As nature moves us firmly into the autumn months of 2020, I think most of us are feeling a heightened sense of what we might ordinarily feel as we approach winter in this country: perhaps a small sense of loss of the long, light days of summer and an underlying apprehension of how we might feel in the darkest of winter months, waiting until the light of next spring.
The usual, more positive feelings of excitement about spending Christmas with our families, cosy nights in with friends and winter holidays are all thrown up in the air by this year’s extraordinary circumstances . With the constant stream of depressing news, now is a crucial time to take what control you do have, of your own wellbeing – mental, physical and emotional, and recognise the inextricable link between these three elements of your being.
I always feel better when I make a simple, and easily executed, plan of how I am going to approach a time of change and potential challenge. The change of seasons does bring a change of priorities and feelings, autumn is traditionally a time for nurturing and drawing in after the productive frenzy of summer, as well as a time for clearing and cleaning.
My Autumn Plan includes:
- Daily Dry body brushing: to help the skin and lymphatic system to eliminate toxins, dry body brushing before your morning shower is a great way to boost immunity. Use a body brush (available in chemists) to brush from the soles of your feet all over your body, always working up towards the heart.
- Starting each day with yoga breath work: sitting comfortably, take a deep breath in, relax the perineum and pelvic floor on the in breath. To breathe out, squeeze the pelvic floor up and the lower belly muscles back towards the spine, imagining that you are gently brushing the out breath up the length of the spine. Try 12 breaths in this manner, taking care to work within your comfort zone, relaxing your jaw etc, only your belly and pelvic floor are contracting on the out breath. Imagine that you are sweeping away any stagnation from the night in preparation for a new day.
- Drink plenty of warm water with fresh Ginger and Lime or Lemon: this helps to support the liver, to keep our mucus membranes in good working order and to support the lymphatic system by keeping us hydrated. In addition, ginger, lemon and limes all have antimicrobial properties. I fill a flask last thing at night with boiling water, ginger and lime to replenish my body’s lost water first thing in the morning. I then top this flask up to drink throughout the day.
- Eat nourishing, slow cooked, hot foods, including spices and herbs as much as possible: Making time to enjoy cooking and the preparation of food is a good way to help our digestion – the better our digestion, the more nutrients we extract from our food. Slow cooked stews and tray bakes using lots of different coloured vegetables and pulses are a good way to keep healthy in our body and feel comforted emotionally. I have recently been making good use of frozen herbs, particularly parsley which is very high in Vitamin C. Most spices aid digestion and have some element of antimicrobial action.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself, make time to rest each day: If we are tired, everything seems harder work, including keeping a positive mindset. Autumn is a time when we can start to feel more tired and particularly with the current situation, we can easily feel drained. We often feel guilty taking time out of each day to sit and ‘do nothing’. Try reframing these times and know that you are doing something, you are giving your body and mind the rest it needs to function at its highest potential. Try simply sitting with a cup of tea and looking out of the window, or reading a book, meditating or power napping.
- Balance out the tide of negative news, make time to have fun: It needn’t cost money or take a lot of time to include fun in your day. Even starting your day with a bit of kitchen dancing to a good song or ending your day with some light comedy on the TV, or a funny book can help to lift your mood. Perhaps even include a regular family games evening!
- Get plenty of fresh air: making the most of any autumnal sunshine is good for all round wellbeing, including upping your Vitamin D intake. Being around nature, especially trees can help also boost our feel good hormones. I have recently made my dog walks a time to include contact with my friends in my day whilst abiding by social distancing rules.
- Exercise daily: as well as my daily yoga practice and dog walks, I am including a few short jogs into my week, for me this is a way mainly to release tension. Regular exercise is vital for good health. In the autumn and winter months, it is good not to push your body too hard at the same time as getting your lymphatic system moving, try: brisk walking, cycling, yoga or pilates.
- Aromatherapy help: I use my aromatherapy oil blends throughout the day to enhance my overall wellbeing – using them to lift my mood, to ground me and to create moments of connection and presence to myself.
- Declutter: although we think of spring as the traditional time to have a good clear out, it can greatly help our sense of wellbeing to simplify and clean our environment. Perhaps tackling some projects that have been hanging over you could help give you a feeling of control and a sense of order. I am clearing up my work space, going through old files which I have been meaning to do for 3 or more years! I am also clearing out my clothes as I prepare to swap summer and winter wardrobes.
- A gratitude journal: the practice of gratitude has been shown to have a positive effect on our overall wellbeing, including boosting our immune system. I bought a beautiful journal and write each day a list of things for which I am grateful.
I hope that you can enjoy the transition into autumn at this difficult time, and that forming your own Autumn Plan helps you to stay vibrantly healthy and happy this winter.