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How to take good care of yourself during the autumn (and winter): 8 tips

By Katrien Maes.

Autumn is dry, rough, windy, changing, erratic, cool, subtle,… As the external environment changes during this season, your internal environment can experience the same type of changes: dry skin, crackly joints, windy bowels, cold body or cold extremities, constantly changing thoughts,…
If we look to Ayurveda, the ancient Indian health system, all these qualities are shared by the vata dosha, that’s why autumn is considered a vata season.

Applying the Ayurvedic principle that opposite actions create balance, you can maintain balance during the vata season by emphasising lifestyle and food choices that are grounding, stabilising, warming, moisturising and softening.

Here are 8 tips to make this ‘Autumn (and winter) balancing’ concrete in your daily life.

*Follow a regular routine. Daily structure is very useful to reduce over-action in your head, especially in autumn. Schedule, next to work and the ‘must do’s’, time for self-care, good meals and enough sleep.

*Diet: Eat seasonal foods that are warm, moist, unctuous, sweet and soft.
Focus on cooked meals, savoury soups and stews; cooked (not overcooked) vegetables, proteins and fruits, sweet grains such as oat to make a warm breakfast. Include healthy fats in your diet, increase the amount of oil when preparing your meals. Use warming and grounding herbs and spices such as fresh ginger, cardamom, cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, curry powder,… Avoid cold and dry food such as toast, dairy, raw food.

*Be mindful while eating, eat slowly and consciously, in a peaceful environment or in silence.

*Sip plenty of warm beverages throughout the day: herbal teas and water with fresh ginger, to increase the digestive fire and immunity. Reduce coffee as it induces dryness, mental action and exhaustion. Avoid cold and fizzy drinks.

*Seek for silence. Schedule your moments of silence, alone or by joining a meditation, yoga, tai chi or mindfulness group. Ancient mind-body practices such as yoga and Tai Chi produce more energy than they consume. By practising you feel calm, invigorated, clear-headed.

*Go outside, spend quiet time in nature, go for a walk in the woods or at the seaside.

*Wear clothing that is soft and warm and keep your head, neck and feet warm. Try to avoid air conditioning or wind on your upper body muscles.

*Perform a daily self-massage. Heat a bit of sesame oil and massage gently your feet before going to sleep, it reduces the action in your head and promotes sleep. Or go for a regular body-head massage to get rid of emotional and/or physical tension and to align your mind with your body.

Katrien Maes