I’ll just admit upfront that I’m researching this one as much for myself as for you lovely peeps. I have noticed over the years that the transition into Autumn is often when I end up with a nasty cold. This year Autumn is looking particularly busy for me, so add in a bit of extra stress and the risk ramps up a bit higher. Of course, getting the cold is not the end of the world but as well avoided if possible, I would say.
Autumn is a time of temperature changes, between warm and cool at the start of the season and between cool and cold towards the transition into winter. We see the first frosts, and experience cold winds. Especially at the start of the season, it can be difficult to know what to wear as the mornings and evenings are often chilly but the middle of the day can still be pretty warm. In Scotland, we’re already experiencing the daylight shrinking and with the summer holidays also behind us, Seasonal Affective Disorder may be rearing its head for some. I remember a regular client from my Aromatherapy days who would always be in a state of dread at this time of year, her mind fully focused on the winter ahead.
However, there are things we can do to help ourselves stay healthy in body and mind as Autumn and Winter approach. If last week’s post on the Vata stage of life grabbed your attention, you might be interested to know that Autumn is the Vata time of the year (there is also a Vata time of day – afternoon!) so most of the advice given there is also good advice for moving into Autumn, for example daily self-massage, cooking with warming spices, and getting plenty of sleep.
Other things to consider are:
- eating seasonally – the foods that are in season in our particular area or part of the world are generally exactly what we need for good health. Autumn in the UK is a time for root vegetables, butternut squash and pumpkin, leeks and onions, mushrooms, apples and pears, and blackberries or brambles. Good, warming, easily digestible foods – great for grounding soups and stews. Leeks, onions and garlic give the immune system a boost, and mushrooms are a veritable immune-boosting superfood. It’s time to leave behind the salads of summer and start bringing a flask of soup to work for lunch.
- getting outside and enjoying nature – it’s a beautiful time of year. Having a walk around the middle of the day will help to top up our vitamin D levels as well as being good for our mental health. A tip from Chinese medicine is to wear a scarf – there is an acupuncture point called Wind Pool at the base of the skull and keeping it covered is supposed to ward off illness.
- making our homes cosy, little nests. Nature draws her energy inwards in the Autumn and Winter and to be in tune with the season we can do the same. If we have to go into semi-hibernation, we might as well enjoy it! Candles, string lights, a spicy blend in a burner or diffuser, cushions and blankets. If you haven’t got caught up in the Hygge trend yet (try here and here), I would highly recommend it – makes me actually look forward to the dark evenings so I can get my string lights on again! We can spend some time journalling or doing hobbies in the dark evenings, or invite friends round during the day rather than always meeting in a cafe.
- doing a cleanse. This doesn’t have to be as drastic as a week-long fast, but Spring and Autumn are good times to reset our systems. There is a good article about choosing a cleanse (and what to avoid) here: https://chopra.com/articles/how-to-choose-a-healthy-detox. How about doing a Sugar-Free September? Sugar is known to depress the immune system and too much of it is definitely my worst health sin! Relating to the last point, we can also do a bit of a clear out at home as well – an uncluttered space really supports and relaxes us. To my mind, Hygge doesn’t include mess or clutter.
- thinking about how to transition our social lives to the colder seasons – some of us miss the easier socialising of the summer, others (like me) are overly drawn to hibernating and seeing no-one, but having a social support network is essential for our wellbeing. Some ideas are: long walks or hikes with friends and a flask of hot tea; brunches, lunches and early dinner parties (potlucks can be great); inviting friends round for a crafting evening (teach each other if you do different crafts); arrange a knitting/crochet circle at a local cafe once a week.
- taking some supplements. Vitamin D is essential for everyone in Scotland and most of the UK during the winter – even those who work outside don’t get enough actual sunshine to produce the required amounts of Vitamin D. Zinc and Vitamin C are known to boost up our immunity, as do herbal remedies such as Echinacea, Elderberry and Astragalus. Probiotics are also great for our immune systems, so either a probiotic capsule or eating probiotic foods such as live yoghurt, unpasturised sauerkraut or kimchi, kefir or kombucha, miso, proper sourdough bread (which is can be considered a seasonal food at this time of the year, by the way). And finally manuka honey is particularly helpful at the first sign of sore throat.
So there we go – a few tweaks to diet and lifestyle, stock up on seasonal foods and maybe a supplement or two, and we’ll go sailing into Autumn with healthy immune systems and happy minds! Did I miss anything? If you have any other tips and tricks, please share in the comments!