This time of year, whilst full of hope, anticipation and new beginnings, can also feel miserable, especially as the weather gets colder and the days shorter and darker.
For me, autumn is a time for slowing down and turning inward; think of it as hibernation for the modern human. I like to use the end of summer to regain focus and take stock of where I am and what I hope to achieve.
As with any seasonal shift, changes in the weather will affect us mentally and physically. It's common to feel low, suffer with skin problems and have depleted energy levels at this time of year. That’s why I find it useful to have a bank of reliable rituals on hand to help me feel supported and prepared for anything.
Below are my top tips for keeping skin vibrant and hydrated, for enhancing energy levels (especially as the mornings get darker) and for that all-important immunity boost.
Beauty & Skincare
Massage is a really powerful and incredibly underrated ritual for all kinds of things, but particularly for boosting circulation (which will enhance your glow), reducing tension and encouraging cell renewal. I like to mix it up between using tools (like a jade crystal roller or gua sha) and just my hands. It’s super simple and you can work it into your current beauty regime, by simple spending around 2-5 minutes massaging the muscles in your face – focusing around the eye, cheek and jaw areas.
A neti pot is a traditional cleansing method originating from the East. It is a way of cleaning the nasal passages (known as nasal irrigation), and is a ritual used to clear the debri and mucus from the nose and sinuses. It looks a bit like a mini teapot and you fill it with filtered water. It helps to clear the nostrils, helping breathing and oxygen intake, reduce dryness, ease sinus-related headaches, relieve allergy symptoms and prevent viruses and infections. As the seasons change, we are often at risk of seasonal viruses or just feeling a little rundown and out of sorts, so this can definitely help. I also find it makes my head feel clearer too.
Scraping the surface of the tongue is known to remove a build up of toxins which accumulates overnight, preventing us from swallowing and ingesting them. It's a really simple, energising and powerful ritual to add to your morning routine.
Tapping is a simple technique known to promotes blood circulation and energy flow. It involves tapping and massaging parts of the body, using a combination of fists and fingertips to activate them and to release any tension, emotion or energy blockages held within. This is one of my favourite rituals and can be an energising practice to include in your morning routine if you want to raise your vibrational energy and feel balanced, lighter and physically less stiff.
Yoga doesn’t have to be an hour-long class or strict sequence, but can be as simple as a few stretches here and there, without any kind of ‘flow’. Downward Dog is one of my favourite yoga postures to stretch out the body and to encourage circulation around the body, whilst also reducing muscular tension.
Revolved Twisted Lunge is a warming pose that energises the legs and stimulates the internal organs to promote detoxification and digestion. This is also a great one to practice in the mornings as the temperatures get cooler.
Pranayama, also known as breathwork, is one of my favourite tools for supporting internal cleansing and to enhance focus, concentration and energy levels. Ideal to practice in the mornings.
Breath-counting meditation is a powerful exercise for the mind which tidies away distracting thoughts, enhancing concentration, stamina and endurance. Try this to refresh your thoughts or stay on task at work or to feel more present.
1. Sit comfortably either on the floor with crossed legs or on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes, bring your awareness to your breath and notice any natural patterns or rhythms.
2. On an exhale, start counting silently from one. Then inhale, pause briefly once your lungs have reached full capacity, and exhale, silently counting two.
3. Keep counting like this at the end of every exhalation until you reach ten, and then starting counting backwards, from ten to one. If thoughts intrude, you get interrupted or you become distracted and forget which number you’re at, simply accept it and start again from one.
4. Once you are back to ‘one’, repeat the sequence, counting up to 20 or 30 or however far feels natural, and bring the practice to a close when you are ready to.
As the weather gets cooler, our bodies begin to crave different things. Grounding ingredients and warm foods are often desired to bring our bodies into balance, and making infusions to drink is one of my favourite ways to gain warmth and nourishment, anytime of day.
Not quite as potent as ingesting the ingredients whole, infusions and teas still draw nutrients from the plants you are using, which are then quickly and easily absorbed by the body. They also help bring variety to the daily-recommended amount of water we should be consuming.
There are several methods for infusing, and the ratio of plants to water really depends on personal taste. For hot options, simply use hot water or hot milk to brew your choice of herbs, spices, flowers, fruits, vegetables or other plant-based ingredients (such as fresh basil, thyme, mint, cinnamon, chamomile, fresh fruits or fresh vegetables (such as cucumber, carrot, beetroot). Brew them in a large jug, heat-proof bottle or even a large bowl to then decant into smaller bottles.
Store in the fridge but serve warm.
As the seasons change - despite the fact that most ingredients are available all year around these days – it is incredibly beneficial for us to incorporate seasonal ingredients into our diets. Autumn brings with it an abundance of earth and root vegetables, such as turnips, cauliflower, butternut squash, cabbage, carrots, kale, parsnips, potato, and so on.
Vegetables grown in the earth are incredibly grounding, and cooking them and enjoying them warm is even more nourishing, providing our bodies with easily digestible meals to warm from within. Do a little further research on seasonal ingredients as we shift from autumn into winter and opt to swap salads and cold dishes for more curries, soups and stews.