With pumpkin patches, colorful leaves, and tasty, seasonal treats, it’s easy to understand why everyone falls in love with fall. However, with fall comes shorter days, longer nights, and colder weather, which can cause some to experience low mood and decreased energy.
Keep reading to learn how to overcome the negative emotions that often accompany the changing seasons and prioritize self-care.
Up Your Intake of Vitamins and Minerals
As autumn forges ahead and sunny days slowly lessen, our daily routines begin to change and shift to more indoor activities as temperatures drop. We might walk on the treadmill instead of the park, avoid restaurant patio seating, or have a cozy night in more often. When we’re in enclosed spaces with more people, the chances of becoming sick can increase. According to Dr. Lawrason, MD, pulmonary medicine physician, “Illness tends to be seasonal, and people are more likely to get sick when the seasons change.” Here are a few vitamins to make sure to include in your diet this fall to help boost your immune system and overall well-being:
Our bodies get plenty of Vitamin D during the summer. As sunny days become harder and harder to come by, we can get the Vitamin D our bodies need by choosing healthy food options that are high in this vitamin, which boosts the production of immune cells.
Vitamin D can be found in wild seafood such as salmon, sardines, swordfish, or tuna. Try making apple cider glazed salmon for a fall-inspired dish!
Including an adequate amount of Vitamin C in your diet is essential, as it’s necessary for the growth, development, and repair of all body tissues. During the summer, we eat uncooked, Vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables, while in the fall, we more commonly cook our vegetables. Since Vitamin C is water soluble and temperature sensitive, vitamin levels are easily weakened during cooking. A study conducted by NCBI research found that high temperatures and long cooking times lead to severe depletion of the vitamin.
Did you know that pumpkin is a great source of Vitamin C? It also has a wealth of other antioxidants that control blood pressure, reduce cancer risk, and prevent and control diabetes. Adding some pumpkin into your diet this fall could be just what you need to boost your Vitamin C levels! Try making a fall pumpkin chili filled with other vitamin-rich vegetables such as bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, celery, and carrots.
Zinc is an essential mineral that you can benefit from during the fall. The body needs zinc for the immune system to effectively fight off invading bacteria and viruses and ensure that your immune response does not spiral out of control.
Increase your zinc intake by including meat, shellfish, legumes, and seeds in your diet. Speaking of seeds, one ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 2.2 mg of zinc. When you carve pumpkins this year, try roasting the seeds in the oven for a tasty and nutritious snack!
Brew Healthy Fall Drinks
While pumpkin spice lattes are the long-awaited go-to drink of the fall (and for a good reason), it’s important to know the nutritional facts of drinking them and other popular fall drinks. Amy Myers, MD states, “pumpkin spice lattes contain sugar, dairy, artificial flavors, preservatives, and much more.” One pumpkin spice latte contains up to 50 mg of sugar, an inflammatory food, which is nearly twice the recommended daily intake. We listed a few alternative drinks below you can make this fall, along with their benefits to your overall health and well-being!
Do you ever experience coffee jitters? You’re not alone! Coffee jitters are a common side effect caused by drinking caffeine, which boosts adrenaline levels and can lead to increased blood pressure and an elevated heart rate. If you are looking for a jitter-free buzz, matcha might be the perfect morning drink for you this fall!
Matcha contains L-theanine, which is known to relax the mind without causing drowsiness. Matcha may benefit your mental health by having a positive effect on moods, promoting relaxation, and sustaining energy. Additionally, matcha is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients that can boost your body’s health!
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar is a popular remedy used for years in medicine and cooking. Apple cider vinegar contains many healthful properties, including antimicrobial and antioxidant effects, which may aid in weight loss, reduce cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels, and improve symptoms of diabetes.
To begin incorporating apple cider vinegar into your diet, try adding 1-2 tablespoons to your water in the morning. You can also use apple cider vinegar to make detox drinks with lemon, turmeric, ground ginger, and cinnamon.
Another great and cost-effective drink to make a part of your routine this fall is a cozy cup of tea. Drinking tea has been a health-promoting habit for ages, and studies have shown this holds true today. These studies have shown that drinking certain types of tea can help fight off cancer, promote cardiovascular and metabolic health, boost your immune system, and fight inflammation. A few teas to try this fall and their benefits include:
- Green Tea: Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and promotes heart health
- Black Tea: Promotes healthy cognition and reduces inflammation
- Oolong Tea: Contributes to healthier cholesterol levels
- Chamomile Tea: Aids sleep and helps support immunity
- Ginger Tea: Helps with nausea and vomiting
- Peppermint tea: Supports a healthy digestive system
Often, stress can be related to worrying about things we need to do, whether it’s in our day-to-day lives or planning for an upcoming trip or holiday. Help relieve your autumn anxiety and feel mentally prepared by planning ahead.
