Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall- Tips for a Happy Change of Season
The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting cooler, the trees are changing color, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts are bombarding us with Pumpkin Spice Everything, and Hallmark has already displayed all of this year’s Christmas Ornaments! That could only mean one thing… Mother Nature is making the transition from the heat of summer to the cooler, windier days of fall! Personally, I love the Autumn! It’s my favorite season of all- with colder temperatures, the beauty of the color changes that we are so lucky to experience in the Northeast (sorry to my daughter Carolynn in Clearwater…), and the road to Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, my favorite holidays.
However, if you’re a beach person, or someone who loves to live in your flip flops- you might be feeling a bit down lately daydreaming about the fun you had during the warmer months. This year is even worse than most- due to the stress of the past six months of the pandemic and with no end in sight, along with the stress and anxiety of the upcoming elections- we have seen even more patients than usual having difficulties coping with these transitions. Fear not however — we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you prepare and rejoice in all that fall has to offer.
1. Get Yourself Ready for Daylight Savings Time.
Here’s a little trivia you probably never knew: Out of all the months, October is the one where people sleep the most, by an average of an extra 2.7 hours a night according to a Harvard research study! When autumn kicks off, it’s normal for people to start hitting the snooze button more often than they did in the summer. This is known as a condition called hypersomnia, which is the exact opposite of insomnia. But the same Harvard study found the quality and deepness of your sleep also suffer, and people report feeling groggier during the day. Why? Thanks to shorter (and often rainier) days, your eyes aren’t exposed to as much bright sunlight as they enjoyed during the summer, the authors say.
So what can we do about this? Plan to get a solid 7-8 hours every night. Sleep is a critical time for the body to heal and detoxify. Practice good sleep hygiene by going to bed between 10-11pm, sleeping in a completely dark room and turning off electronics at least an hour prior to bedtime. And do me a Big Favor- that includes NOT WATCHING THE EVENING NEWS!! Instead, watch “I Love Lucy” or “The Honeymooners”, or read a good relaxing book! Do Anything that will NOT get you anxious and stressed out before you go to sleep!!
2. Focus on Warm Nourishing Autumn Foods
The seasons affect us not only in how we react to the outside climate but also by the foods that are naturally available to us. The Fall Season gives us those richer, denser foods such as winter squash, pumpkins, apples, sweet potatoes, root vegetables and dark leafy greens. While we may enjoy light salads and cold drink in the summer, fall time provides a natural move toward more cooked foods in the fall and winter months, which provide our body with more easily digested foods as our internal digestive fire tends to decrease with falling temperatures. Many of the vegetables and fruits available at this time are rich in the immune supportive and anti-allergy nutrients which align with our body’s seasonal health needs. In addition many fall fruits and vegetables are hardy in nature, some lasting through to the first frost and lending themselves well to canning, drying or freezing for consumption through the winter. So make sure to check out local farmer’s markets and farm stands for a nice selection of regional fall produce.
3. Don’t Forget to Hydrate
It sounds counterintuitive, but when the heat dies down, we actually run a higher risk of getting dehydrated! Confused? It actually makes a lot of sense — in the middle of the summer, we can’t help but constantly toss back water because we’re hot and sweaty and the sun is beating down on us. But when the weather takes a turn for the cooler side, we tend to forget to drink as much H2O and we start drinking more dehydrating beverages like hot coffee and tea (… Pumpkin Latte anyone??).
To prevent this from happening, make sure you’re sipping enough water during the day. Even set a few reminders on your phone for yourself if you have to. A good tip is to try and drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily. Urine should be a light yellow color; darker yellow suggests dehydration.
4. Keep Moving
This has been such a crazy year already. First we were forced to be home bound through the entire Spring due to the Pandemic. Then the summer finally arrived, but we were still unable to be as active as we usually are because of less outside activities, sport events, and summer vacations. Now- we are facing the prospect of heading back indoors with the capability for activities diminishing once again. So- find an activity to do and Do It Consistently! Get outside and break a sweat while the sun still shines on crisp fall days and walk, run, hike, bike, etc. to promote elimination via sweating and increased lymphatic circulation. As I have been preaching from the beginning of this shut down- exercise and movement is now even more vital than ever for both physical and emotional wellbeing.
5. Avoid the Moody Blues
Some of you may have heard of (and maybe even experienced) a condition called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD for short. This is a blanket term for depression-like symptoms that crop up this time of year when the weather cools. From a slightly down-in-the-dumps feeling to major melancholy, multiple reports have linked seasonal affective disorder to both lower vitamin D levels and poor sleep. In addition, shorter days with less sunshine have also been linked to this condition. Now- this year, add in the stresses of the pandemic along with all the political and social unrest, and you have a recipe for Real problems!! So make sure to counter these factors by staying active outdoors as much as possible. Things like apple and pumpkin picking are great physical activities which get you out into the sun and let you enjoy the beauty that this season offers. Another important way to combat the Moody Blues is to practice Mindfulness. This refers to simply existing in the present through awareness of all five senses and any internal thoughts or feelings in each moment. There are many ways to enhance this practice, including meditation, journaling, yoga, practicing gratitude, and breathing techniques to reduce stress. Enhancing both physical as well as mental-emotional health, cultivating mindfulness can greatly support our overall wellbeing, especially during the contraction of the coming winter season.
So- as summer ends, another chapter begins, and while there might be some anxiety attached to transitioning into this next phase, there can also be excitement and anticipation of great things and worthwhile challenges that this season offers! Let’s make sure to embrace these fun times and new beginnings.