As autumn began to settle in this year I realized that this will be the first full autumn/winter season that I’ll be in the chilly northern hemisphere for in over a decade. I haven’t spent the complete six months of autumn and winter in New York since before I moved to Miami in February of 2011. After the holidays, I almost always find myself leaning into unhealthy habits or finding solace in short term pleasures and often start to slip into a seasonal depression. Over the last eleven or so years I’ve either escaped to sunny Miami, Australia or South East Asia to remain thawed in the sun while New York grappled with the cold air, grey skies, bare trees and short days.
Something feels different this year. I’m excited for the cold, almost titillated at the idea of spending the next two seasons cozying up, resting, and supporting myself with different foods, herbs, activities, routines and more. I’m looking at the next few months as almost a challenge to overcome the depressive feels that start to creep in during the colder, darker months. To utilize the different tools in my toolbox to maintain a positive outlook and not slip into a negative and depressive mindset. I’ve been tuning into my intuition, asking my mind, body and soul what it needs me to do to support it through the next season – and have been loving what it’s been telling me. Here are some things I’m doing this autumn to support my mind, body and soul.
As a reminder: I am not a doctor, nor do I claim to be! Any claims in this article are based on my personal experience and research. Please read my full medical disclaimer before engaging with my content, suggestions or anecdotes. Also, as a reminder, this post contains affiliate links to certain products and I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!) if you make a purchase based off of my wonderful suggestions.
Things I’m Doing this Autumn to Support my Mind
I’m starting my list of things I’m doing to support my mind, body and soul this autumn with things I’m doing to support my mind because I’m a firm believer that if you can control your thoughts – you can control your world. While I may not have the ability to consistently stick to doing everything on this list for my mind, body and soul throughout the autumn season, at the very least, if I can keep my mind strong – I won’t beat myself up over my shortcomings and slip into a seasonal depression.
It might seem purposeless to list “staying positive” as something I’m doing this autumn season to support my mind but I find that intention is half of the battle. Meaning that if I set the intention to remain positive – it will be easier to stay positive (even after the last leaf falls and the temps dip below freezing). There is good and bad in nearly everything and sticking to a positive mindset makes the good; better and the seemingly bad: not that bad at all.
Reducing Screen Time
I’ve always noticed a drastic increase in my overall wellbeing when I reduce my screen time to less than 2 hours a day (keeping my screen time below two hours is one of the tools in my toolbox that I use to maintain a positive mindset). However, this autumn season I’m kicking it up a notch and only using my phone when the sun is up. I imagine this will be a really interesting test of my mental endurance after daylight savings when the sun starts to set around 4:30pm, but, its a challenge I’m up for nonetheless!
Starting my days with at least an hour or two screen free has done wonders for my mental health so I’m excited to see what happens when I slow down even further, putting my phone down for the night a few hours before bed at night.
Making my Bedroom a “No Screen Zone”
Piggybacking off of reducing my daily screen time to support my mental wellbeing this autumn, I’m also making my bedroom a “no screen zone”. This one is fairly easy because I don’t have a TV in my bedroom and haven’t used my phone in my bedroom in ages. However, I do enjoy scrolling Pinterest or catching up on some TV shows on my iPad before bed, which is a habit I’m looking to break. Enter: my “no screen zone” rule for the bedroom.
Reading, via Candlelight, Before Bed
Instead of doom scrolling on my iPad or tuning into some junk TV before bed – I’m making my new routine to read before bed. I’m upping this by deciding to read via candlelight instead of artificial light. Between phones and computers and iPad’s and TV’s: I’m exposed to a ton of blue light every day and lately I’ve been feeling like I need to cut down on the blue light.
According to this article from the University of Connecticut, “The American Medical Association is acknowledging the growing evidence of health problems associated with exposure to artificial light” and according to the NIH, “The accumulating experimental evidence has indicated that exposure to blue light can affect many physiologic functions, and it can be used to treat circadian and sleep dysfunctions.”
The evidence of artificial light harming our overall health and wellbeing is growing and in the interim, all I can do is try to do things that support healing instead of harming which is why I’m vowing to read by candlelight at night.
Candlelight, like the light that will be emitting from the beeswax candles I ordered, produces infrared light. NASA states that, “The warmer the object, the more infrared radiation it emits.” Based off of that science, it’s safe to say that the flame from my bedside candles will be emitting infrared light as opposed to the blue light that’s emitted from LED lights, screens and devices.
Reading by candlelight for the last few nights has lulled me into really deep, restful sleep. I also find that when I read by lamp-light I’m able to stay up longer, reading 40-50 pages or more before bed. However, when I read by candlelight (which supports my natural circadian rhythm) my eyes start to get heavy and sleepy after about 10 pages.
Weekly “Phone Free” Days
During the COVID lockdowns I found myself turning to my phone more and more. I had a grotesque screen time report one week, stating that I was averaging over 9 hours a day of screen time, and I decided I needed to make a change, cutting myself off from my phone for at least one full day per week.
For me, there is a direct line between my overall mental well-being and my screen time use. The more I use my phone, the more my mental health suffers… the less I use my phone, the less my mental health suffers.
