfortable? This can be a sign that you’ve been plugged-in for too long to social media, the internet, and outside stimulation. Take at least 20 minutes a day to reconnect with yourself, distraction-free, and you will feel a difference in your energy.
Downtime doesn’t have to mean ‘doing nothing’. Many downtime activities can be just that- active. For example: exercising, painting, reading, or even taking a warm bath can be great ways to ‘reconnect’ with yourself. Even meeting a friend for lunch and some pleasant conversation - phones off- or sitting down and journaling by yourself can be excellent for your sense of wellness.
Hopefully, these ideas have helped you get inspired to go with the flow this autumn. Rather than grieving over the end of summer’s warm days, enjoy fall as a time to reflect upon the blessings of the past, take stock of the present, and let go of what is no longer useful. Just like the natural world, we need a time to get back to the basics of self-care. In many ways, that’s when we’ll observe some of life’s most beautiful moments.