What I love about autumn is the way the crisp air and slower pace of life ushers in a reinvigoration of introspection. Perhaps it’s my own introverted tendencies, but even as the world outside us declines with the autumnal seasonal change, there is a freshness about the season that invites in a spirit of renewal, to find home again, within ourselves.
But the transition into fall isn’t always the easiest. We go from balmy, care-free summer ways into shorter, crisper sun-lit days and busy schedules filled with deadlines and colleagues who need us to be present and focused.
One of my favorite perspective shifts has been viewing and understanding each season from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, which views humans as inseparable from nature and aims to live in harmony with the seasons. In nature, autumn is a time of organic decline: plants wither, the leaves fall, animals prepare for hibernation. As the temperature naturally cools and crisps, we harvest the crops before the first frost arrives. As humans we become more internal as the temperature pushes us indoors.
Syncing with seasonality has helped me ease the shifting of my natural desires, energy levels, interests, and cravings that undoubtedly show up during the transition of seasons. Understanding how I relate to the environment around me based on the time of year has proven to be illuminating and reviving.
Like the seasons, we flux, we shift, we change.
Here are six things (one for each of DIEMlife’s Pillars of Wellness) I’ve been desiring right now that can also help your body and mind adjust to create the most meaningful autumn season for yourself.
- PHYSICAL // mantra: “root down, spice up”
Autumn is the season of the harvest. We begin slowing down and preparing for winter. It’s time to nourish the body, and build warmth. Root veggies or those that grow underground, like sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, carrots, and onions are great choices to help your body feel grounded during this season. They possess a strong connection to the earth and are generally sweeter in flavor and warming for the body, easing digestion.
As we slow down and begin to draw more internally, our cooking times should begin to mirror our activity. Think slower cooking times, like baking + roasting. Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and squashes are among my favorite foods to roast. Soups + stews are also great choices, simmering on the stove for long periods, containing hearty autumn produce, and keeping digestion minimal with their high broth contents and warm temperature.
Lastly, fall flavors are my jam. There’s a reason the #pumpkinspicelatte makes a comeback year after year. Think big with your flavors — think pungent. Pungent is the flavor of autumn in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and I love using spices for amping up the flavor of my dishes while keeping calories at bay. Among some of my favorites are cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cumin, and ginger. In addition to adding a zing to your food, they’ll help stimulate your circulation and aid in digestion.
- MENTAL // mantra: “drink in knowledge.”
Engage that mind of yours. Autumn brings out a natural desire to learn in us. There’s a reason schools start up in September; a method to the madness — it’s definitely not random. As the subtle, slower energies of autumn and winter become more pervasive within us, there’s a natural reinvigoration of introspection, an excitement to go within. Our intellectual heads turn on and our curiosity about ourselves increases. We quiet down and begin listening to our inner needs — gathering, filling up (our minds).
Try picking up a new book or two. Maybe not just any book, but one that will help you to understand yourself on a deeper level.
My top picks are…
You are a Circle – Guillame Wolf
Practice You – a journal by Elena Brower
Invincible Living – Guru Jagat
When things Fall Apart – Pema Chodron
Woman Code – Alissa Vitti
Flow – Mihaly Csikszentmeihalyi
- SOCIAL // mantra: “manifest together.”
If you’ve never tried out this rad practice, new/full moon circles are the group ritual with the perfect ratio of social and introspective to align with autumn — not to mention an apt time to get a little ‘witchy.’
I had the opportunity to gather this past week, with the women behind the LA-based crystal company, Energy Muse, who led us through a delightful exercise to help us manifest our desires and intentions (new moons are all about setting intentions, while full moons are about releasing that which is not serving us in our lives). This is a fun and unexpected social activity that involves gathering with others to work on ourselves, especially before the gluttony of the holidays arrives, where most socializing is centered around food and drink. There’s definitely other ways to be social and supportive of one another. I personally love the aspect of gathering with a group of people I do not know to share what we all want to manifest. You feel the support and vulnerability of the entire circle of strangers, which is a very rare + somewhat exhilarating experience — my heart definitely pounds in the best way when we go around the circle to share one of our intentions. It’s a chance to connect with someone new, and also say with conviction (because saying what you truly want out loud is actually really stinking hard) what you’re looking to bring forth in your life.
- ENVIRONMENTAL // mantra: “celebrate cozy.”
As someone who thrives on daylight and sunshine, I’m very sensitive to the shortening of the days and the darkness that creeps in earlier and earlier to our evenings as fall progresses.
Cue the Danish, who are pros at dealing with the dark and desolate months of the northern winter. I (and most of America and Europe) have fallen in love with a Danish cultural concept called ‘hygge’ (pronounced hoo-guh) – which the Oxford Dictionary defines as, “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).”
It’s the Danish way of making the most of the darkness and cold they experience. A tradition and practice that can change your entire approach and presence during these more introspective, quieter seasons. The New Yorker says the origin of the Danish word has close relations to the English word “hug” and associate it with a mixture of relaxation, indulgence, and gratitude. Hallmarks of the Danish concept are a mindfulness and appreciation for the small, warm moments–try lighting a candle; sipping a warm latte or hot tea; wrapping yourself in woolen socks and heavy knitted sweaters; or gathering around a fireplace to listen to the crackling of the flames with loved ones. Hygge highlights an idea of self-care and deep contentment, which have earned Danes the label, “the happiest people in the world.” Find joy in the warmth we have available to us, getting snug and celebrating moments of cozy and quiet.
- OCCUPATIONAL // mantra: “incubate ideas.”
Ever dreamed of taking initiative, being the leader of a concept, or maybe even starting something on your own? #sidehustle Whether it’s at the office, or something of your own you’re looking to birth into the world, Autumn is the opportune chance to follow that hunch and begin the process of growing an idea. Rather than just going with the flow or just settling into the standard routines, use the natural focus inwards of the season to discern how you’d like to step it up a notch at work or in your livelihood, and then develop those ideas over the coming months so they will be ready to blossom in the spring. Think small steps right now, like creating a Pinterest vision board, crafting a new website, or organizing a team/committee to begin planning a proposal or project for your company. But start now, by brainstorming and cultivating something that will take your passion or livelihood to the next level. Initiative has a starting point. When you debut your next idea, make sure it’s well incubated.
- FINANCIAL // mantra: “gather reserves.”
Like a squirrel collecting nuts for hibernation, it’s a time to be resourceful about where you’re gathering from financially. Don’t just look in the obvious places–like your paycheck. It might require a little more effort now, especially with the holiday season coming up quicker than we think. This is the time to make sure we have a surplus for the coming months—a slight cushion. There’s an active push; collect from any part of your life that you can. One of my favorite hacks is to print out my bank statement, and look for any automated expenses I’m not aware are being taken out. We’ve all signed up for that 30-day free trial and just never unsubscribed. Another idea for financially preparing for future expenses is to sell items that are no longer serving you. Go through your belongings and collect items to list on Ebay, or Depop to earn a few extra dollars, while also clearing and lightening up the space around you. This falls in line with how Traditional Chinese Medicine associates fall with the action ‘letting go’ and ‘elimination.’ With this exercise, you’ll feel cleansed, and also a bit more prepared for any expenses that come your way in the next month or two.
I can’t wait to see how you utilize these tips and tools within each of the Pillars of Wellness to make your most meaningful and aligned autumn season yet.
Loving these suggestions but not sure how to start? Look for my Quest in DIEMlife and see how I applied these tips to sync up with the season.