Now the clocks have gone back, the leaves are falling, and the nights are getting colder, Autumn has officially arrived. With it comes the chance to review our health, and start making changes to honour the new season, and ensure we stay healthy and happy.
Here are my Autumn Wellness tips
1. Vitamin D
As the weather gets cooler, we tend to spend more time indoors and wrapped up, so getting enough vitamin D to stay healthy and happy becomes harder. Look to increase your vitamin D intake by including fish, eggs, pork, mushrooms, and ricotta cheese in your diet.
If you find you are struggling, taking a supplement will help to boost your mood and protect your immune system. New research from the Queen Mary University published in the British Medical journal found that women taking vitamin D supplements could help to prevent infection from the cold and flu viruses.
2. Letting go
The tress shedding their leaves are showing us it’s ok to let go! Stress is created when we try to control everything around us, so take a lead from Autumn, just breathe and let it go.
Being aware of your emotions at this time of year can be tricky, the darker nights can increase feelings of sadness, grief or depression. Yoga and meditation can help some, talking to friends can help others.
Start a wellness journal and track your moods. Note all the things you are grateful for, and jot down any worries you may have. Writing them down will help you to let go, and will improve your sleep, stress levels and happiness over the winter months.
Sleep is one of the best things we can do to protect our immune system and keep us fighting the winter blues. So, take advantage of the shorter days and longer nights, and get 30-60 minutes more sleep!
Keep your sleep on track; aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day in order to reset your body clock, and honour the change by aligning bedtime with the natural sunrise and sunset. Adults should be getting around 8-10 hours a night in order to keep us happy and healthy.
4. Get Social
It’s easy to stay in and hibernate when the weather gets cold and the dark nights creep in. However, research has shown that our health can benefit from staying socially active. In a study of Europeans over the age of 50 by Sirven and Debrand in 2008 found that people who participated in social or community activities were more likely to report good or very good health.
Make sure you still get out to meet friends, do your usual exercise class and keep up your hobbies. Having something to look forward to keeps those happy thoughts firing.
Think about clearing out your wardrobe or the kitchen cupboards. A clean and clear environment means a clean and clear mind, so use the time indoors to sort through anything you don’t want or need anymore and give it to charity.
Clutter has a profound effect on our mood and self-esteem, and a link has been found between stress levels in female home owners and a high density of household objects – the more stuff, the more stressed women feel!
Letting go of clutter can be difficult as there is so often emotions and memories attached. Keep things that inspire you, but get rid of anything that has negative emotions such as guilt attached to it. The benefits of a lighter life will far outweigh the negatives, so learn to let go (see point 2).
6. Feed your brain
Reading boosts your mental health, and who doesn’t like cosying up in front of the fire with a good book? Reading a good book can help you to de-stress, sleep better, and have more empathy for others.
No matter how much stress you have at work, or in your personal relationships, you can always lose yourself in a good book. A great fantasy can take you to new worlds, and a well written article can distract you and keep you focused on the moment. Reading spiritual texts can lower blood pressure, and bring about a sense of calm, whilst self-help books can help with improving your mood and mental health.
7. Protect your Immune system
At this time of year, everyone seems to be sniffing and coughing, so you should take steps to protect yourself. Wash your hands regularly, especially when being out in public places, get plenty of rest and eat healthy foods, preferably that are in season.
If you do get a cold, then as well as getting plenty of rest, try drinking soothing Echinacea tea, lemon and ginger infused in warm water, and stock up on chicken and/or vegetable soup, which contain all the nutrients your immune system needs to get back on track.
8. Stay active
Autumn is a lovely time to be outside. The weather is crisp but not overly cold, the trees are turning beautiful shades of red, oranges and browns, and there’s plenty to do before winter arrives.
Have a game of football with the kids, go for a bike ride, run around your local park, or walk around your local beauty spots. Take in the sights, sounds and smells of the Autumn air. You could even try your hand at Photography to see if you can capture the natural and colourful beauty of the season before the tress lose all their leaves.
"Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile" - William Cullen Byrant