As Autumn descends and the leaves fall, our own physical and mental states begin to go through seasonal changes, too. If you’re not careful, a true witch’s brew of toil and trouble await. So pay close attention to how shorter days, lowering temperatures, and rain impacts our mood. The Fall can also contribute to a wide range of illnesses. These include insomnia, irritability, headaches, and digestive issues.
All the more reason to make sure we are spending at least as much time on self-comfort, as we are on self-care. That’s because adapting to Autumn can lead to fatigue of the body. In fact, Autumn can affect our overall balance more than we imagine.
The Twilight Zone
As bewitching as an early twilight may seem, look again! Fewer daylight hours makes us more subject to mild states of anxiety and melancholy. In this spooky season of skeletons, the influence of the sun can also be seen on a physical level. That’s because UV rays stimulate the production of vitamin D, which is useful to bones. Sunlight also stimulates the production of serotonin, helps muscle relaxation and balances our biological rhythms. Less light darkens our mood.
That’s why, even when the days become shorter, it is important to treat yourself to more soothing time spent outdoors. Try to work in a leisurely walk, hike, or bike ride during the week. Think of it as a way of “stocking up” on light. The sun’s bag of goodies allow the body to produce melanin during the night. Melanin improves the quality of sleep and acts directly on your body’s hormonal balance.
“Weather” or Not
Changes in temperature and light also affect the immune system, almost playing tricks on it. Long before COVID, you probably remember in past Falls, how common it was to show symptoms of colds and flu, (“seasonal illnesses”). The last thing we need is prolonged fatigue, with a side helping of apathy. You can combat them both with equal measures of self-comfort and self-care. Think of them as aiding in the response that our body gives to outside stresses when the weather requires us to put in extra effort to adapt.
Choose warm bubble baths, pedicures, and massages over curling up on the couch with Halloween candy binging old TV shows. All that sugar can throw your self-comfort into a tizzy. As grandma used to say: Enjoy some candy, but don’t let it go to “waist!” If caring for yourself turns into distracting or numbing or avoiding, it’s time to pause. Always check in with yourself — what are you really craving in those moments?
Ask “whether” you really need it. And “whether” you need self-comfort or self-care in that moment. When you need comfort — you’re craving warmth, pleasure, a break. Pamper yourself by following your body’s yearning for “feeling good.” When you need care — you’re craving self-respect, connection, alignment.
Fall Into Healthy Habits
Treat yourself with kindness and honor your strengths and values. Follow your heart’s yearning for “doing good.” Write in your journal. Have a soulful chat with your best friend. Declare your gratitude. Gaze at the stars on a crystal clear night.
Let’s not forget that Autumn is a season in which nature offers the great beauty of her golden crown. Spectacular colors and healthy foods of exceptional quality abound. Mushrooms – including truffles – pumpkin, grapes, sweet figs and more are in season. Enjoy these guilt-free treats.
Care for Your Mind – While Comforting Your Body
With the transition to Autumn, our body makes very clear demands on us. But don’t overlook the signals that the mind is sending us, too. Well-being is achieved when body and mind are both healthy and in balance. The best approach to the change of season involves taking self-care and self-comfort of the entire body and soul.
If You’ve Got It – Haunt It
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is real. It can cause fatigue, poor concentration, nausea, irritability and decreased desire. Any one of which can disrupt our ability to get out and enjoy life. Recognizing moods and emotions can be more difficult with masks on, but it’s necessary to stay in touch with yourself. Make an effort to evaluate your general well-being, so you can activate and remedy the discomforts you feel. Don’t forget to look in on your friends and neighbors, too. They may be feeling lost. It’s always easier to get out of a maze together, through teamwork.
The peak of Fall doesn’t have to be scary. Just treat it with respect while treating yourself to the self-care AND self-comfort you need. And don’t forget to carve out some time for fun along the way!
by Mark Smith, contributing author
We are all working our way through a changed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We may no longer be quarantined or under stay-at-home orders, but everyone is stretched to adapt like never before. All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us in our communities. Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before. This is a great opportunity to create the world we want for our future generations. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement!