Making Friends with Fall- 5 Holistic Ideas

Making Friends with Fall- 5 Holistic Ideas

Leah Constantz, LMHC, Expressive Arts Therapist

Many people think of fall as a magical time of year. They love apple picking, going to pick out the perfect pumpkin and the cooler weather. However, for many, the fall transition is a tough one. I know, because I used to be one of them. Spring and summer are my seasons. I love being by the water, gardening and exploring new areas with friends and family.

Notoriously, around mid sept/early October my mood begins to take a turn. My summer diet of green salads and beautiful fruits became fatty sugary comfort food. My non-groggy early rising became grumpy late to work mornings. And, my ability to remain connected with friends and family on a consistent basis wavered.

Three years ago, I made a commitment to myself to make friends with fall. I've also learned a lot from those I've worked with who experience fall as difficult and/or are diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

So, here are 5 ideas to help make your fall feel at least a little bit better:

  • Eat seasonal foods.

This is a delicious way to help you feel attuned to mother nature. A crisp 50 degree day and a fresh spring salad aren't necessarily a recipe for making friends with fall. Think kale, apples, maple syrup and nuts. Aurvedya, an ancient Indian medicine, has suggested this for 100’s of years. Evolutionarily, our digestive enzymes also change to digest what is in season.

Check out this sweet potato brownie recipe- a healthy seasonal take on a decadent comfort food: http://makethebestofeverything.com/2014/08/sweet-potato-grain-free-brownies.html

  • Capture small beautiful moments.

Combine mindful moments and creativity by capturing them by photo. Fall is a season where many living flora and fauna go into hibernation. This leaves our surroundings brown and bare. It can leave you feeling sad and depressed. While going about your day, take moments to be mindful of the space around you. Maybe there's a gorgeous leaf that catches your eye or a squirrel happily feeding on acorns. Put your phone's camera to good use and snap some pictures. Play with angles, lighting and focus.

Being mindful and open to these moments of intrigue over time will reshape the way you literally view fall. You will train your brain to see these things more easily.

  • Exercise.

There’s one simple rule. Do what feels good for your body and do something you really enjoy. It could be that Yoga or Pilates feel the best during this time of year- both are grounding, rejuvenating and gentle. Or, it could be that you benefit from something a bit more upbeat such as running or Zumba. The point is you won’t know what feels right until you try it out. What’s great about first fitness classes is that many instructors do not charge, which is an affordable way to test the waters. Ask yourself these questions before and after trying a new activity to compare:

  1. How does my body feel?

  2. What is my thought process like?

  3. Has my emotional state changed?

  4. Was it enjoyable and fun?

  • Get your daily dose of sunlight.

Natural sunlight is available during many fall days. Whether we can access it at it’s peek is another questions. If you are someone who has the ability to get outside for at least 15 minutes during bright sunlight do it! If you are not, seeking alternative sources may be a great way to get your daily dose. Here’s a great article on choosing an appropriate lightbox and precautionary measures: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/in-depth/seasonal-affective-disorder-treatment/art-20048298?pg=2

  • Use aromatherapy.

Activating our senses is crucial in feeling alive. You’ve activated many in the ideas above- sight, taste, movement and now smell. Smells create important memories for us humans. Smells teach us things- when something is rotten, sweet, dangerous, etc. Smells can also produce comfort. My favorites in the fall and winter are tree and citrus blends- cedar and pine, cinnamon and orange. Here’s an article on autumn aromatherapy oils, blends and precautions: https://www.aromaweb.com/essentialoils/essentialoilsforautumnfall.asp

In the end, as much as I never wanted to admit it, it really is about embracing fall instead of resisting it. I am in a much better place now that I have been embracing her ways as are some of my clients. While these ideas will not work for everyone, I hope at least one of them will help and  inspire you to take some proactive care in the months ahead.

Here’s wishing you and yours a happy and healthy autumn!

There are different degrees of seasonal mood change. If you are someone who significantly struggles with fall and winter it may be time to contact a local therapist and your primary care doctor. And, as always, if you have special diet and/or exercise restrictions consult your doctor before diet change and exercise.