It’s officially autumn, I can now cheer about this … finally. I’ve not always felt like this. We all have seasons that we love & bask in, for me its summer; camping near the beach for weeks and weeks … and weeks. The children becoming more & more feral & growing in confidence, sun-kissed faces, salty hair, campfires with friends & very lose daily routines. And then autumn (feel the doom & gloom background music), for me always heralded the start of 'The Dark Time' & winter galloping towards me. How many of you know this feeling?
Fast forward to a change in mindset & embracing seasonal living.
By seasonal I mean, the natural rhythms of the year, the months, the weather & the necessity of these patterns for us & the land. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still tricky for me, but the easiest way to navigate through autumn and prepare for winter is by Practicing Self-care. Yes, making time, for some of us its carving out time, to do things that make us happy & engage our endorphins or calm our minds. Here are my top self-care joys & tips.
1. Get in it, get out there.
Oh yes, put your boots on, pull on a coat get outside for some Nature Bathing. In your garden, park or on a walk, be present & really focus on what nature is doing, the colour changes of the trees, the air as it hits your nose, your mouth & your lungs. Kick the fallen leaves like you’re still a kid, hear that crunch? Take photographs if it’s your thing. An autumn walk is a time to slow down, to reflect, to make plans & most importantly to be in your moment. The Japanese prescribe Shinrin Yoku or Forest Bathing all year round as a part of their mental wellbeing & as a part of their preventative health care.
2. Cook, Bake, Nourish
Changing seasons equals changing the food we eat. This seems like a lot of common sense, but with supermarkets offering the same fruit & vegetables all year round, its hard to think seasonal food when we’re not sure what actually is in season? I always advocate eating local & eating as seasonally as possible. This doesn’t mean swapping out salads, but it does mean ‘reinventing’ them. Counteract the cooler temperatures by warming cold food up; hot salads, spicy smoothies, seasonal veg juices with garlic. And remember how much fun baking is? There is something satisfying about chard & feta muffins coming out of the oven or a banana loaf or a spiced apple cake. Salivating just thinking about these baked goods! I’ll be posting my autumnal favourite recipes over the next few days.
3. Autumnal essential oils
There are some essential oils that just smell superb in autumn. Why? Because they are warming, they are evocative of nature, happy memories & thoughts & they have a cleansing element to them. My autumn go too oils are bergamot, orange, patchouli & eucalyptus. Others that tickle the senses are sandalwood, cinnamon & nutmeg. Try adding peppermint & teatree oils to a thick body lotion or body butter & applying to tired feet.
4. Soak in a bath
The luxury of soaking in a bath is something that I have to make happen. I’m a shower kind of girl, wash, dressed, ready. But I love the ceremony of running a bath, lighting a candle or reading a book & adding those essential oils which make my body sigh. For relaxing oils, I love lavender & ylang-ylang, 5 drops of each.
5. Sort out your wardrobe
Summer is ebbing & its time for a costume change. Get out & go through your warmer clothes. Sort out what fits & doesn’t from last year, what you still like & don't, re-heal your boots & dry-clean coats. Look at what needs to be added to your wardrobe; things which will make you feel confident, comfortable & happy. A wardrobe declutter & reorganisation is something I need to be in the mood for, but once it’s done the satisfaction is enormous. I donate to second hand shops or clothing collectors, recycle old shoes & feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief at the space I’ve made.
(NB. Beautiful items that I can’t part with but will never wear again I have packaged into boxes for my daughter to rummage through when she hits her teens).
Autumn also inspires me towards different colours, I like that.
6. Get Creative!
Need a break from the tech & the tv? Autumns a great time to get creative & learn a new skill. Don’t laugh, I’ve taken up knitting. A long way to go before I get a perfect cardigan, but the family will be equipped with new scarves by Christmas. The children have found an origami book, I feel like there is a lot of paper folding fun coming my way. But seriously, think about taking up or restarting a creative hobby that you are rewarded by.
With all of the above tips & moments of self-care it's also important to recognise that every season has its celebration. Autumn’s celebration is Halloween or what our ancestors called Samhain. Traditionally, this is a day to feast now the harvest is in, play games & make merry. For me these markers in the year are important. They acknowledge the time, the season & are great fun. They are also a tipping point of foods ebbing and changing & nourishing ourselves for the season. For our family, its feasting & trick or treating with the children. For me, it’s a personal meditation & feelings of gratitude for all that I am, have & will be.
I hope these ideas around autumn self-care have inspired you to make time, create, organise and be a part of the rhythm of the season. Remember, autumn is the start of the rest time. Take time to relax & regenerate after the summer. Nature does.
Paula is an avid writer and enjoys working with food and words.