Remembering how good it felt to be detached from my phone (typically on Sunday’s) led me to deciding to do a phone free day per week during the autumn (and likely winter) season.
When I moved to Italy last year I sold or gave away a large majority of my things. But, alas, I am a victim of consumerism and I still have many other things. Throughout the autumn season I’m making it a goal of mine to donate at least one box of physical items per week. Instead of making this a massive, overwhelming job where I have to tear apart my home, going through everything I own deciding what to give away.. I decided to keep a box in the corner of my zen den and to place items into the box that I no longer need or use as I come across them.
These items will be sporadic and random but regardless of how motley the items will be at the end of the week, it will still feel good to have freed up some more space in my home and life. Some of the items I collected this week were: a stack of old magazines, a coffee mug, a pair of sneakers, two sweaters, three portable phone chargers (do I really need five of them?), fifteen skincare products and about ten older electronics cords that I’m not sure what product they correlate to.
Things I’m Doing this Autumn to Support my Body
Making changes in my lifestyle to support my bodily health has been something I’ve been committed to for a few years now. However, this upcoming autumn season I’m tweaking some of the things I have been doing to be more mindful of not only supporting my body but supporting my body specifically through this season. Below are some of the things I’m doing this autumn to support my body.
90-Minute Hot Baths
I first discovered the concept of “lymphatic drainage baths” from an account I follow on Twitter, @fatrespecter. If you want to read the science behind who/what/why 90-minute baths you can read the thread he posted here. I started toying around with 90-minutes (or more) in the hot springs when I was living in Tuscany and always found that, at the very least, I just feel better after spending that time in hot water, sweating it out.
I am choosing to commit to the 90-minute hot baths at least twice a week through autumn not because it supports lymphatic drainage or because of the health benefits (although those are two huge bonuses) but simply because its warm and toasty. My body temp rises in the hot bath and stays up for quite some time after exiting the water – which is a welcome relief on a chilly autumn night.
To elevate my bathing experience I also add dead-sea magnesium flakes into the water as well as top the water off with an organic dried flower (roses, lavender, chamomile or even blue lotus, depending on my mood). I also make it a vibe by lighting candles and setting it up nicely – just to slow down and add a bit more beauty into my life.
Here are all the goodies I jazz my baths up with:
One of the things I was always excited to escape the autumn/winter seasons for was my skin. My skin would get so dry in the autumn and winter seasons that it would literally hurt to feel the cold air on my face. To combat this: I’ve started to eliminate chemical heavy skincare products from my routine and started to implement nutrient dense, antioxidant rich, organic skincare into my regiment.
Here’s a link to my favorite face mask at the moment, it’s exfoliating, moisturizing, brightening, tightening and best of all? It’s only four ingredients making it super easy to make and depending where you source the products, easy to make 100% organic.
My easy, DIY, organic, exfoliating, moisturizing, tightening and brightening face mask.
Red Light Therapy
I spoke earlier about the benefits of the red light thats emitted from candles and why I’m choosing to read by candlelight at night but to support my mind, body and soul this autumn, I’m taking it a step further. As the chilly autumn evenings and nights set in and the sun begins to set earlier and earlier – I’m going to be using a red-light device.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are heaps of medical benefits for our skin when using a red light therapy device inducing :
“-Improve wound healing
-Reduce stretch marks
-Reduce wrinkles, fine lines and age spots
-Improve facial texture
-Improve psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema
-Improve sun-damaged skin
-Improve hair growth in people with androgenic alopecia
Now, I don’t have a ton of skin issues but I’m not opposed to reducing the signs of fine lines, age spot and wrinkles! However, it is the positive mental benefits of red light therapy that really enticed me. A study conducted by the NIH found that red light therapy may help improve depression in as quickly as two weeks after just one single treatment!
While I haven’t had any seasonal depression set in.. I’m hoping that adding in some red light therapy might help to combat it before I can even be something I have to worry about. The greatest part is that with modern technology – we can bring red light therapy right into our homes. I found a few different red light therapy devices and ultimately decided to go with this one but I’m listing them all below for you to check out.
Sitting in the Afternoon Sun
As much as I’m enjoying the addition of red light therapy in my life.. there’s nothing quite as nice as some afternoon sun. There’s no shortage of studies that suggest that the sun is beneficial to our overall health.
“Sunlight is essential for human health and well-being. The health benefits of sunlight include generating the production of vitamin D, supporting bone health, lowering blood pressure, preventing disease, and promoting good mental health”, according to Medical News Today.
While the autumn sun may not be as strong as the summer sun – I notice that my face still adopts a bit of a tan from enjoying 30-40 minutes of sun between 12pm-2pm. At the very least, having a bit of sun-kissed color on my face can help brighten my mood making absorbing some afternoon sun something that can support not only my body but also my mind and ultimately soul this autumn.
Not Skipping Breakfast
For nearly a decade and a half I woke up, had a cup (or two) of coffee and started my day, almost always sipping breakfast. I found that I didn’t even have an appetite until the mid-late afternoon, after having been up for 8+ hours.
