Fall In: 5 Integrated Health Tips for Fall
Did you know that some cultures consider fall to be a transition time- a “hinge” between summer and winter? It has both the heat and dryness of summer along with the wind, cold and dampness associated with winter- just less extreme. Hence, it is a shifting from one extreme season to the next. According to Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, fall is a season of rapid give and take with hot/cold and dry/wet as well as adjustments to changes in routine with school starting back up, time changes and changes in amount of light and darkness. The body must adjust and adapt. Adaptation can be draining on your energy, or Qi/Chi/Prana. It is no wonder so many of my friends, clients and family suffer from fall allergies, colds and feeling “run down” as Fall emerges.
Many integrative and Eastern medicine practitioners believe there is a strong link between weather and health. Fall weather and colder/darker seasons have been linked to depression and mood changes because of decreased Vitamin D from sunlight and increased darkness on serotonin production. In addition, Harvard Health has found links to colder weather dampening the immune system, affecting blood pressure and body balance. Ayurveda practice deems fall a Vata time, referring to Dosha’s or constitutions, Vata being colder, moving, shifting, dry and light or airy. A “Vedic imbalance” can be a cause of health issues. Chinese practice refers to Fall as the season of Wind- with lots of movement. This wind can be taxing on the spleen, the liver, digestion, skin and overall balance. So, take time to reflect, rest, reset and re-balance yourself when seasons change. Check out these health tips for the fall. These will help you ease into the next season.
5 Tips for a Healthy Fall:
- Protect your lungs, sinuses and airway with warm moisture, avoiding extreme cold/hot and staying well hydrated from the inside out. Use steam in showers and baths, perhaps with some sinus clearing essential oils like eucalyptus, rosemary and mint. I like to use Sinus Rinse, neti pot or saline mist in nasal passages to moisten the dry membrane while flushing out “damp” sinuses.
- Eat the right seasonal, whole foods for your Dosha or constitution. Take this quiz online to find your dosha or dosha blend. Limit processed foods and load up on warming, grounding fall foods such as: Soups/Stews, Pears, Apples, Squash/Pumpkin, Sweet potato, hearty greens, almonds, grains like rice, millet, quinoa, oats.
- Get plenty of rest. Shoot for at least 7-8 hours. All this movement and transition can take a toll on the body, so you need rest to help reset and rejuvenate. Having trouble falling asleep? Try essential oils like lavender, clary sage, and chamomile, or chamomile tea. Try gentle yoga or meditation to release tension and relax the mind. If you are like me, sometimes my mind is cluttered with “stuff”- so I journal to get it out and sleep with peace.
- Recognize feelings, emotions and moods. The change in sunlight, routine and weather can be chaotic on mood. Recognize feelings as coming and going- careful not to get “stuck”. Acknowledge them, address them, be it needing to exercise to boost endorphins, needing yoga to connect and get grounded, needing essential oils to perk up like lemongrass, grapefruit or orange oil, clove or mint oils. Maybe you need to get outside in fresh air and sunlight. Or, maybe you need more sleep or a massage. Don’t worry, just acknowledge and adjust. Practice self-care.
- Just like the animals- gather, store and set yourself up for a healthy winter. Take the wonderful bounties of produce from summer and early fall, (tomatoes, kale, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and squash) and blanch, store sealed and freezes.Make batches of fresh pestos and tomato sauces or soups and freeze.Make pear and apple sauces or butters.Infuse oils and vinegar with herbs for cooking and holiday gifts.Dry herbs and flowers for teas, tisanes and potpourri. (Calendula, chamomile, cone flower/Echinacea and hyssop are all healing as is rosemary, mint, thyme and citronella.)Cut up fresh berries and peaches left from season and freeze for smoothies or compotes.
For ideas on how to preserve fall produce, go to One Green Planet.
Wishing you all a happy and healthy harvest!