Whether we’re busy moms or caretakers of other family members, single parents trying to do the job of two parents, dealing with chronic health issues, trying to balance work life and home life, have incredibly demanding careers, or any other version of a busy, demanding lifestyle, self care is foundational to our well being. Especially over longer periods of time. These self care ideas for fall will hopefully provide some inspiration to make it more of a priority.
Self care is not all about long, hot bubble baths in solitude, expensive, luxurious massages, or weekends away. It can be those things, but it doesn’t have to be. And I would argue that the majority of self care is not these things. Self care is about valuing yourself enough to include the things in your life that speak to your heart and soul, the things that refresh and restore you. It’s being as kind to yourself as you are to others. It’s also crucial for avoiding burnout and healing from chronic stress and health issues.
What is Self Care?
Self care is a broad term for anything you do to be good to yourself, and it will look very different for different people. It’s a process of practicing self-compassion and self-love, teaching your mind to say “yes, I am worth looking after and valuing”. Self care doesn’t always feel good. Destructive habits can feel good but ultimately be disastrous for you. Conversely, a good massage can leave you feeling like you were hit by a truck but will benefit you in the long run. Coping mechanisms should not be confused for self care.
Why is Self Care Important?
When practiced regularly, self care is of long-term benefit for the mind and the body. When you prioritize filling your own cup, you are better able to pour into others and you avoid burnout, which can be detrimental for you and those around you. Consistent self care can provide physical benefits like better sleep, more energy, improved immune function, and lower cortisol levels. Mentally/emotionally, consistent self care can contribute to healthier relationships, better boundaries, high self esteem, greater productivity, improved mood, and increased feelings of joy and peace.
Seasonal Self Care
There is a season to everything in life. Our ancestors intuitively embraced living seasonally. As modern conveniences allowed us to alter natural rhythms, we have gotten away from this, but there is still great benefit to embracing a seasonal living approach in the modern world. Keeping yourself balanced through the changing seasons can help you live these different seasons to the fullest. In Ayurvedic medicine, different seasons have different properties which result in tweaking one’s diet and routine to balance out daily life.
Fall is known as being dry, windy, erratic, cool, and clear and, as a result, is considered a vata season. Vata is often associated with the end of the life cycle in Ayurveda. As such, foods and practices that are soothing to vata are embraced during this time. Filling your fall with warmth, oils, deep nourishment, groundedness, stability, routine, and loving relationships will help you stay more balanced and centered during this season, benefitting you and those closest to you.
9 Self Care Practices for Fall
1. Start a gratitude journal
Fall is the season when our thoughts often turn to thanksgiving. This is more than family gatherings, football, and turkey. Practicing thankfulness or gratitude on a regular basis has proven benefits. Studies have shown that those who take a few minutes out of their day to journal the things they are grateful for are happier and more optimistic, exercise more, and have fewer doctor’s visits than those who do not. Couples are happier with their partners when they practice expressing gratitude to the other, and employees are motivated to work harder when managers express gratitude for a job well done. (1)
2. Go for a walk or hike
The best hours to exercise are between 6:00 and 10:00 in either the morning or the evening, and slow, gentle, strengthening activities are soothing to the body and the soul. Get out and enjoy the crisp fall air and take in some beautiful sunrises or sunsets. Getting out in nature can help boost immunity for the coming cold and flu season, and it can improve mood, too. (2) Moderate exercise is good for your health and stimulates the body’s production of GABA and seritonin, two important feel-good neurotransmitters. (3, 4)
3. Start a new routine
Many of us balk at the idea of a routine, even if only momentarily. While a lack of structure and restrictions might sound enticing, having a routine that works for yourself can give you more time to do what you want to do and help you be more productive, get through your to-do list more efficiently, and ensure you have time for things that are meaningful and important to you. Having a solid routine is also important for reducing stress and cortisol as it reduces the chaos in our lives and helps you schedule down time into your day. Procrastination and other bad habits will also be much easier to mitigate. A good evening routine will support a healthy circadian rhythm, which means better sleep.
4. Indulge in seasonal foods
Soups and stews are great this time of year and are known for their grounding and moisturizing effect with lots of healthy fats and hearty vegetables. Packed with warming spices, they make the perfect fall meal. They are also great for batch cooking and freeze well to have on hand for those days when you need something quick. Nourishing sweets can be a nice treat. Think tapioca pudding, date balls, or even a chai latte.
5. Give yourself a massage
I know I said self care isn’t all about massages, but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge. Self-massage is an important part of Ayurvedic wellness and a true expression of self-love. Self-massage with a warming oil, like sesame oil, for 15-20 minutes several times a week increases circulation, calms nerves, increases stamina, promotes sleep, improves skin quality, stimulates lymph movement, and nourishes the entire body, physically and emotionally. If you enjoy essential oils, vetiver, geranium, and citrus oils are seasonally appropriate, just be careful with the citrus oils as they can have a photosensitivity effect. There are some good YouTube videos, such as this one, to show you how. (5)
6. Enjoy a new seasonal tea
Warming teas are excellent this time of year. If you are on the go a lot, invest in a good stainless steel or glass travel mug or thermos so you can take it with you. Ginger, licorice, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, saffron, turmeric, allspice, and cardamom, or any combination of these, are all appropriate choices. Turmeric golden milk, either with raw dairy or coconut milk, and sweetened with honey or maple syrup is delicious and so warming and grounding.
7. Pick up something warm and fuzzy
A new hat or a pair of mittens can be just the thing to bring a smile to your face on a brisk fall day. Many craft markets kick off during the fall season in preparation for festive gift-giving. Sometimes perusing local artisans is enjoyment enough, but if you’re looking for something more personal to take home with you, my vote is warm and fuzzy!
8. Compile a seasonal capsule wardrobe that makes you smile
Fall is the perfect time to prep your wardrobe for the next few months. Put away the bright cheery colours of spring and summer until next year in favour of the deep, rich tones of fall and winter. Warmer fibers, like wool, are seasonally appropriate and will keep you nice a cozy warm
9. Learn a new skill
Fall can be a perfect opportunity to learn a new skill. Knitting or crocheting are peaceful and relaxing activities that can produce a variety of lovely items to be used or given as gifts in the coming months. Fall offers an exquisite colour palette to stimulate artistic endeavours like painting or photography.
Self care practices for fall don’t have to be complicated or extravagant. They can be simple and nourishing to the body, the heart, and the soul with just a little bit of intention. I wish you a happy and healthy fall season.