For some, the change in the seasons can bring about seasonal anxieties. Here are some ways to look after yourself this autumn
The transition from summer to autumn is perhaps one of the most drastic. One week, we’re sitting in our gardens making the most of the summer sun, the next we are wrapped up warm and buffeted by autumn winds. We suddenly feel the cold and the visual display of our trees being stripped of their leaves is a stark reminder that things are on the change.
Whereas spring offers the hope of the sunny days of summer, the prospect of winter looming can have a profound effect on our well-being. We know that we have a winter to get through before we reach those warm spring days. And with the cost-of-living crisis also affecting so many, the arrival of autumn reminds us that we can’t stop the march of time.
But there are things we can do to help offset the natural feelings of despondency. Reminding ourselves that autumn and winter are temporary – just the ongoing eternal cycle of season changes – is just one way. There are warm spring days to look forward to. Here are a few more tips.
Listen to your body
While looking after yourself should be a year-round priority, listening to what your body is telling you that it needs when you aren’t feeling right is even more crucial.
Sometimes a duvet day might be needed and we don’t need to feel guilty about taking comfort from the warmth of some extra time in bed. Give yourself permission to take some time out if you need it, whether that’s taking some quiet time to read, or watching something you don’t have to think too hard about on the television.
Your body will tell you what it needs and giving it the time and proper care will help you through the winter. After all, your body is the most important thing you own.
Nourish your body
If the colder weather is taking it out of you, it can be tempting to reach for comfort foods that aren’t perhaps the best for us.
Aim instead to look after your body (and your mind) with rich, nourishing foods. This is the perfect season to be slow-cooking healthy soups or stews. These would normally contain root vegetables that are bursting with vitality and comfort. Not only do they help with brain and body function, they can also warm you up when it’s cold and miserable outside.
Starting your day with a piping hot bowl of porridge is also an inexpensive and nourishing start to your day.
It’s our natural instinct to feel protected against the cold weather so why not listen to what your body is telling you and get cosy?
That doesn’t necessarily mean forking out on anything fancy either. A heavy blanket, throw or fleece is enough to snuggle down under. Keeping a handful of comfy items around the house will help you feel more secure.
Maintain your vitamin D
Most of us should be able to create vitamin D throughout the sunnier months of March and September but maintaining the process during the colder months can prove trickier.
It’s therefore worth introducing vitamin D supplements to your diet. Vitamin D plays a vital role in keeping our bones, teeth and muscles healthy; studies have also shown that the vitamin also helps regulate our moods.
Don’t suppress the way you feel
If the autumn climate is making you feel off-colour, accept it for what it is. Trying to fight against how you feel is tiring and can make you feel worse. Instead, be kind to yourself and remind yourself that it’s ok to feel this way. These feelings have no less worth than those of feeling happier, even if that is more uncomfortable. You can turn things on their head by asking yourself ‘How can these feelings serve me?’ and putting them to a productive use.
Remind yourself that this can be a challenging time of year for you, and that you can only try your best. Go easy on yourself.
The weather may put you off opening the door and getting outside but doing just that can be one of the best things for you this season.
Scandinavian countries embrace the Nordic concept of ‘friluftsliv’ or open air living during the darker months of winter. It champions spending time outdoors and staying active, whatever the weather. And it’s been proven to help people’s well-being. The fresher, crisper air is great for clearing the cobwebs and getting clean oxygen into your lungs and brain. Combine a brisk walk in the park with a cheeky stop at a coffee shop to warm your cockles.
The pandemic has shown us how important social interaction is to us so make time to catch up with friends and family, even if it’s just for a coffee or a walk.
It has been proven that people who are more socially connected to family, friends, or their community are happier, physically healthier, and live longer, with fewer mental health problems than people who are less well connected. This is especially important during the colder months.
Plan for the future
While we roll headlong into the rougher seasons of autumn and winter, we can take hope from the fact that spring and summer await us on the other side. Accepting that this year’s summer has gone can affect us emotionally, but we can offset that by planning for warmer days ahead.
Whether it’s a holiday, time with friends, or even redecorating an area of your house, putting yourself mentally into the future will help you remember that the harsher seasons of the year don’t last forever. Working on your plans will also keep your mind active and positive.