While many of us are familiar with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression commonly known as the winter blues, did you know autumn anxiety is actually a thing?
The term was first coined by Welsh Thought Field therapist Gillian Scully, after she noticed common symptoms of anticipation and anxiety in her clients, including herself.
While the changing seasons are not felt quite as harshly in the southern hemisphere as in the north, adjusting to, and working with the seasons is an essential part of your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Here’s a guide to making autumn your friend.
Choose foods that are seasonal which means they’re freshest. If your local farmers’ market doesn’t guide you as to what’s in season, consult with an online guide which breaks it down by city. You’re helping the farmer as well as your wallet so it’s win win.
Root vegetables like beetroot, sweet potato, carrot are excellent ingredients for roasted or slow cooked dishes at this time of year.
Integrative nutrition health coach Tara Doherty says eating seasonally has a multitude of benefits – the food tastes better, is more nutrient dense, fresher and cheaper in price.
“Eating seasonally has a very positive impact on our gut bacteria and therefore our overall physical and mental health. And when we eat seasonally, we are also eating locally, so it’s far better for the planet.”
When it comes to the seasons, all exercise is not created equal and there is significant benefit in adapting your fitness routine to suit the climate.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), autumn is associated with the lungs and large intestine. It’s a time to breathe deeply and flood our cells and brains with essential oxygen for our bodies.
A long walk in the fresh autumn air, preferably in the bush or at least in a park, is perfect for filling your lungs, getting some sunshine and connecting with nature. Switch this for a bike ride and the health benefits will be the same – you’ll have increased your heart rate, taken in some oxygen, boosted your mood and built some muscle.
Japanese yoga classes change with the seasons to suit the external and internal environment.
“Autumn is a time for detoxing - in the same way a tree loses its foliage, it’s time for us to pull deep within ourselves and get rid of the overload,” explains Japanese yoga teacher Cate Peterson.
“In an autumn class, we would do prolonged poses, increase our inhalation and expiration and do strong stomach work to focus on the lungs and the large intestine.”
You’ve got your eating and exercising sorted - but have you checked in on your mental health?
Shorter daylight hours certainly impact your mood in a number of ways but for some, the loss of summer freedom and a return to routine as autumn sets in can bring a sense of drudgery. This is particularly true for those who live in the southern hemisphere, where autumn begins three months into the calendar year.
Apply a practical but caring mindset to manage these feelings. Use the cooler weather to refocus, reorganise, de-clutter or plan ahead. Give yourself time and space to sort your priorities but at the same time, be mindful and attuned to how you’re feeling.
As with everything in life, balance is key. Adhering to Traditional Chinese Medicine principles, work on getting your Yin and Yang right in your home, your body and your life.
Check in on your body clock. Are you better rising early and getting stuck into work, or do you function more effectively at night?
Create a home environment that’s conducive to clear thinking and to comfort. Make your house light, spend time outdoors, stick to your exercise routine, cook and eat consciously, and like the leaves on the tree, let go of those things you truly need to let go of.
“I like to think of it as a coolamon basket - if you have too many negative emotions, the coolamon will be unbalanced. You need to find all the right resources to get your balance right and create a holistic life,” she says.
At the end of the day, seek out a therapy that brings you into balance. The intention of so many of our practitioners is to restore your balance – whether it’s physical, mental, spiritual or emotional. This can come in the form of nutrition, massage, Reiki, breathwork, acupuncture, life coaching or the myriad of other therapies you’ll find on our platform.
Have a wonderful autumn.
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