Fall Wellness Tips
September is the month of the official start to fall. I don’t know about you, but this is personally my favorite season of the year. Not only because my birthday falls during this time, but the beauty of the leaves changing, the days slowly getting shorter, and finding ourselves inside more with warm spicy beverages and cozy candles is a nice transition from all the activity of summer. As with the changes of this season, it’s important to prepare our bodies for the natural ebb and flow we see in nature. The start of a new season is the perfect time to reevaluate your self-care and wellness routines and adapt them to the new needs of the one we currently find ourselves in. Let’s discuss some ways to get started on updating your fall wellness plan.
1. Sleep. Adapt your sleep and waking schedule around the changing season. As the days start to get shorter, you will find the sun is setting a little earlier and the evenings darker for longer. In addition, the sun will start to rise later and the mornings will be darker and colder for longer. If your sleep has gotten off track a bit, or perhaps hasn’t been made the priority it should, this is an excellent time to get that back in sync. Ideally, we would naturally fall asleep shortly after the sun goes down and naturally rise with the sun in the morning effortlessly and feeling refreshed. For most (ok, all) this isn’t the case. One of the biggest disrupters of sleep is the blue light found in screens. It is so important to cut off screen time 1-2 hours prior to bed in addition to avoiding brightly lit rooms. Try dimming your lights to a comfortable low level once the sun goes down and limit tv, computer, and phone usage in the evenings. This not only helps you fall asleep easier, but will give your mind more space to rest and think. Try reading for thirty minutes before dozing off and using an eye mask to create total darkness for sleep. I have found that using a sunset/sunrise alarm clock helps mimic the sunrise and set, making it exponentially easier to both fall and stay asleep, and rise in the morning feeling well rested. If you struggle with regular quality sleep, I highly recommend checking one out.
2. Exercise. It’s very tempting to retreat indoors once the weather starts to drop and you feel that fall chill in the air, however, it’s important to keep moving and get outside in nature. Taking walking breaks throughout the day is a great way to stay active and reduce the effects of prolonged sitting. Fresh air and sunshine is also one of the best things for keeping your immune system strong and energy going throughout the day. Take advantage of the beautiful changing leaves, bundle up with a cozy hot drink, and enjoy a brisk paced walk in your favorite outdoor locations.
3. Manage Stress. 2020 has quite possibly been the most stressful year for all of us collectively. That stress has permeated its way through most areas of our lives, making it harder to compartmentalize it in one place. Stress is the ultimate killer of our health, joy, peace of mind, sleep, and overall wellness. By practicing daily stress reduction and relaxation techniques, we are able to offset some of this stress and not let it build to the point of running the show. Think of stress as a bucket filling with water and your job is to poke multiple holes in the bucket for the water to slowly drain out of. Life will keep filling the bucket, but our job is to keep releasing the buildup using a variety of techniques that work for you personally. Some ways you can do this might include reading, cooking, spending time with friends and family, going on a run, diaphragmatic breathing exercises, visualizations, guided meditations, and journaling. What works the best is what you find relaxes you the most. Create a list of these things during a time of calm to refer back to during times of stress when you may not be able to recall such strategies.
4. Joy and Gratitude Lists. This is your biggest secret weapon for combating stress. In times of overwhelm, a great practice is to turn on the joy and gratitude channel in your mind, just as you would change the channel on your television. You will want to make a list of things that genuinely bring you joy coupled with things you are genuinely grateful for. You will be transformed very quickly when you whip out this list during times of high stress and allow yourself to experience these feelings. It combats the cortisol flooding through your system and starts to usher in all the feel good chemicals that will calm and ground you.
5. Consume warm, seasonal foods and spices. Adapting our diets to the season is a great way to encourage our health and wellness. Luckily the fall offers some of the best cuisine around! Think baked apples sprinkled with cinnamon, warm sweet potatoes and butternut squash, homemade casseroles, and nourishing soups and stews. Try adding warm lemon water in the morning before your coffee and drinking room temperature water throughout the day to keep your system hydrated and flushed. Nutrition this time of year has never tasted better!
Look through this list and think about how you’re doing in each one of the areas and which ones may be an opportunity for growth. Start there, and focus on one area per week. Small changes consistently lead to big changes over time. Starting to focus on your health and wellness now is the perfect gateway into winter where you will need it most. Health is a journey, and luckily a fun and tasty one this season!