Feeling a little sleepier, stiffer, or less focused lately? Yeah, me too. I love fall, but I admit the combination of shorter days, less sun, and colder weather can do a number on my mood, body, and mind – and that seems especially true now that I’m in my mid-40s.
With the realities of fall AND my midlife body in mind, here are 7 practices I’m leaning on to set myself up for a healthy and self-nurturing autumn season:
I’m boosting my Vitamin D, Vitamin B, and folate levels.
My Parsley Health doctor recently noted that my levels of Vitamin D, B12, and folate, which are related to way more essential functions in the body than I realized and can affect mood, energy and more, are a bit lower than she’d like to see. To get my Vitamin D up, I’m back to a daily dose of my Athletic Greens Vitamin D3 and K2 supplement, which I love (we’ve got a special deal on Athletic Greens through The Mom Hour that includes a free year’s supply!)
My doctor also recommended a Vitamin B & Folate supplement that I’m loving. It’s a tiny little lozenge that actually tastes really good (I was worried) and is easier to take than a capsule. I’ve been on this supplement routine for a few weeks & have noticed that some persistent muscle pain I’d been experiencing is going away. Looking forward to seeing those boosted numbers on my next labs!
I’m trying to get outside – every. day.
There’s a pile of research indicating that getting outdoors is great for us mentally, physically, and emotionally – and I definitely feel those positive effects when I make outdoor adventure part of my daily routine. But I know maintaining an outdoor activity while the temps start to drop can be easier said than done. I’m writing this in mid-October, and in Michigan, facing the elements will soon start to feel like a struggle. My plan this year is to commit to a daily walk every day through the transition from fall to winter, so I can gradually acclimate to the colder temperatures. (I’ll write more about this soon.)
I’m embracing feel-good movement.
When I’m sleepy, stressed, or feel short on time – all states of being I find myself in more frequently come fall – it’s hard to find the motivation to show up for hardcore workouts. Unfortunately, that sense of overwhelm can sometimes lead me to completely stop moving, which is the opposite of what my body needs! The good news is that movement doesn’t have to include a lot of sweat to “count”. Daily walks (see above) and a home yoga practice are simple, inexpensive, and accessible.
I’m hydrating with herbal tisanes (or “herbal teas”).
When the temps start to drop, it’s easy to start forgetting to drink enough water! One of my go-to sources of hydration in the fall and winter are soothing, warm herbal infusions (also known as herbal teas). They typically aren’t caffeinated, so you can drink them any time of day – I often rotate through my favorites morning, noon, and last thing before bed – and many also offer system-supportive nutrients. I like my herbal infusions with a lot of flavor, so I usually add a generous squeeze of lemon (also a great source of Vitamin C!) and let it steep quite a while before sipping. But if you like yours with a fainter flavor, it’s all good: the point is creating a pleasurable, warming ritual that ALSO leads to better hydration. Find out more about some of my favorite herbal infusions and how I prepare them!
I’m tweaking my skincare routine.
Fall is a great time to create a nurturing new skincare routine, or edit your summer routine for the winter months. I’ll be leaning a little harder on my super-moisturizing Osea skin cream, and switching from a gel cleanser to a cleansing milk.
I’m doubling down on cozy bedtime rituals.
I have found that I need a solid 30 more minutes of sleep each night in the winter than I do in the summer, which means I like to start winding down well before I climb into bed. I’m not a strict “no screens before bed” person, but I do make sure to avoid consuming stressful content later in the day – and if I feel particularly keyed up for any reason, I shut it all down early. A hot cup of tea, a warm aromatherapy bath (I can’t wait to try the new Vagus Nerve Bath Oil from Osea!) followed by my skincare routine and gua sha, a short yoga practice, comfy PJs, and a few minutes of reading in bed are the perfect recipe for sending me off into a deep and restful sleep.
I’m setting aside time…just to breathe.
When I went through yoga teacher training earlier this year, the number-one most impactful thing I learned was the importance of breath. A breathwork (or pranayama) practice can help transform mood, concentration, and energy levels, and I have increasingly found myself tapping into the power of breath whether I could use a boost of get-up-and-go, need to focus, or want to calm my nervous system. If you’re a beginner, it’s a good idea to start with simply noticing your normal patterns of breathing.
Try this: sit quietly and comfortably, breathing through your nose without trying to control it (I find it helpful to place one hand on my belly to center me as I tune in.) As you breathe, pay attention to the quality of your breath: is it short and choppy? Slow and steady? How does the air feel as you breathe it in and out? What is its temperature, scent, even taste? Often simply taking the time to notice my breath helps me make changes that are soothing when needed – like when I tense up my entire body and hold my breath in response to an icy blast of wind – or energizing, when a long, gray afternoon has me wanting to crawl under a blanket and shut out the world.
If you’re ready for a bit more, one simple breathwork practice I love to tap into is called samavritti, or even breathing. It simply means counting as you breathe in and out so that your inhales are the same length as your exhales, and it’s a simple practice you can do anywhere, anytime – even if you only have a few minutes available.
Overwhelmed? Start small.
Let me be clear: most of these practices are already things I’ve been doing for a while and am simply tweaking or re-committing to for fall. Trying to add a bunch of brand-new practices all at once is a recipe for overwhelm, so if you’re feeling like you need a serious reset and having a hard time fitting any self-care into your life right now, I’d recommend starting with just one or two practices. Choose one that sounds fun and easy to incorporate, and build from there.