The long days of summer fade and the evening encroaches earlier and earlier as the length of the night grows. As the seasons shift, you must make bodily adjustments to feel your best. That means adjusting your diet, sleep patterns and routines to best suit you as you change seasonally, too. Here’s how to transition your body to fall weather.
SLEEP NEEDS CHANGE SEASONALLY, AFFECTING MOOD
Your body’s circadian rhythm adjusts to night and day. Many of us experience shifts in mood and energy levels when the seasons change, and most notice this shift during the winter months with the onset of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of seasonal depression that affects day to day life.. Those experiencing winter blues report needing 1.75 to 2.5 additional hours of sleep every night.
In winter, people tended to go to bed later in the winter, adjusting their sleep along with the variations in exposure to light. A study looked at the long-term effects of sleep-cycle disruption and seasonal shifts in behavior revealing that a consistent routine matters for long-term emotional health.
Though the seasons change, their pattern of variation repeats over the years, and how you adjust your sleep seasonally will affect your health in the long run. Listen to your body, and try shifting your sleep schedule up or down by an hour as the seasons change, particularly as the fall transitions to winter. Light is relatively balanced during the waning summer to fall months, but if you want to stay up 30 minutes later, that’s okay. Adjust your bedtime at least a few days or before clocks “fall back” an hour in November.
What matters is sticking to a regular routine, even if that means taking a power nap or asking for more flex time at work to work with your body’s needs, which may be especially affected if you suffer from illness.
EATING FALL FOODS FOR A FALL GUT
Researchers have noticed seasonal gut shifts in those in agricultural societies, and recent research predicts that your microbiome likely cycles with seasonal diet — the landscape affects the microbiome. Good gut health affects your whole health. If you’ve had issues with feeling lethargic and grumpy as well as sticking to a healthier diet, a less restricting goal is to focus on eating seasonally to benefit your gut microbiome. So, transition your body to fall weather by eating the bounty of the fall foods this harvest season.
Start with your region. What foods and produce grow there?
Besides pumpkin, fall foods include artichokes, apples, persimmons, beets, sweet potatoes, chestnuts, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. Eating beets can reduce how hard your heart works when exercising, and cauliflower’s also a great source of protein. Spinach-artichoke dip using Greek yogurt, a natural probiotic, and a tasty beet salad! Make your pizza with a cauliflower crust instead of a flour one — some grocery stores offer these premade for those with gluten concerns. Find an apple orchard near you and go picking!
Try eating a more Asian or Mediterranean diet, or go the route of more folks these days and eat “flexitarian,” focusing on more vegetables and fruits and adjusting your menu choices as you need.
The onset of fall can also bring allergies, not to mention the start of the cold season. Mid-winter temperatures lead to plant pollination, and rainy spring multiplies plant growth which increases lingering symptoms of allergies and mold well into autumn. Combat cold-like symptoms by eating more balanced meals that reflect the seasons and improving your gut health.
GETTING YOUR FALL EXERCISE ON IN NATURE
Ever notice how fall tends to sneak up on your senses? The color changes start slowly, then suddenly, every tree is a blatant array of red and gold. The cool air feels good to work out in since you feel more alert and are less likely to overheat. So, skip the gym and prevent the early onset of SAD by getting out and exercising in the fall weather with a few of these exercises.
The end of summer doesn’t mean you have to give up the water. Expand your horizon beyond the swimming pool, and explore the shifting landscape by going on a kayaking trip. Kayaking works out your upper body, including your back, heart, chest, abs, shoulders and arms.
Your trunk shifts in rotation and counter rotation as you row, and your spine shifts to keep your balance and align. These motions strengthen your upper body and core. Dipping the oar into the water engages your shoulders and pectoral muscles.
RUN UNPAVED NATURE TRAILS
Running on an unpaved natural trail challenges your body more than running the treadmill. The uneven terrain sneaks in your cardio as you work your major muscle groups, improving your agility, core and balance.
Zip by the changing leaves on your mountain bike, and challenge your calves to make it up hills to leap over a rapid stream. For a 160-pound person, expect to burn slightly over 600 calories while mountain biking for an hour. With the inspiring scenes of nature, you may forget how long you rode and not feel the burn for a few days.
Claim the course for yours as others go indoors. One round of golf gives your body exercise comparable to a 30-minute workout at the gym, and if you walk the course, expect to burn around 1,500 calories.
SOCIALIZING IN THE FALL
As the temperatures cool, you may feel tempted to stay inside, but it’s the perfect time of the year to explore nature and socialize. While you may feel basic for craving a pumpkin spice latte, don’t let that hold you back from indulging in that pumpkin spice.
You need a just-right balance of solo and social time. Cabin fever gets the best of you, even when you got your fancy cheese, chocolate, wine and hearty chilly to see you through the colder seasons. Host a game night, and combine the powers of mulling spices, wine and a crockpot to make mulled wine. Spike the coffee with a little whiskey to stave off colds that sometimes come with the cold season. Be careful with your indulgences, but remember, red wine contains heart-healthy antioxidants.
Instead of coffee meetup, get friends and family to get their fitness on with you as you kayak, hike or go mountain biking together. The earlier part of fall makes perfect weather for camping or glamping when you’ll catch plenty of fish, pick the last wild berries and enjoy the not-too-cold temperatures.
REFLECT ON WHAT CHANGE MEANS TO YOU
Fall is the perfect time to reflect on what change means. Both beautiful and terrifying, your body and mind are at war with the feeling that time is fleeting. Pace yourself and sprint. Don’t rush like the wind through the season of change without being transformed yourself.
Regale in the simple sensory shifts of each moment — from the scent of decay leaves to the feel of a new sweater’s brush on your skin. Now, is the time to move toward comfort in your acts of self-care.
FALL MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS PRACTICE
As times and seasons change, the most powerful practices you can keep involves setting aside a peaceful time where there is no agenda. Think of it as downtime for the mind, body and soul. True stability in life derives from the inner spaces of love and light in the self and your inner self as the nonjudgmental witness. Honor quiet time throughout each day to find inner balance in the chaos of activity.
Fallen away from mindful practices? The season of change makes for a great time to begin the practice again. Let the busyness of summer drift into quiet observation of the shifting fall palette. Choose a spot outdoors for a deeper experience in nature, or sit by your favorite window with a cup of tea and listen to yourself.
Finding stillness in other parts of your busy days will also streamline your day without making you feel like you constantly run on autopilot. When you take time to notice the details in one moment, this act expands into other parts of your day to increase your productivity, satisfaction and joy. Find moments to commit to small acts of meaningfulness and doing what you love, and you will finding meaning in other tasks, even chores.
Fall is a great time to Fall Back into self-care. Body & Soul Massage offers a monthly Massage membership program. Visit our website www.bodysoulsalem.com or call today 978-825-0040 to learn more.
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