In today’s post I want to share my top tips for staying healthy during autumn season. I am back in the UK after a year living in Greece and it is clear that autumn has arrived! Fresh mornings, mild, dry days and dark, cold nights are fast approaching. Actually, although I love the summer energy, the autumn season is probably my favourite. I love the beautiful colours and the feeling of cosiness that it brings.
Autumn is a season of transition, from the heat and activity of the summer into the cold and stillness of winter. It is also a season of celebration and harvest, when traditionally we give thanks for the earth’s abundance and gather our supplies. However, it’s also a season when it is easy to feel unwell if we don’t watch out. Our bodies need to adapt to rapid changes in temperature and humidity and this unpredictability can exaggerate imbalances already present.
In Aryuveda, it is said that autumn is the season of the vata dosha. Vata represents the element of air with it’s dry, cold and erratic qualities. Therefore, to stay healthy during autumn, you want to balance this out with warming and grounding routines. In this article I want to share top nutrition, exercise and self-care habits for a healthy autumn season.
What to eat to stay healthy in autumn
As the temperatures start to dip, keep your body warm from the inside by eating nourishing, hearty meals. It is natural to experience an increase in appetite and cravings for heavier, grounding meals in autumn. So don’t be afraid to listen to your body! Make sure to eat plenty of healthy oils and fats to keep your skin, hair and joints nourished and protected against the cold. Warming spices such as turmeric, chili, ginger and cumin are also great as they support your digestion and metabolism. Add them to soups and curries or make a herbal tea with a spoonful of local honey for a delicious, warming drink.
Autumn is also an amazing season for fresh produce. Make the most of autumn seasonal vegetables including beets, parsnips, squash, aubergine, broccoli and brussels sprouts to supply your body with a variety of vitamins and minerals from the soil. Vitamins C and B are especially important during autumn to boost your immune system and energy levels so eat up! In the northern hemisphere, you will start to see an abundance of seasonal fruits. Look out for apples, pears, grapes, plums and berries. Enjoy this bounty by eating fresh fruits daily as a dessert or snack. Or get creative and turn them into pies, puddings and jams.
Healthy autumn recipes
BBC Good Food has some amazing autumn recipes, including this autumn fruit pudding and this apple and blackberry crumble. I also love this collection of healthy autumn recipes on the Sainsbury’s website. I am not much of a recipe creator myself but I love good food and trying out new meals each week!
Root vegetables, such as beets, parsnips and carrots, are especially nourishing foods for the autumn season. They are a great source of complex carbohydrates to keep you warm and energised. The name root vegetable comes from the fact that they are are grown underground. This gives them a grounding, satisfying quality which we need in the autumn months. Root vegetables are typically high in vitamins A, B and C and beets are also a plant-based source of iron. They are packed with fibre and have a natural sweetness that can help to curb cravings for processed sweets.
Try roasting a tray of chunky chopped vegetables to bring out this natural sweetness. Then blend the roasted vegetables with warming spices to create a delicious autumn vegetable soup. This butternut squash and red pepper soup is one of my autumn favourite healthy autumn recipes.
Exercise tips to stay healthy in autumn season
It’s natural to feel an energy dip after the summer, especially if you have been making the most of the long, sunny days. As autumn approaches, you might start to feel more lazy and crave a slower pace of life and home comforts. Again, don’t be afraid to listen to your body! Take rest when you need to and give yourself chance to recharge your batteries and restore your energy levels. This doesn’t mean to give up altogether on moving your body. It just means going a little bit easier on your self and allowing your body rather than your mind to dictate the pace.
One of my favourite ways to stay active in autumn is to go for hikes or walks out in nature. It feels amazing to wrap up warm and head out in the fresh air to see all of the beautiful colours. Especially as the green of summer transitions into the warm yellow, orange and red hues of the autumn season. Walking in the forest, mountains or in a park is a great way to ground yourself and connect with the earth. It’s so easy these days to live disconnected from nature when we are surrounded by artificial environments and technology. But getting outdoors and being mindful of the changes that each season brings is a great way to stay healthy during autumn. That is for your mind, body and spirit!
Getting natural sunlight on your skin is also important to maintain healthy vitamin D levels. Low levels of vitamin D can lead to low mood, fatigue and aches and pains. Supporting your body to continue producing vitamin D during autumn will mean you head into winter with higher stores. If you feel like you don’t get enough natural light where you live, consider taking a vitamin D supplement. The recommended daily amount for overall health is 400IU so look for a supplement with up to this amount to keep your levels topped up.
Yoga is another perfect activity for the autumn season. Practicing yoga asana and pranayama keeps you fit, strong and flexible and also supports a healthy immune system and circulation. The cold and dry qualities of the vata dosha in autumn can bring with it respiratory problems, cold extremities and stiff muscles and joints. So incorporate movement into your healthy lifestyle to encourage heat and energy flow throughout your body. Practicing yoga sun salutations is a great way to start your day in the autumn season. It gets your blood flowing and creates heat in your body to keep you toasty on cold days!
Try out this 10 minute guided sun salutation practice first thing in the morning for 7 days and notice the change in your overall wellbeing.
Self-care ideas for a healthy autumn
As I mentioned earlier, autumn brings with it a sense of change and transition. If we are not cautious, this can catch us out and trigger anxiety, worry and restlessness. Especially if we are not eating a nourishing, grounding diet and incorporating self-care routines to help us feel more grounded and stable. This could look like keeping to a regular sleep schedule and creating space in the morning to breathe and be mindful at the start of your day. Take a look at my previous post morning routine checklist to boost your mood and energy for some ideas.
Keeping a journal is a great way to stay organised during the autumn season. A journal practice helps you to manage any feelings that come up and to keep track of the healthy habits you want to incorporate to keep you feeling your best. You can use your journal as a space for reflection, to gather your thoughts and feelings and to explore any changes you might want to make in your life. In autumn, the leaves start to fall from the trees. With that we let go of the summer as well as anything else that doesn’t serve us. Autumn can be a time to re-evaluate and take stock of what is working in your life and what you would like to change.
Epsom salt baths
Finally, one of my favourite self-care routines for chilly autumn nights is to take an Epsom salt bath. Then afterwards to apply oil or moisturiser to my skin to keep it protected and hydrated. Epsom salts contain magnesium which is absorbed through the skin and helps to relax your muscles and release tension. If you don’t have a bath at home, try a mini Epsom salt foot spa instead. Warming your feet helps to warm and relax your whole body and you will still absorb the benefits. Make this a true autumn spa experience by lighting a candle scented with ginger, cinnamon, cedarwood or sage.
The autumn season is a time when you want to nourish yourself, stay warm and hydrated and to take care of your physical and mental wellbeing. A few simple changes to the food that you eat, how you move your body and nourish yourself with self-care will make a huge difference to how you feel during autumn. Don’t forget, everything is connected! Taking care of yourself during the autumn months will strengthen your immune system and set you up to stay healthy during the winter too!
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