But, I also had gut health issues, sleeping troubles, weight struggles, depressive episodes and fluctuating moods. The more I’ve learned about optimal function of the human body – the more I learn about the importance of eating breakfast (ideally within an hour of waking up).
I’ve been kicking it with breakfast for nearly two years and I have never felt better in my body than I do now. I used to wake up almost nauseous at the idea of food but now I typically wake up hungry.
Towards the end of the summer I did some traveling and found it easy to slip off of my routine of waking up and eating breakfast but one of the commitments I’m making to support my body this autumn is to make sure I sit down for a delicious and nutritious breakfast.
Eating With The Season
I’ve been diving into the study of Ayurvedic health and lifestyles and one of the things that I’ve learned from Ayurveda is how important it is to eat with the seasons. At the most basic level, it makes total sense: the things that are in season are the things that were perfectly designed by nature to support us through the seasons that we’re currently in.
What does that look like? Trading berries (which are typically in season in the summer) for apples (which are in season in the autumn). Trading zucchini (a summer veggie) for autumn root vegetables and squashes.
Yoga: Every. Damn. Day.
I’ve toyed around with the physical yoga practice, asana, for about six to seven years, practicing here and there or attending a spiritual retreat that had a focus on yoga as movement for the body. However, during COVID I really committed to a yoga practice and during the summer of 2021 I attended an Amalfi Coast Retreat and since practicing with Chynna (the Holistic Nurse and yoga teacher on the retreat) I’ve felt so comfortable and confident in my asana practice.
Since then, if I skip a day where I don’t do some form of asana practice: my body suffers. Throughout the autumn season, one of the things I have to do to support my body is a physical asana practice: daily.
Things I’m Doing this Autumn Season to Support my Soul
Soul work is something that I’ve been doing for about seven-eight years now but this is the first year that I’m catering my soul work to align with the seasons. Supporting my soul looks different every day but there are also a few daily practice that I tune into that really help. One of my favorite things about supporting the soul is that it’s usually free of any cost, because most of the things that support the soul are simple pleasures. Below are some of the things that I’m doing this autumn to support my soul.
Working with An Ayurvedic Masseuse
Working with An Ayurvedic Masseuse is something that I began after the Amalfi Coast retreat. Chynna, the Holistic Nurse and Yoga instructor is also an Ayurvedic masseuse! I love the Ayurvedic massages because you get the same great, relaxing benefits from a traditional massage but it’s leveled up with herbal powder support, assisted stretching, lymph drainage, breathing techniques to assist with lowering stress, a meditation and visualization practice, as well as learning your tension patterns for long term awareness and change. You can learn more about Ayurvedic massages on Chynna’s Instagram and her 9-part series “What Does an Ayurvedic Yoga Massage Look Like” if you decide to book with her – tell her I sent you!
Practicing Daily Gratitude
Daily morning gratitude is something that is a part of my everyday morning routine. I swear by gratitude for maintaining a positive outlook and as the colder weather starts to set in – I’m planning on upping my gratitude to include a nightly practice, on top of my morning practice. Instead of jotting down a list of things I’m grateful for, as I do in the morning, I’m going to reflect on the day I had and with down at least five things from that day that I’m grateful for.
I find that when you look for reasons to be grateful – they appear. I’m hoping that this night time gratitude practice will help me to shift any negative perspectives I developed over the day and help me to go to sleep with a grateful mind and heart.
Taking a Break from Certain Plant Medicines
If you now me, you know I’m a fan of some Mary Jane (marijuana) and also advocate for responsible psilocybin (magic mushroom) use. But, to support my soul this autumn season – I’m going to be taking a break from any plant medicine that takes me out of myself (such as marijuana and mushrooms).
I can’t explain “why” I’m feeling the need to take a step back from these psychedelic and “high” effect plant medicines but it’s just something that I’m feeling really called to do, intuitively.
The message I’ve been hearing really loudly is that I have everything I need right now and that any of these certain types of plant medicines will just take me away from myself, my path and the work that I’m doing right now.
Spending More Time in Nature
From getting my feet on the ground to meditating outside to practicing yoga in the grass to even taking a simple walk in the park – connecting with nature always feels good on a deeper soul level. I know that when December, January, February and even March approach – it will likely be too cold to enjoy some time outside and in nature. So, as autumn rolls through I’m working on spending more time in nature – even if that means sitting in my backyard in the afternoon sun to get some work done, instead of sitting inside.
Watching More Sunrises and Sunsets
Watching the sun rise or set is something that makes me smile on the inside. I feel so much joy from watching the sky turn all different hues of colors as the sun comes up or goes down for the day. Finding joy in simple pleasures is something that really supports my soul growth so I’m making it a goal of mine to watch more sunrises and sunsets throughout the the autumn season.
I know that going into this upcoming autumn and winter season – I’m more prepared with healthy habits to fight the seasonal depression I’ve suffered from in the past. I’m excited to see how the above things I’m going to do this autumn to support my mind, body and soul pan out.
Are there any specific things you’re planning to do to support your mind, body and soul this autumn season?