The energy of autumn is dry and cool, a time of harvesting and storing. By embracing the transitional season of Autumn, we have opportunities to prepare for Winter. With seasonal changes impacting the mind and body, we can look to nature for direction. As plants and animals begin to slow down, conserving energy to stay hardy throughout the winter, so should we. During the colder months the respiratory system is particularly vulnerable and digestion slows down, so it’s important to increase the body’s resilience. We want to bring balance to our bodies with luscious food and herbs and mindful habits.
Eat from the abundance of late summer/early fall harvest, including root vegetables: carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, beets, garlic, horseradish, onions, and greens that thrive in Fall weather: chard, kale, and spinach. These plants are rich in vitamins C, A, B and K, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese, all of which will help with energy and support immune response. Don’t underestimate the antibacterial power of garlic and onions; these potent garden veggies will boost your immune system and help keep nasties at bay. Many of these foods are warming to the body, which will both aid circulation and keep the digestive energy flowing.
Stock your kitchen apothecaries with herbs for fall and winter. Herbs such as mullein, thyme, elecampane, elderberry and elderflower, ginger, nettle, peppermint, echinacea root, dandelion root, marshmallow, and spices like cinnamon, clove and cardamom are helpful to combine into an appropriate tea blend for a daily immune tonic and respiratory tonic. Fall is a drying season, so herbal teas not only help with nutrients and system supports, room temperature and warm beverages add much needed humidity to keep our bodies in balance.
Also beneficial to have on hand are Elderberry Syrup and Fire Cider. Both are concentrated tonics that offer potent support and are convenient to consume. Elderberry syrup is known for its antiviral and antibacterial properties; studies have shown that it actually shortens the duration of colds and flu by as much as four days. Plus it’s naturally high in vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, iron, potassium, and other essential nutrients. Fire cider is a traditional folk remedy for staving off fall and winter ailments such as cold and flu. Fire Tonic is made by stewing raw apple cider vinegar, honey, herbs, and hot peppers together to form a wellness tonic with a little bit of heat. It also contains horseradish and ginger, which act to naturally clear mucus from the body
The changing of the seasons can also affect our sleep patterns. Autumn’s shorter daylight hours may leave some people feeling sluggish or more tired than usual. This could be because light impacts the secretion of melatonin, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle. The decrease in exposure to daylight increases the body’s production of melatonin, which in turn can cause a person to feel sleepy. Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night and exposing yourself to natural light during the day may help counter these effects. While the shorter days and colder temperatures might tempt you to stay indoors, spending at least 30 minutes outside in natural light each day will promote wakefulness and ultimately help you sleep better at night.
While you’re out there soaking up some sunlight, why not take a brisk walk? Bundling up and going outside in the fall and winter is excellent for your health and well-being, and it also helps you stay in touch with nature and the changing seasons. Walking or running can also be great stress relievers during the busy holiday and travel seasons.
Taking a few extra steps in the kitchen and our daily routines this Autumn will help us head into winter with the mindset of self care and prevention. Tending to our diets, exercise, and rest patterns will help us move through these seasons with ease.