Updated: Jan 6
It's September now - a new month and the beginning of a new season that often brings a lot of change into our lives. The summer busyness is winding down, perhaps the kids are going back to school, and cooler temperatures are setting in. Mother Nature is beginning to trade in the bright, warm, and long summer days for cooler, shorter, darker ones. Leaves are changing colours and some are beginning to fall.
I don't know about you, but I always find the changing of seasons into Fall to have a profound effect on me, more so than other times of the year. To my mind and body, it meant a new rhythm - a return to school or work and to a new routine. It's meant pulling out sweaters and cozy socks as I prepare physically and mentally for colder weather coming.
While we don't often realize it, our bodies are making internal, subconscious preparations for this seasonal shift from summer to fall. Taking extra care to bring awareness towards the changes around us and within us can go a long way in supporting our personal health.
Below are a few favourite practices for preparing for Fall, both mentally and physically.
Prioritize Moments of Slowness
Set aside time to pause and be still. Oftentimes, the new routines and responsibilities that come with Fall detract from our commitments to ourselves and our self-care. We get busy looking after the schedules of our kids, starting to juggle our new class schedules, or taking on new work responsibilities, and to make space for it all, we knock downtime and self-care off of our priority list. It's easy to do.
And if we're not careful, we can find ourselves totally exhausted and overloaded this time of year. Remember - your body is adapting to your new requirements of it, too. It's normal to feel tired earlier in the day (when you didn't used to be in the summer!) as you mentally and physically sink into a new routine. Be intentional in giving yourself time for reflection and rest. Prioritize stillness. You will better be able to concentrate and give your all to your work once you've given yourself time to refuel.
Start a gratitude journaling practice this season. Commit to short journal entries to end the day, reflecting on your feelings and setting intentions for tomorrow.
Pick up a new book to read this Fall. Don't overwhelm yourself with reading too much, but instead make a habit of reading 10-15 pages each night to wind down and prepare your mind for sleep.
Enjoy a cup of hot tea with a cozy blanket.
Start a meditation practice.
Make a Habit of Getting Enough Sleep, Regularly.
We've all heard how important good, quality sleep is to our overall health. And the changing of the seasons and a new daily routine is the perfect time to set and commit to a strong sleep schedule. Consistency is key. Doctors recommend getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night, so do the math and set a bedtime that allows you the rest your body needs.
After our internal clocks and schedules have been all over the place over the summer, our bodies are yearning for consistency. In fact, according to the Sleep Doctor, "A consistent sleep schedule conveys many benefits, like having an easier time falling asleep and more energy during the day." Other benefits include improved mood, better mental agility and a stronger immune system (who isn't looking for that during the Fall?).
Avoid screen time before bed. Not only does mindless scrolling on your phone, fitting in a few extra minutes of work, or watching a show right before bed reduce the likelihood of sticking to your sleep schedule, the bright lights can actually confuse your brain on whether it really is time to prepare for sleep or not.
Ensure you are not going to bed on a full stomach. Try to eat your last meal at least 1-2 hours before bed, to allow your body's internal processes to slow down at the same time as you slow down.
Organize a Seasonal Meal Plan.
With busy schedules and additional activities eating up your time, spending a bit of extra time preparing for Fall meal plans is the best way to ensure you can still be getting the nutrition you need in this new season. In addition, the foods that are available and in-season are beginning to change compared to the foods that were in the summer. Eating foods that are grown in season give us the best opportunity to fuel our bodies with just what they need.
While different geographic regions offer different in-season produce, you may find more root vegetables like carrots, beets, turnips, and sweet potatoes, as well as apples, winter squash, pumpkin, collard greens, kale, broccoli, and onions available locally in the Fall. Incorporate these hearty and healthy foods into soups, warm salads, or roasts as much as possible this season.
Set aside some time, either on a weekend before your week begins or in early Fall, to find a few hearty and healthy Fall recipes that you can make throughout the season. When in a pinch, pull out these recipes.
Meal Prep. Spend some time on a Sunday afternoon prepping breakfasts, lunches, and/or dinner foods to enjoy throughout the week. You'll thank yourself later when you can grab something quick and healthy on the go!
Make Time for Friends and Family
While summer may have offered more opportunities to maintain our social sphere with backyard BBQs, park meetups, and time outside in the sun, the shifts in weather and routine of the Fall can make it easy for us to forget about our interactions with family and friends. But don't stress. Take some time to get your feet underneath you with a new routine and responsibilities this Fall, and then take steps towards this piece.
Social interactions have proven health benefits on our overall well-being, believe it or not. According to a study published by the Science journal, "strong social connection leads to a 50% increased chance of longevity, strengthens your immune system, helps you recover from disease faster", as well as offers other benefits. When it starts to seem easier to stay inside and away from your social sphere, counter your thinking and make the effort to meet up with family and friends.
Sign up for a regular yoga class at a studio or gym that allows you to interact with a group of people regularly.
Schedule in a regular "first Thursday night of the month" (etc.) gathering with your friends at a local restaurant or brewery.
Family and friends live far away? That's ok! Schedule Facetimes or phone calls regularly.
What ideas do you have for preparing yourself for Fall this year? Tweet us @annevangessel0
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