Typing this under artificial lighting with the curtains closed before 6pm is a certain reminder that we are now anchored firmly into autumn. I have always appreciated the beautiful changing colours of autumn but as late September approached there was also an underlying dread of the colder air (being naturally lizard-like enjoying the feeling of warm sun on my skin!) and shorter days. I had experienced a difficult and stressful time during the autumn many years ago so the transition into this time of year almost served as a reminder of those darker times and that association had sunken quite deeply into my psyche. I believe being able to associate with tough times is a good thing as it can help us realise how far we have come but my connection to long nights and dark times had become fairly unhelpful once I started to realise that it was wasting a lot of my precious energy and time due to being pre-occupied with an old story. The cooler winds and damp days also used to leave me feeling quite restless and ungrounded, which often led to a weakened immune system and another expectation of feeling under the weather at this time of year.
As you can tell the story was quite repetitive and boring, so it was time for another chapter to be written, which was one of embracing the longer evenings to spend time doing things I did less of during the summer months, such as reading more books, learning a new craft, painting/sketching, practising guitar or finding an interesting series to watch on TV, and of course lighting candles and having a long soak in the bath. Self-care is a huge part of keeping myself healthy and well during autumn so the opportunity to spend more time with myself is one I now cherish, but as ever it’s something that is continual work in progress! Just this week I realised that I’d been ignoring some sure signs that I needed to slow down and actually spend more time doing the things that nourish me, rather than just have the intention of doing so. I was beginning to feel restless, tired and a little under the weather because I hadn’t planned my week very well and kept running out of time to do everything I had set myself to do, meaning my energy and thoughts had started to become scattered. This is a huge anxiety trigger for me and my old story says that it’s safer to stay busy and run away from the unpleasant unsettled feelings of anxiety, but this time I decided to be grateful for the warning signs and stay put because with practice I’ve learnt that by doing so anxiety starts to lose its power very quickly, meaning I can become much more present to enjoy life, as well as the shift in the seasons. For those of you that relate to what I’ve mentioned I have included below some tried and tested methods that have helped me to stay well, present and embrace all that is autumn:
- Include grounding foods in diet, such as root vegetables, pulses and oats, think warming soups, pies, stews, porridge.
- Reducing my intake of cold foods and drinks, replacing salad with soup, having more milky drinks and warm water.
- I do still have cold showers because this is massively helpful in maintaining a healthy immune system (if you’re new to this I recommend starting by turning the temperature down at the end of your shower gradually for 30 seconds).
- The cold showers are complemented with long warm baths at the end of the day, which I put in epsom salts, a few drops of lavender with a small amount of grapeseed oil (any carrier oil will do).
- Feed your soul – do what you love to do, if you have a ‘summer thing’ find a ‘winter thing’ to replace it with, anything from painting, drawing, writing, music, reading, studying something new, have fun discovering what feeds your soul if you don’t already know!
- Grounding activities – staying present whilst doing anything that helps to feel our connection with the earth…… really feeling your feet on the ground whilst you walk or your seat on the floor if you meditate.
- Treating downtime as importantly as work and allocating space for it in my weekly schedule. This could be reading, enjoying the company of others, having a coffee, going for a walk, or simply just time to do nothing (in our society there seems to be a really weird guilty pleasure thing associated with time spent just ‘being’ doesn’t there?! I discovered though that by liberating myself from what can feel like a competition to see who has the busiest life is one of the best things I’ve done for my wellbeing)
- Finally and I would say a game changer for me (something else I’ve had to train myself to enjoy but has very much been worth it!) it simply lying down on the floor for 11 minutes (I’m not sure why 11 minutes feels like the magic number for me – I think because it’s long enough for me to reset without being too long to fall into a deep sleep and wake up with that groggy day time sleep feeling). Just lay down with no agenda, get as comfy as possible with blankets, cushions, bolsters, relaxing music, whatever you want and let your internal systems have an opportunity to rest and restore, this little gem never fails me!
If you have any tips to share with me please do and if you choose to try any of mine let me know how you get on.