Updated: Aug 20, 2022
We have officially entered fall this week! Today I wanted to bring you 10 tips that will help your mind and body stay in balance during the fall season. If you aren't in the mood to read, I also made this into a little YouTube video!
I am sharing these tips through the lens of Ayurveda. In Ayurveda, we all have a different proportion of Earth’s elements that we are made of and the seasons also have different ratios of these elements.
Fall is when we enter the Vata season. Vata has a higher ratio of air and space and has less fire, earth, and water. You will notice that the fall is a time where the winds start to get cooler and dryer, the leaves start to dry up, and so does our skin!
When you adjust your lifestyle habits based on the season, it allows you to keep your body and mind in flow with nature's ebbs and flows.
Most people already do this on an intuitive level. There is a reason pumpkin spice comes out in the fall! This is a mixture of warming spices to help you adapt better to the cooler season. But there are a variety of other ways that we can be more mindful to keep our body in balance. Here are my top ten ways to help you feel better in the fall.
1. Embrace Routine! This is an erratic time of year when a hot day can be followed by a chilly one. Try to develop a good sleeping routine so your nervous system is more relaxed and less affected by the changing seasons. Do the best you can to set a bedtime and stick to it! A regular routine will also help your digestion, energy, and stress levels.
2. Stop Multi-Tasking. Vata is already erratic in its nature so you don’t need to behave like it too! When the mind jumps from one thing to another over and over again it causes us to be unstable. Instead of multi-tasking, try focusing on just one thing at a time. Who knows, you may even enjoy this approach more!
3. Oil is your friend. The first thing I notice happen to my body in the fall is chapped lips! Dry skin is a more common complaint from most people in the fall, especially those that are predominantly Vata in their body type. Try massaging your body in warm oil or a warming oil like sesame. Massaging your body with oil will help calm the mind, boost immunity, improve circulation, and moisturize the skin. Doing this before you take a shower can help protect the skin from the hot water and you can really apply the oil more liberally since you will be washing it off!
4. Scale back on exercise. Wait, what?! I know, seasonally appropriate exercise isn’t a thing in the United States but you should base your activities according to nature’s seasons. Your strength and energy levels drop a little bit in the fall so fast and intense workouts are not recommended. It is a time for more grounding practices like Hatha or restorative yoga. You could also try mat Pilates and think about doing more floor-based exercises - they will literally help ground you! If you aren’t willing to give up your crazy workouts, at least take a little time with some sort of grounding practice after. You could sit in the hot tub, sauna or do a restorative yoga pose for five to ten minutes before you leave the gym.
5. Follow a seasonal eating routine. This is one of the most powerful ways to stay in balance. Our food choices have so much control over how we feel both physically and mentally. Fall is a time for warming foods and beverages. This is why stews and soups tend to be popular this time of year. I have already noticed friends on my Facebook feed making chili and macaroni and cheese this week!
You may want to add a teaspoon of oil to each meal like ghee, sesame, or olive oil to help keep the digestive fire burning strong and keep everything lubricated from your insides out.
Eat sweet and juicy fruits and vegetables such as zucchini, okra, pomegranates, and sweet oranges.
Foods that are dry and cold should be avoided. By cold and dry I mean things like salads, raw food, smoothies, and iced drinks. You should also avoid peas, chickpeas, and white potatoes. In the snack department, try to reduce your intake of popcorn and chips. Anything cold, light, and dry should be avoided or eaten in moderation with a mindful balance of the foods that are working to your advantage. IF you love salads as I do, add a serving of warm brown rice or some roasted vegetables to balance the cold and dry with warm and moist.
6. Be mindful of your digestion. Our digestive fire weakens a little bit as the weather cools off. This can be felt as having a weaker appetite, bloating, or having more gas. Your foods should be Vata calming and nourishing but also easy to digest. Think about foods that are cooked and gently spiced.
How and when you eat are also important! Try to eat at the same times each day and focus on eating without distractions. Remember, no multitasking! When you eat, focus on enjoying the food and taking time for yourself to be present.
7. Keep it moving! Too much Vata leads to constipation so make sure you are having healthy bowel movements. Nobody likes to talk about poop but it is an important aspect of our health. A decrease in all those summer activities can also lead to stagnation so make sure you are still keeping some sort of daily movement routine to help keep your body and digestive system moving.
If you notice constipation start to arise or your stool becomes dried and more pebble-like, try using a digestive enzime (I really like Terrazyme, a probiotic, or you can also soak a handful of raisins in a cup of water, blend it and drink up.
8. Stay warm! Vata is cold in nature so staying warm is a great way to keep in balance. Fall is often a difficult time to know what to wear because the days begin a little cooler but can become quite hot! Dress in layers and always have an extra layer around in your car for those hot days that turn cool when the winds pick up and the sun goes down.
9. Make time for yourself. Fall can be a busy time for establishing new routines. The school season starts back up, summer fun is over, and the holiday season is coming! Make sure you set aside time daily to nourish your mind and body in a way that resonates with you. Get out for a walk in nature, take five minutes to breathe before you move on to the next thing on your to-do list, or go get a massage to help ground you down.
10. Breathe! Deep breathing is an incredible way to tame Vata and calm your mind. Take a couple of minutes here and there throughout the day, or turn to 5-10 minutes of breathing to start your day or to help you handle stressful situations.
When we pay attention to nature and we realize that we are a part of nature, not separate from it – we can learn to live a life that is more balanced. Understanding that the seasons do affect our mind, body, and spirit is important. Nothing in nature blooms year-round and you aren’t expected to either!
Give yourself some grace as the season's change and take some time to figure out what works best for your lifestyle and routine.