As the days shorten and the leaves of our beautiful region fall to the ground, it seems like our natural instinct is to hunker down and prepare to hibernate all winter long. Despite how lovely a season autumn can be, for some, the loss of light and the change of the seasons can provoke sadness, anxiety, and distress.
Every new season in life is an opportunity to pick up some new practices and develop new habits that can help you stay physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. Here are several ways to nurture your well-being as the temperatures fall.
Autumn Cleaning for a Healthy Home Hibernation
Spring was a great time to clean and air out the house and get rid of all the stuff that accumulated over last winter, but don’t overlook the same opportunity this fall! Now is the time to tuck away the summer’s toys, swap out the shorts and tanks for pants and sweaters (it’s sweater weather!), winterize the yard, and give your home a good deep clean. Cleaned and organized spaces do more than tidy up your living space, they also lighten your mood and help boost your productivity.
Now is also a great time to rearrange your furniture or invest in some new and different decorations, which can make a big difference about how you feel in your home. Take yourself downtown to visit some of Ashland’s great shops, like Fig & Oak, LK Home Decor, and Farm & Home Hardware for a few new cute little somethings.
Make Plans to Stay Active
It’s so easy to downshift into a lower gear during the winter months, but if you’ve already established some habits and routines in autumn, you will be far more likely to carry those forward. Join a local gym, like the Ashland Warehouse, Snap Fitness, or A-Town Family Fitness, to find fellow fitness fiends like yourself. Organizations like the Ashland YMCA, Kroc Center, and Rise Studios provide a diverse range of wellness programming that can hold you accountable and will meet you where you’re at.
If you aren’t interested in going somewhere indoors to keep your blood pumping, there are lots of exercise routines and Yoga instructors available on YouTube, or simply bundle up and step outside! This is a beautiful time of year to hike our local parks or walk around your neighborhood and admire everyone’s Halloween decorations (and eventually Christmas lights).
Get Your Vitamins and Minerals
With colder temps, it’s far less likely you’ll be stepping outside and getting your daily dose of Vitamin D. The sun provides us with this essential vitamin most of the time, but if we’re not outdoors (or it’s especially overcast), we miss out. A Vitamin D supplement can boost your immune system and improve your mood.
Now is also a great time to try out new recipes using seasonal ingredients that are fresh, tasty, and match the mood of autumn. Fall fruits and vegetables aren’t just satisfying to eat, they contain vitamins and minerals that improve our mental health. Stop by the local farmer’s markets or swing out to Honey Haven Farm for the freshest and most local produce!
Spices that we associate with fall are also highly beneficial to your mental health. Turmeric can reduce symptoms of depression, cinnamon helps regulate your blood sugar, and nutmeg can have relaxing effects on the body.
Help Your Immune System Prepare for Winter
So many of us gather indoors during the winter, and that means more opportunities for viruses and bacteria to circulate. When you come down with a cold or flu, it not only knocks your physical health out for a while, it also puts a major damper on your mental and emotional health. Get your flu shot, schedule a visit with your doctor for an annual wellness appointment, drink plenty of water, wash your hands, get enough sleep, and eat healthy foods…when combined, all of these actions can help you boost your immune system and stay well.
Plan for the Delights of Winter Nights
No matter how much you love being out in the cold, there’s nothing like coming back inside. If winter is a hard season for you, make plans now to keep the winter doldrums at bay. Create a plan to keep busy that still allows you to rest in the quiet of the season. Plan a weekly dinner night with friends or family. Schedule game nights or electronic-free Saturdays to have some quality time with your family. Choose one night a week to watch your favorite shows or movies with loved ones, pop popcorn, and sip on a hot beverage. Make a book list to read through the winter, and share it with a friend so you can discuss what you’ve read.
Be Kind to Your Body
Remember that life is full of seasons and cycles, and autumn is naturally a time when we all wind down, put on extra weight, develop colds, and feel a little low. As Alyse Ruriani says in her article on autumn wellness tips, “Listen to your body and give it what it needs, and don’t beat yourself up!” If autumn and winter aren’t your favorites, don’t worry. Spring will be on its way soon enough.
Sometimes, even when we’ve done everything we can to stay healthy and feel good, we still can’t free ourselves from anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns. That’s okay! If you could use a little extra help getting through this season, our website offers lots of resources for you to find a therapist or counselor who can help, or call the 2-1-1 helpline in Ashland to ask for help.
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