This month I am back in the UK visiting my family after 1 year away living in Greece and it is clear that the autumn season 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 the winter months. 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. With the rapid changes in temperature and humidity, our physical bodies need to adapt and this unpredictability can exaggerate imbalances already present. In Aryuveda, it is said that autumn is the season of the vata dosha which represents the element of air with it’s dry, cold and erratic qualities. To keep yourself well during autumn, you want to balance this out with warming and grounding routines as part of your healthy lifestyle. In this article I want to share my top tips on nutrition, exercise and self-care to stay healthy during the autumn months!
What to eat to stay healthy in autumn
As the temperatures start to dip, you want to keep your body warm from the inside by eating nourishing, hearty meals. It is natural to experience a slight increase in appetite and a craving for heavier, more grounding meals in autumn so don’t be afraid to listen to your body! Make sure to include plenty of healthy oils and fats in your diet 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 delicious warming herbal tea with a spoonful of local honey for a healthy and hydrating drink.
Autumn is also an amazing season for fresh produce so make the most of autumn seasonal vegetables including beets, parsnips, squash, carrots, aubergine, broccoli and brussels sprouts to supply your body with a variety of vitamins and minerals from the soil. Vitamin C and B complex 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 including 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. BBC Good Food has some amazing autumn recipes, including this autumn fruit pudding and this apple and blackberry crumble.
Root vegetables, such as beets, parsnips and carrots, are especially nourishing foods for the autumn season as they are a great source of complex carbohydrates to keep you warm and energised. They are grown underground and 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 and blending them with warming spices to create a delicious autumn vegetable soup.
Exercise tips for the autumn season
It’s natural to feel an energy dip at the end of the summer, especially if you have been making the most of the sunny days and short nights. As autumn approaches, you might start to feel more lazy and crave a slower pace of life and the comfort of being warm and cosy at home. 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 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 during this time. It’s so easy these days to live disconnected from nature, 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, 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 are common in the winter months and 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 throughout autumn and winter. 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 as it 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 you want to 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 as it gets your blood flowing and warms up your body from the inside out to keep you toasty on cold days. Try out this 10 minute guided sun salutation practice by Yoga with Adriene first thing in the morning for 7 days and notice the change in your overall wellbeing.
Self-care ideas for the 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, that is going to bed and waking up at about the same time each day, 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, 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 also 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 and with that we let go of the summer as well as anything else that doesn’t serve us. Autumn is a time of new starts and can be a time to re-evaluate and take stock of what is working in your life and what you would like to change.
Finally one of my favourite self-care routines for chilly autumn nights is to take an Epsom salt bath and 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 or if baths aren’t your thing, 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 of the salts. Make this a true autumn spa experience by lighting a candle scented with ginger, cinnamon, cedarwood or sage.
To summarise, 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. Just a few simple changes to the food that you eat, the way that you move your body and finding time for relaxing and nourishing self-care will make a huge difference to how you feel during autumn. And don’t forget, everything is connecting and taking care of yourself during the autumn months will strengthen your immune system and set you up to stay healthy during the winter months too!
Over to you…
I hope you enjoyed this post on keeping healthy during the autumn season. Please like and share this post to support my business and follow my blog for more useful posts on nutrition, yoga and holistic health.
If you are looking for guidance, support and accountability to transform your health and rediscover your natural energy and radiance, please contact me or check out the nutrition and health coaching packages I offer. I would love to work together with you to move past any health blocks and get you feeling your best again!