Many of us will experience conflicting feelings as one season closes and a new one begins. This is especially true in the transition from summer to autumn when we begin to slip into the colder months. Not only does the air begin to chill in autumn, but we often face rain showers and we have fewer daylight hours.
Many will mourn summer as the season comes to an end; The feeling of warmth on our skin, the light, the abundance of colour in nature, those long evenings and loose fitting clothes. Light and warmth don’t just feel good, they do us good. The increased strength of the sun and our eagerness to be outside means most of us get more vitamin D in summer.
Living in the UK we’re also never sure of when summer will come back or of how much of it we’ll get. Yet, the chillier seasons can play a part in our wellbeing too. So, whilst there are some challenges to staying well in autumn and winter, it is very possible to make the most of and even thrive in these months, if we do so consciously.
Here are my top 5 autumn wellness tips to help ease both your mind and body into the new season.
A Gentle Touch
Many people suffer from more sensitive skin as the weather changes, especially from warm to cooler. That sharpness in the air can be quite sudden and set our skin into a spiral. There is dampness in the air and mould in the air can also be created as leaves break down and this can trigger eczema and rosacea. So, stick to a simple skincare routine, drink plenty of water and consider an oil-based moisturiser since they are particularly good at locking in all the gorgeous moisture that cold weather threatens to strip from our skin. Exfoliate maybe twice a week to keep pores clear and avoid using anything with harsh chemicals in it.
If you suffer from rosacea then you probably know you should be wearing sunscreen due to your skin’s sensitivity. However, many rosacea sufferers wrongly assume that when the sun seemingly disappears there’s no longer a need to apply sun protection, which isn’t true. Those with hyperpigmentation or rosacea will benefit from using SPF all year round because even a sun hidden by clouds can still affect your skin. Learn more in my article How To Care For Rosacea-Prone Skin.
As skin may be more sensitive when the weather changes, you’ll want to be conscious of the fabrics you wear. Cotton provides a gentler touch than wool which can be an irritate. However, if you need something warmer then Merino wool has finer fibres. Hemp is a soft fabric option for vegans.
When the weather turns wetter and colder it can be tempting to stay indoors more and there’s nothing wrong with that - as long as you are still spending some time outside. Even when the sun is hidden or the air is cold, we still reap many benefits from being outdoors. In addition to vitamin D, we also get a boost of serotonin and melatonin which helps to keep our mood balanced and aids sleep.Taking an autumn walk is good gentle exercise but it may also help you to appreciate the season. Opt for places with lots of trees so you can enjoy the leaves changing colour. Embrace the colder weather as an opportunity to take more walks, get your blood circulating and your body working and prepare your skin also for the weather turning colder because the temperature will drop further in winter. Also, if you do consider turning the heating back on (and you should if you’re uncomfortably cold in your house), then it’s worth remembering that central heating can dry out the skin and hair too so, whilst spending days hauled up inside with heating and coffee and blankets is some nourishing and needed self-care, it’s also good for you to brave the elements fairly often.
Another good reason to get outside more is that we breathe better outdoors and when we breathe deeper not only do we release more of those happy hormones but we detoxify our bodies too. Outside air cleans the lungs, improves our mood, increases our energy and aids digestion.
There will be days when it’s too stormy, too windy or just too wet to venture out so make the most of the milder days and force yourself to take a walk, go for a bike ride or take part in another outdoor activity because you’ll feel better for it. Remember, hibernation periods can be healing but they only work if we have built up your resources beforehand, which means getting out in nature to take care of your mental and physical health whenever you have the chance.
Autumn Wellness At Home
You will probably be going out less, at least in the evenings, as the weather gets colder. After the long summer months when friends tend to be out and there are gatherings and beach days and holidays and picnics and such, many of us are actually a little relieved to spend more time at home. After all, it is where the heart is. More importantly, it’s where the central heating, the candles, the blankets and the TV remote are.
Whether you’re home alone or you have others you are living with, it’s important to embrace autumn creature comforts and take the time to slow down after what has likely been a busy summer. Creating the right atmosphere to feel peaceful in is going to help you to relax. Burning essential oils or lighting incense will fill your home with those calming scents and lowering the lighting and closing the curtains at night will make your space cosier. There’s nothing wrong with a TV series binge either but reading or doing something else that relaxes you such as craft or cooking can also be a good way to unwind and get into a meditative state.
You’ll want to keep active in winter but on those days when energy is harder to find, yoga or gentle pilates can be an awakening and gently rousing exercise that will release tension, let the breath flow through and keep your mind and body feeling connected. There are some wonderful online courses and many free videos by wonderful instructors on YouTube, such as Yoga with Adriene and Yoga with Kassandra.
I’m a firm believer that you can’t feel well unless you eat well. Everyone is different and our bodies react to differently to different foods but everybody can benefit from eating more fruit and vegetables and drinking plenty of water.
Water is so good for your skin because more than anything your skin needs hydration. We also use more energy keeping warm in Autumn and winter so we need to ensure that we’re feeding ourselves properly. Whilst many foods are filling you also need them to be high in nutrition so be mindful of balancing your meals. Look particularly for foods that boost energy over a longer period such as nuts, fruit and legumes.
Not everyone enjoys cooking but if you do, make time for it more in the colder months. It’s an act of love to make warm, nutritious and flavourful meals. This being, many single people, or those who often end up cooking for themselves, lose interest, which is a shame because cooking can be an act of self-love too and you and your body deserve this.
If you don’t have much time for cooking when you get home in the evenings, consider a slow cooker or batch cooking at the weekends so you can enjoy healthy home-cooked dinners after work without the fuss.
You may want to also consider eating more seasonally. The taste tends to be better, food will be fresher and it’s better for the planet. Fruit and veg boxes from Riverford and other grow and deliver services can help support this too.
Those with sensitive skin might be mindful of foods that can cause heat in the gut, including garlic, onions and chillies, since this may encourage or exacerbate skin issues. Eczema sufferers may also consider reducing their dairy intake too as it can have a similar effect.
Start Something New
It can be easy to become despondent and demotivated in the colder months. Many of us will leave home in the morning in darkness and return home in darkness and this can feel like a long never-ending cycle. Introducing new hobbies, starting projects and finding new interests will help to keep your spirits up in the darker months. This can distract us from those things that might bring our mood down in Autumn and keep us exploring curiosity, developing skills and working towards something that stimulates and nurtures the soul.
It seems unfair that spring has earned the title of new beginnings because, although much of nature may retreat during the colder months, human beings cannot and we need to keep sparking our creativity and pursuing interests. These can be anything really - baking, art, an online course, etc. It may also be good to combine this with getting out of the house and staying social. For example, you might join a book club, a sip and paint class, a dance class or even an amateur theatre group.
Starting something new can be an uplifting experience and enhance wellness in the Autumn.
What might you start doing this Autumn?