The Joys Of Autumn
When summer comes to an end, there’s an undeniable ‘back to school’ feeling. The arrival of darker nights and dropping temperatures signals a long winter ahead and this has a profound effect on our mood and our systems. Naturally, our minds jump ahead, but actually, we can make the decision to enjoy the seasonal shift into autumn. It is such a glorious time when the earth is still carrying the heat from the warmth of the sun and the leaves begin to change colour from green into a riot of golds, rich copper, nutty browns and honeyed yellows. Too often, it’s tempting to close the curtains and spend more time indoors – but getting out into nature is a great chance to witness all this happening and it slows things down.
When you’re out, practice a little mindfulness – use all five senses to drink in the smell of the wet earth, maybe taste a ripe juicy blackberry from the hedgerow, feel the texture of the dried leaves, take in the scene visually, and listen to the sound of the birds. It also helps to wrap up warm even see it as a way to road test your new season coat, boots and woolly jumper – a little retail therapy always helps. If you need more incentive, keep in mind that staying active like this will help maintain the energy levels you built up from being more active and outdoorsy over the summer.
We can also borrow from Ayurvedic thinking (the ancient Indian system of medicine), in which the seasons are thought to align with its characteristic categories. Autumn is seen as Vata – cold temperatures, blustery winds and dry air align with the Vata body tendencies of cold hands and feet, dry skin, fast movements and a quick mind, offering an explanation for feeling restless or a little anxious at this time.
To counteract this, a Vata balancing diet of warm, freshly cooked foods, avoiding dry raw fruits and vegetables, is recommended. Which makes perfect sense – embarking on a spartan raw food detox regime would seem odd now. Instead of fruit salad, what could be more comforting than a seasonal compote of apples and pears spiced with clove, cinnamon and sweetened with a little local honey, served warm? The abundance of parsnips, pumpkin, butternut squash and beets inspires hot soups and roasted veg instead of salads. And warming drinks are on the Vata menu too: plain hot water instead of cold, or ginger tea made with fresh slices of root ginger.
These things will all feed into keeping our immune system boosted through the cold and flu season, plus there are other practical steps we can take to keep those sniffles and coughs away. For example, research shows that over 80% of our immunity comes from healthy flora and fauna (good bacteria) in the gut which we can further enhance with fermented foods such as miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir or live yoghurt (plain no additives). We can also take a good pro-biotic – a VH favourite is Mega Probiotic ND. Also, it’s a good time to begin taking a Vitamin D supplement as it’s thought around 1 in 5 of us Brits are D deficient. More so if you have darker skin – studies show it affects 90% of the multi-ethnic population in the UK. Sprays such as Better You DLux and drops for example, Biocare Vitasorb D are the most convenient way to take it.
Taking these practical steps will help our bodies adjust, but it’s also important to acknowledge that autumn into winter is a time of going inwards emotionally – a sort of hibernation. It’s a great excuse to sleep a little later, or use darker mornings and evenings to meditate by candlelight. Choose one which has the added benefit of blended essential oils for example, Aromatherapy Associates Inner Strength Candle has a re-affirming and uplifting combination of cardamom and frankincense, Neom Real Luxury Scent to De-Stress has an enveloping aroma of jasmine, a touch of lavendar and rosewood all of which are renowned for their de-stressing and mood lifting properties.
Finally, don’t forget to adjust your beauty routine – our skins do tend to get drier with the cold, central heating and taking hot baths. Adding in a body and facial oil is a great idea. Back to the wisdom of Ayurveda – sesame oil is used on the body and face to calm Vata energy. It’s rich in Vitamin Erich in Vitamin E which is an excellent anti-oxidant, plus magnesium, copper, calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamin B6 thought to help strengthen muscles and joints. Buy pure organic non-toasted oil – Clearspring is a good brand – warm it a little by standing the bottle in hot water, then generously massage onto your face and body before your bath or shower, allow it to absorb then rinse. With a these little strategies in place you’re ready to embrace autumn and you’ll be fully prepped for the coming winter.