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  • Tracy

Seasonal Wellness: Late Fall – Early Winter

As the seasons shift, so do our bodies and minds, our temperaments, our state of mind, emotional state, and our needs. The simplest way to understand what is happening within us is to look at our environment. Where I live, in Western Wisconsin, the leaves have fallen from the trees and the sap has stopped its flow. Some animals have tucked into their dens for the winter, while those who do not hibernate are eating voraciously to make sure they have the energy needed to sustain them through the coming cold days.

Grasses, branches, and leaves are dry and brittle - as are the bone-chilling, gusty winds. The hours of daylight shorten, and the sun travels lower on the horizon with each passing day. The sounds of birdsong, insects, and frogs chirping in the night is quiet, replaced by the sound of the wind and the crush of dry leaves and brush under foot.

Even though our modern lives try to override these rhythms, we are not separate from this cycle of nature, and you might be feeling some similar things happening in your own body, mind, or energy. Your skin and hair might be drier, your temperament a little more brittle. Your body may feel stiff or tight, or you might feel aching in your joints. You may feel the urge to slow down, or to rest more.

It is important to honor these shifts as we look for ways to gently move ourselves toward a place of balance. Here are some simple suggestions. Try the ones that resonate with you and that you feel comfortable implementing. Even small changes can make big differences in how we feel.

Balance activity with stability.

During the late fall/early winter, especially as we get nearer the holiday season, we might begin to feel a bit like those dry leaves getting blown around by the wind. Our schedules are erratic and daily routines get forgotten amidst holiday parties, shopping, and travel.

  • Do your best to keep your routine as stable as possible. Wakeup times may be easier to keep consistent but bedtimes and meal times may need to shift on occasion to accommodate travel and holiday gatherings. When you can, keep your daily routine as consistent as possible and don’t let a few disruptions to your schedule throw you off. Return to your schedule as soon as you can.

  • Self-care and managing stress belong on the top of your priority list all year long, but you might feel more anxious or your emotions more sensitive during this season. What do you need in order to feel rested, nourished, and grounded? Schedule a massage, take a yoga class, curl up in a cozy chair with a book and a cup of tea, or do whatever it is that recharges your batteries.

Balance sluggishness with movement.

Imagine that your body is like a tree. Your sap has slowed its flow, and your body might be feeling cold, sluggish, and stiff.

  • Keep moving – but do it gently and slowly. Gentle forms of exercise like walking, gentle yoga practices, tai chi, and swimming will keep your “sap” circulating and help keep your joints and tissues nourished and supple. This is not the best time for strenuous activity, which can be drying and depleting.

Balance dryness with hydration – inside and out.

In the summertime we are more aware of hydration as we observe the moisture leaving our bodies in the form of sweat. The dryness of the winter air also saps moisture from our bodies.

  • Drink lots of warm beverages like herbal tea, lemon water, and bone broth. Soups and stews also warm us from the inside while providing moisture and healthy fats keep our tissues supple.

  • This is a good time to bring the humidifier out of storage and put it to use!

  • The Ayurvedic practice of Abhyanga is a simple addition to your daily routine that helps you feel more grounded and keeps the skin moisturized. Abhyanga is self- massage with warm oil before bathing. Learn more about abhyanga at Banyan Botanicals. This is one of my all-time favorite Ayurvedic practices!

Turn up the heat.

When our bodies are cold our muscles tighten. When we eat cold food or consume cold beverages our digestive systems contract. Think warm – warm clothing, warm environment, warm food, warm beverages.

  • Spice things up. Season your food and look for teas with warming spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, ginger, and cayenne.

  • Break out your cozy sweaters, soft socks and slippers, scarves, and hats. Bundle up and pay special attention to make sure your feet and neck are warm. I dislike scarves (it’s a past-life thing), so I got a soft neck wrap last winter. It makes such a big difference! When I wear it, my whole body stays warmer.

  • Sorry salad fans, raw foods like salads are best consumed during the summer heat. Favor well cooked, easy to digest season foods. Soups and stews are especially good because of the added moisture content. Do you love fruit? Add stewed apples, pears, or plums to your oatmeal or rice pudding, or make a fruit crisp with lots of warming spices.

Understanding seasonal wellness is easier than you might think. Simply notice what is going on in nature and know that what you see is also happening inside yourself. Look to nurture and nourish yourself with foods that are in season and activities that balance the excesses you might feel. For more information on Ayurvedic seasonal wellness guidelines, check out Banyan Botanicals and always feel free to reach out to me with questions or comments!

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