Some parts of Australia are experiencing one of the most beautiful seasons of the year- autumn. While Brisbane glowed in 30 degree heat today, here in the Central Highlands there is no doubt that the seasons have changed. Cooler temperatures, rainfall, mists and the beauty of rust coloured leaves herald the new season.
Julia Richards is a qualified medicinal herbalist living in Yorkshire in the UK. She has been a regular feature writer for Viva 70. A collection of her excellent articles can be found in the Living Well Section of this mag. This month she looks at wellness in the season of autumn.
Harvest, falling leaves, cooler, shorter and darker days. This is Autumn, if you are in the Southern hemisphere. Taking our cue from nature, this is a season of celebration, preparation and letting go. The bounty of harvest is celebrated and traditionally food has been preserved in readiness for winter. In this current world crisis, if you have any surplus produce from your garden this is the time to google preserving recipes and hit the kitchen. It’s also more important than ever, to celebrate what we DO have. Many plants shed their leaves and create seeds for new growth in spring. Animals too start to gather and store food supplies.
Aligning our tasks, environment, diet, exercise and mind set with the seasons helps bring balance to our lives through the rhythm of the seasons and therefore helps prevent burn out and the stress that isolation may be bringing you. If you didn’t see our Spring article last October here it is. Whilst Spring was about taking action after winter’s hibernation, during Autumn we focus on reaping, that is, reflecting on our recent activities, celebrating the successes and letting go of things that no longer serve us. Our diet and exercise should focus on building resilience to prepare us for a healthy winter ahead. This is going to be vitally important this winter.
Work and life projects
In Autumn, life has finished it’s spring / summer growth spurt and everything is starting to turn inward. The cooler weather, shorter days and the current home isolation (or retreating for wellness as I like to think of it) make it an ideal time for reflection, self discovery and planning.
Things to do:
- Make time for regular reflection. This can be done by: sitting comfortably in a pleasant environment in your home or garden and thinking; going for a walk; having a bath; writing in a journal; or talking to a partner or friend ( on the phone or a video link of course) about things to keep doing, change or start anew. There are some great questions to ask yourself here.
Or simply ask yourself when life returns to ‘normal’ after this crisis, which things do you want to rush back to and which things to do want to let go of?
- Start a meditation practice. This may give you insights for new growth in Spring, after the end of lockdown or help you stay calm during this crisis. Try the apps Headspace, Calm or Deepak Chopra and Oprah’s 21 Day meditation experience.
- Start a gratitude journal. The benefits are numerous and essential in the current crisis. You can read about them For tips on keeping a gratitude journal, see here.
- Start new hobbies / projects. Make time for activities that bring you joy. Google online craft, language or subject matter courses. Lots of people are offering free or reduced fee online classes at the moment. Any supplies can be ordered online. Get googling and see what you can find.
We are all homebound at the moment, so make your home as beautiful and cosy as you can with what you already have.
Move things around. Start to make things more snug and cosy ready for cooler weather. Movement of items helps increase positive energy and decrease the negative. If you don’t fancy moving furniture, why not try moving your art, ornaments and plants around to different locations or rooms.
Light candles. These represent fire and will add warm energy to your environment. Bees wax and soy candles are best for your health. I also have many fairy lights around the house to create warmth.
Add warm colours. Add some Autumn colours to your environment to warm it. You can do this with cushions, throws, flowers, table décor, towels etc. See what you might have in your cupboards.
Add metal. Though this might seem cold, it is the Feng Shui element for Autumn and thus it brings positive energy to your home. Add it via metal objects, oval shaped objects (this shape represents metal) and the colours of silver, grey and black. These contrast nicely with the oranges, reds, yellows and browns of warm Autumn colours.
Eat warming seasonal foods. As the weather gets cooler balance your body with warming foods to help prevent winter illness. Limit raw salads and cold drinks. Try eating more of the following if you can get them:
- Root vegetables: sweet potato, carrots, squash, pumpkin
- Whole grains: quinoa, brown rice, oats and millet
- Legumes: beans, chickpeas, lentils, soybeans
- Green vegetables: broccoli, spinach, kale, celery, rocket and artichokes
- Fruit: pomegranates, apples, pears citrus fruits
- Fish: cod, haddock, sole, sea bass
- Herbs: cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, turmeric, ginger, raw garlic, rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano, marjoram and dill.
Drink herbal teas. The ritual of making tea aligns you to the slower pace of Autumn as well as being therapeutic. Sipping a warm cup of tea is also a good way to incorporate regular reflective time into your schedule. Prepare your immune system for winter with immune supporting teas such as Elderberry, Echinacea, Elecampane, Thyme and Oregano. As Autumn is a transitional season, adaptogenic herbs can be benefical. Consult a herbalist to find the most appropriate one for you. Many herbalist’s are offering phone or video consultations at the moment.
Take Vitamin D. D3 or cholecalciferol is best as it is the natural form of vitamin D that your body makes from sunlight. It’s essential during cooler weather when sun is often lacking because it helps with, amongst other things, normal immune functioning.
Get some fresh Autumn air. Enjoy walking through leaves if you can. Thirty minutes of walking daily can have a positive impact on your physical and mental health, even if this is a few laps around your own backyard.
Keep socialising virtually. As we move out of the extroverted, yang energy of summer and into the quieter yin energy of autumn and winter, it’s important to keep social for balance. Make online coffee and dinner dates with friends – each of you can prepare your own drink and / or meal and then sit down together over one of the video mediums such as FaceTime, Skype, Zoom etc. You can even play games together. See here for ideas.
Stay safe and healthy and watch this space for tips on how to work with the other seasons as they emerge
Always check with a qualified health professional for contraindications to your current health and medications.