Traveling, especially during the holiday season, can be stressful. Even though we might be able to control how fast the security line moves at the airport, we can plan ahead to avoid unnecessary travel headaches. Book accommodations well in advance by crosschecking calendars and setting alerts for more affordable flights and hotel rooms. Don’t forget to book activities early if you’re traveling to a touristy location. Before you leave on your trip, make a packing list to ensure that you have everything ready to go, including all important documents such as passports, licenses, wallets, and medications. Don’t forget to check that all your documents are up to date ahead of travel! Knowing the holiday travel season kicks off in the fall, make sure to give plenty of time to get to the airport in case there’s an influx of travelers or flight changes.
Hosting during the holidays is a lot of work but can be rewarding when you finally get to sit at the table with your family and friends. There are a few small things you can do to help relieve your stress and allow you to focus on your loved ones! The first step to planning a Thanksgiving dinner or festive gathering is to confirm your guest list and ask about dietary restrictions. Once you have all this information, the next step is to create a menu and maybe even a signature beverage. Another way to take the weight off your shoulders is to ask people to contribute to the meal. Make it a potluck or coordinate with guests to bring sides. Before the day of the event, make sure to prepare for any overnight guests that are staying in your home and prep any food you can beforehand. Pro Tip: set the table the night before to take something off your plate and the guests can admire the tablescape upon arrival.
Being outside is a great way to boost your mental health, and you don’t need to go on a strenuous hike to do it! Getting outdoors has been shown to improve mental health by improving work and school performance, regulating sleep, boosting mood, easing depression and anxiety, and instantly lowering stress.
A few easy ways to get outside are going for a walk and admiring the fall foliage and/or neighborhood fall décor, sitting outside and meditating for a few minutes, or participating in outdoor yoga. Some more outdoor activities you can partake in this fall include visiting a pumpkin patch, going apple picking, getting lost in a corn maze, or going to a haunted house! Make sure to dress accordingly!
Enjoy Some “Me” Time
Whether you are a busy parent, employee, student, or caregiver, it is easy to get caught up in finishing your daily tasks without thinking about making time for yourself. Carving out time for yourself, even if it consists of little moments throughout the day, can make a massive difference in your well-being over time. According to Mental Health America, “self-care is proven to reduce stress and anxiety levels while increasing self-compassion.” Especially when feeling irritated, overwhelmed, or anxious, it is important to push yourself up on your to-do list and create some “me” time. Whether you need a whole day to yourself or a few moments, here are a few ways you can take time for yourself this fall:
- List out your goals for the day, week, or month
- Write down what you’re thankful for
- Read a good book
- Go shopping for cozy sweaters
- Watch your favorite Halloween movies or fall shows
Alone time can be challenging to fit into your daily schedule. If you find yourself consistently unable to take time for yourself, make sure you prioritize saying no to people when you cannot take on more, and remember that it is okay to ask for help!
Create a Relaxing Ambience
Some say your environment is a direct reflection of how you feel. Clutter can translate to chaos and can have a negative impact on mental health, such as increased stress levels, difficulty focusing, procrastination, difficulty with relationships, and a lower quality of life. Potential reasons for clutter in your home may include feeling overwhelmed, being afraid to let things go, and finding comfort in possessions. If you feel overwhelmed, removing your clutter and creating a relaxing space for yourself may be just what you need!
Because we tend to stay indoors more often in the fall, it is the perfect time to declutter and create a cozy space that you enjoy being in. A few things you can do to get started with decluttering your home are to get rid of trash, clothes that don’t fit, and items you never use. Purging can be overwhelming, so a good tip is to create a checklist of where you need to get started and take it one step at a time. Once your place is cleaned up, the next step is to create a space you love by adding warm throw blankets or fall-scented candles.
Make a Feel Good/Relaxing Fall Playlist
Music is a powerful and accessible tool for managing emotions, moods, concentration, and stress. Researchers at Stanford University have found that “music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication.” It was also found that the sounds of rain, thunder, and nature relax the mind, especially when mixed with light jazz or classical music. This autumn, try making a playlist based on what you enjoy to help calm your mind.
When making your playlist, one of the most important aspects is creating a vibe that fits your mood. Think about when and why you will listen to it. If you listen to your playlist to help you fall asleep and relieve stress before bedtime, you will want to pick songs with a slower and more relaxed tempo. Acoustic versions or instrumental songs are always a safe bet. Need a feel-good playlist to boost your mood while driving in the car or going for walks? You might want to add songs with an upbeat rhythm or catchy chorus. Streaming platforms do an excellent job curating the perfect playlist for seasons and moods if creating your own feels daunting.
Now that we’ve listed a few ways to prioritize your mental and physical health this fall, it’s time to act, whether that means making time for yourself, decluttering, or planning your holiday travels. Remember, self-care looks different for everyone, and it may take trial and error to find what works best! What fall wellness activities bring happiness and health to you?