i love autumn. i love the leaves changing colors. brisk weather allows me to wear my sweater and scarves. i enjoy bundling up on the sofa with a cup of tea and a good book. but i also deal with, shall we call it the "darker side" that fall brings with it. it gets darker earlier and the lack of light can wear on me. the windier drier days cause my skin to dry out and my lips to chap. and i don't know about you all, but i get stressed out with the holidays. i try not to, but inevitably it happens.
in ayurveda, yoga's sister science there is the belief that the air element (vata dosha) is dominant both inside and outside our bodies during the autumn months. when the air element is over abundant inside ourselves it can manifest itself in different ways. you may feel spacey, become more anxious, experience insomnia, run out of energy more quickly. you may also deal with constipation, cramps, stiffness in the spine/joints, and/or dry skin. for most of us it's tough to feel grounded during this season. and did i mention that on top of all of this happening ~ there are the holidays where even the best intentioned folks may unravel a bit.
during this time, we want to do things to keep us grounded and calm us to work against the nature of autumn. i would like to list a few tools i've learned along the way or am learning to to use so as to nurture myself.
find a steady routine
during this time of year it's great if you can work with natures rhythm. yes, it can be hard to do during this time of rushing around, but once you get into a steady routine, you will start to notice the benefits. try retiring every night by 10pm and getting up at 6am. if not these times, be regular with the ones that work for you. try to find regular times for your meals.
protect and moisturize
when going outside into the cold air cover up your head, ears, and neck. it protects your skin from drying out as well as potentially preventing you from getting a chill or a cold. soothe dry skin by putting on sweet almond oil or a moisturizing cream of your choice and then taking a warm bath or shower. it's soothing, grounding, and insulating. you can also do this after a bath/shower, but if you do use old towels to dry off to prevent the oil getting on your favorite ones. i have added lavender essential to my sweet almond oil and apply most evenings before i go to bed. you get the moisturizing effect for the skin as well as the calming effect of the lavender for the central nervous system.
choose foods that nourish
now is a great time to cut down on iced, cold, and fried foods. these foods speed up and agitate the nervous system, making it difficult to digest. warm, moist, heavy foods will soothe and heat you. fall is a great time for fresh and hot stews, soups, and porridge at mealtimes. and back to the steady routine bit ~ fall is not a good time to go for long periods without eating. find regular meal times and find times to snack in between. it is also the season of herbal teas. yes herbal, remember that caffiene is a stimulant and aggravates the central nervous system and can cause extra stress and dehydration. i'm not telling you to cut it out completely, but to be careful when and how much of it you have.
engage in light activity
find an activity that you can do every day that helps ground, warm, and comfort you. whether your activity is yoga, walking, jogging, etc..... use this time to do this activity a little lighter than usual. fall is a time of depletion and agitation. if you overwork the body it upsets the nervous system. you should relax the muscles in your activity so the mind slows down and so that the body does not get depleted, but rather rejuvenated. so for those who are used to a hard core workout, use fall to slow down a bit and notice the benefits that come from that.
fall is not a good time to start new projects, and we should also avoid such distractions as over-scheduling, fast driving, and loud music. carve out boundaries for rest and relaxation. that’s the most important thing you can do for yourself this season.
and when dealing with holidays (thanksgiving it tomorrow folks), approach them slowly and humbly. know you cannot control everything and you don't need to prove yourself to anyone. it's okay to walk outside or into the other room for 10 minutes and take a "pause". you will come back calmer and everyone will be grateful for it. surround yourselves with loved ones and remember the love they have shown you as well as the love you show them. and of course find something to be grateful for. especially in those moments we are not grateful for ~ in those moments think of something you ARE grateful for.
have a wonderful thanksgiving and namaste (my spirit bows to yours)!
"gratitude is the intention to count-your-blessings every day, every minute, while avoiding, whenever possible, the belief that you need or deserve different circumstances."
- timothy miller