Some years in the UK we’re blessed with a nice smooth transition into Autumn with an Indian summer in September moving into a reasonably warm October, and maybe starting to pop the heating on towards the middle or end of the month…
No such luck this year was there?! We went straight from glorious sunshine and the last few days of summer slap bang into freezing temperatures, dark evenings, and what feels like endless rain.
We’ve enjoyed a fairly decent run of Spring and Summer, which I firmly believe made the lockdown and all the craziness of this year a lot more bearable. But, with a whole load of new confusing and contradictory restrictions on our freedom, regional lockdowns, and the ongoing risk of having to self-isolate, it’s really important that we enter the darker colder months fully prepared and equipped with strategies for coping and keeping ourselves physical, mentally, and emotionally fit and well.
Look after your body
The best advice I can give any of you as we shift into Autumn is to continue get outdoors as much as possible – connect with nature, ground yourself, get a decent amount of fresh air regularly. Go for a walk, run, or bike ride to get some healthy outdoor exercise and get your step count up. When you can’t get outside, you can exercise indoors – maybe you have some DVDs or home equipment you like to use, and of course there are now hundreds of classes online. Exercise is crucial for releasing happy hormones, managing stress, and getting a good nights’ sleep.
If you don’t want to exercise outside, it’s still really important to be getting some natural sunlight on the back of your eyeballs each day to ward off depression and low mood. Even a brief lunchtime walk can be beneficial, and when indoors try to sit near windows in a room where you get the most natural light. Many people swear by SAD (seasonal affective disorder) lamps or light boxes to increase their daily levels of light consumption, but there is still nothing better than natural light for increasing your production of melatonin (the hormone that makes you sleepy) and serotonin (one of the happy hormones).
While it’s tempting to turn to comfort foods and stodgy meals when it starts getting colder and the nights draw in, your body still needs a full range of nutrients so be sure to incorporate plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet, and drink lots of water. You might also want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement to top up your levels as we don’t produce enough naturally during the Autumn and Winter months. We need vitamin D to help the body absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet. These minerals are important for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. Our bodies create vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin when we’re outdoors. From about late March/early April to the end of September, most of us should be able to get all the vitamin D we need from sunlight. Another way to up your levels is by consuming foods containing vitamin D, including oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, as well as red meat and eggs.
It’s also important to keep warm – don’t scrimp on the heating if you’re cold, wrap up when heading out, invest in a hot water bottle or heated blanked, and take warming baths if that’s your thing. And don’t forget to take care of yourself with some pampering to remedy all the unfortunate things we can suffer from in the colder months – think chapped lips from the cold wind, dry skin from being around central heating, and why not invest in a treatment to soothe aching muscles like a relaxing massage with hot stones or lava shells?
Look after your mind
One of the biggest lessons most of us took from lockdown was just how important staying connected is for our mental and emotional wellbeing. While we couldn’t see each other in person it got us all connecting with family and friends (old and new) in an unprecedented way using technology more than ever – so don’t forget to keep that up. Also keep in mind those in your life who are most vulnerable – the elderly and single people living on their own who may not be coping so well or having to self-isolate. Being there for, and practising acts of kindness towards, others is one of the best ways to boost your own mental wellbeing and take your mind off any of your own worries, concerns, or anxiety.
While it’s wonderful to have a lazy evening or weekend on the sofa watching Netflix and eating rubbish, try to be aware of how much ‘lazy time’ you take. As important as it is to rest and have downtime, bear in mind that a day or two of nothing but this (thinking you’re treating yourself) can actually result in you feeling lethargic, sluggish, and even guilty for not having done anything. So be mindful of how much ‘lazy time’ you take and be aware of its effect on your state and how you feel. If you find you’ve had too much for one day, get up and do something – go for a walk, take some exercise, call a friend, or do some housework.
Another great way to keep your mind healthy is to regularly take action towards your goals. It’s really important for our self-esteem that we feel productive, accomplished, and like we’re moving forward, so make sure you take some positive action towards your goals every day – however small. Find your mind working at 100mph, obsessing, worrying, or overthinking things at times? Why not practice mindfulness to calm an overactive mind, or meditation to quiet the chatter and get into a more relaxed state? I continue to offer regular meditations online – click here for details – and will be launching my new meditation subscription service in November.
Look after your health and immunity
A change in temperature and suddenly being surrounded by artificial heat in shops, bars, restaurants, and at home, can often lead to a case of the sniffles, head cold, or worse – the seasonal flu. So, you know what aside, it’s important to have a real focus on boosting your immunity at this time of year. There are lots of ways to do this from taking supplements like vitamin C or echinacea, to getting regular doses of fresh air and exercise, and plenty of sleep. I also personally like to turn to my DoTERRA essential oils for boosting my immunity and keeping well:
- OnGuard is an anti-bacterial blend I like to diffuse or apply topically via a rollerball.
- Air is a blend tailored for easy breathing when feeling a bit stuffy and I’ll either diffuse this or inhale directly from the bottle.
- Frankincense oil is great for overall health and immunity, and I’ll often start the day with a drop on the roof of my mouth, or I take this internally with some olive oil in a veggie cap.
- I also like to add Ginger oil to my hot lemon water in the mornings at this time of year which adds a warming kick and is great for your throat.
- If I do get ill, I take the famous DoTERRA FLOOM bomb – 2 drops each of Frankincense, Lemon, On Guard, Oregano, and Melaleuca oils added to a veggie cap for a few days.
Look after your home
Another thing I love to do at this time of year is have an ‘autumn clean’. Why do this just once a year in the Spring? I like have a good clear out and reorganise twice a year when I swap my wardrobe over, so this October I’ll be putting away all my summer dresses and sandals, digging out all my lovely woolly jumpers, boots and big coats. And at the same time I’ll be taking advantage of the opportunity to go through all my possessions and storage having a clear out, getting rid of anything I never wear anymore, have a real deep clean of my cupboards and drawers, pulling things out and hoovering behind them to get rid of dust. Believe me, if you do this you’ll feel a lot better for it, and then you can head towards the festive season feeling organised and on top of things in your home. And don’t forget to give anything reusable and in reasonable condition to charity shops or pass onto friends or family who may be able to get use out of them.
So you can see how, while this can often be seen as a sad or depressing time of year as we adjust to the colder weather and shorter days, Autumn is full of opportunities to refocus on your health and wellbeing. There are plenty of things you can do to keep your body, mind and soul in a positive state at this time, but if you do find yourself struggling – don’t suffer alone – reach out to your close friends and family to share how you’re feeling, focus on self-care and looking after your wellbeing, and take action to start improving your state.
Wishing you a beautiful Autumn,