10 Best Practices To Prevent Setbacks & Generate Vitality In Autumn
“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.” – Jim Bishop
Autumn can be a time of great vulnerability if we don’t pay attention. By the time we start to notice the shorter days and cooler nights heralding the coming fall and winter seasons, we may already be suffering more physical and emotional challenges than we felt during summer months.
Work and home stress often increase in the fall whether or not we have children or work within a school system. Vacation’s over and it’s “back to school” or “back to work” mode for us all.
Exposure to viruses increase, and flu strains bloom around the globe. The cooler temps also require quite a bit more energy to be devoted to maintaining internal body heat, and many people – especially those who already struggle with fatigue – might feel it the most.
The cooler, cloudier, darker days mean less light, less sunshine, and hence less vitamin D production. It may also mean less energy and lightness in the mood, less sense of ease, and relaxed enjoyment of life.
In my 20 years of clinical practice, I can tell you that this transition from summer into fall is the toughest biological transition of the year. It is the most likely time of setbacks. It begins in early September, and can continue into November. By that time the body has acclimated to cooler temps and darker days.
But sometimes problems that develop in the fall are suffered all the way through winter, unless the body is properly supported in its repair, regeneration, and revitalizing mechanisms to overcome those new health issues or setbacks.
So if you tend to experience greater health challenges in the fall, here are my tips for keeping the health and vitality generation going throughout the fall and winter.
1. First and foremost, tune into your body! I can’t emphasize this daily, moment-to- moment practice enough. I would bet money that the vast majority of people who grow sicker in the fall are ignoring their body’s signals, for example for more rest, different foods, or to grow into an up-leveled way of handling life’s stressors.
2. If your body develops an aversion to raw foods, salads or fresh juices, reduce the amount you consume, but don’t drop these routines altogether. They are important all year round to maintain the highest possible energy levels, but need to be properly balanced with other warming foods and activities in the fall and winter.
3. Get on the bone broth bandwagon. I tend to drop this routine in the heat of summer, then excitedly return to it in the fall. I bake a whole (organic, free range) chicken once / week, which provides the meat for 2 family dinners, then the carcass gets simmered for 48 hours with sea salt and a splash of apple cider vinegar (and sometimes other fun stuff!). It’s easy. We drink the broth daily either plain or as the basis of a soup. To learn more, check out Making Medicinal Broths.
4. Drink lots of ginger tea – or turmeric, ginseng, cinnamon, or any other warming spices that you love love love. The possibilities here are endless. My simple routine is to simmer slices of fresh ginger (sometimes with ginseng root) in water on the stove. I often add a touch of honey plus squeeze a slice of lemon, and this goes into a thermos to keep me warm and happy throughout the day. It also fends off colds before they start!
5. Supplement with Vitamin D oil drops. My favorite is RxVitamins Liqui-D3. You want to maintain your vitamin D levels between the range of 50-80 for optimal immunity and disease resistance.
6. Bundle Up. Keep a light hat, scarf, and extra layer in your car, hand-bag, or back-pack. Dress more warmly than you think you need to, and especially cover up your neck and head on windy or rainy days. Protecting these areas of the body helps the immune system maintain resistance against the “external evils” – air-borne viruses and bacteria.
7. Appreciate autumn’s beauty, and connect in to its teachings. Have you ever stopped to ponder the massive letting go of leaves from the trees, or the incredible surge of inward-directed energy of the fall? Nature provides us with all of the physical tangibles we need to survive (like water, food, fire, and shelter), but also direct guidance for creating harmony in the inner world as well. Open your eyes and ears and look around. What wisdom does this season have to offer you?
8. Stay active. As soon as the temps drop below 70, don’t take this as an invitation to stay indoors until May. No, make a plan for how you will stay active this fall and winter. Schedule brisk walks, join a gym (you’d be surprised at how inexpensive this has become), or sign up for a regular yoga class. During the autumn and winter, the colder temps will make a stagnant body even more stagnant. Make a daily movement routine non-negotiable, if it isn’t already.
9. Leaf-catching is a must. When was the last time you tried to catch a falling leaf? I dare you to go outside right now and try. I promise you, it will bring more than a smile to your face.
10. Prioritize more quantity and better quality rest and relaxation. Energy conservation is a key ingredient to health during the fall and winter. Beginning in early fall, allow yourself to go to bed earlier, sleep longer hours, and do more restful, relaxing activities during the evening and weekends. Allow for more unscheduled time when you can curl up with a good book, take a hot bath, or spend time relaxing with friends.
When we can pro-actively prepare and harmonize our bodies with the changing season, it helps to prevent disease and symptom progression. It also creates far more ease and flow within your system so that your health and vitality can remain on an upswing even throughout the challenges of fall and winter.
Try all of these tips. Let me know what you think!