Oh summer, I wish it were summer all over again. We all have our favourite season and I am definitely a summer person. The light warm mornings we spent sitting outside with our coffee in one hand and a book in the other. The warmth of the summer breeze against our skin every day and the many evenings spent walking the dog near the river, laughing.
But our summer fun need not be downgraded to a deep, gloomy autumn mood. It’s a good time to seek the joy and fun in each and every season to help balance your mood and fuel your brain.
Here are some autumn mood boosters:
Adjust your inner clock
With the darker mornings and shorter days we are fighting our natural biological rhythms with electric light - especially with the blue light of screen time. Try to get outside in the daylight for as long as possible every day - even if it’s grey and rainy. The boost to your brain and serotonin levels will help boost your energy and help you to sleep.
Bring the summer back
Nothing lifts up your mood more than lively scents and colours surrounding you in your living space and a bright reminder that, even though it is dark and rainy outside, it doesn’t have to be at home. Get yourself a beautiful verdant, floral candle, a houseplant or a colourful bouquet of fresh flowers. There is a powerful therapeutic effect of perfume on our brain reminding us of sunny days. Or embrace the autumn and indulge in the warming scents of clementine, cinnamon, cloves, spices and frankinscence and open log fires.
Set a new self-care goal
If the light and sunshine of spring and summer help you stay motivated and energised to pursue your goals, then maybe it’s time to set some goals for the more mellow and calm days of autumn and winter. Can you reset your self-care? How about prioritising rest and recharge? Add audiobooks, yoga, catching leaves, early nights, spices, chai latte, and meditation to your routine. Can you come out of winter refuelled and ready for all that 2021 may bring?
Stretch and breathe
If you’ve been exercising outside maybe it’s time to think about different routes - under the trees on rainy days, muddy puddles and leaf catching on windy days, early frosty morning walks or runs. As mammals we go into a gentle hibernation over the colder months, with lower energy levels and laying down fat stores to keep us warm in the cool weather. Now is the time to focus on weights and building muscle in your exercise regime. And if you find yourself tense and cold, slumped in front of a screen look for some yoga or pilates poses that help you to stretch, release tension and deepen your breathing.
Book a trip
If, like me, you have been stuck at home or work all summer and you haven’t had the chance to go away yet, book a break. Make that trip you have been thinking about all year. A weekend trip away from the crowds somewhere you have never been, embracing the colours of nature in autumn is so invigorating. A change is as good as a rest.
Embrace autumn food
Sharpen your kitchen knives and experiment with autumn ingredients – it is the season of abundance and foraging, pickling and preserving. Wild blackberries, apples, sloes and rose hips are amazing at this time of year. Marrows, squashes and tomatoes are all wonderful ingredients for soups and slow cooking. All these foods have wonderful levels of anti-oxidants to help reduce inflammation in your brain and body helping to boost your mood and help your levels of immunity. Explore some new recipes to inspire you and switch up the weekly meal rotation.
Boost your nutrients
Autumn is here and the cold days demand special care so we should preload with essential nutrients which boost your immunity and protect you from seasonal low mood.
At this time of year your body and brain understandably need a little bit of extra love and support. Your brain is the CEO of your body which makes it the most important organ you have.
It’s in charge of your immune, circulatory, digestive and neurological systems so to keep feeling energetic, healthy and uplifted all winter and autumn is the perfect time to fuel up. Preventative rather than reactionary wellbeing is key - don't wait until you get ill or feel low to do something about it. Start now.
Here are 5 nutrients to start taking now to help you stay well and feel happy this winter season:
1. Vitamin C
An incredibly versatile nutrient that fights off viruses, boosts your immune system and cuts colds short. Our brains are the biggest consumers
of Vit C, using it for our cognitive performance (memory + focus) and to make our happy brain chemicals, like serotonin. Low levels have been
found to increase the symptoms of depression and anxiety and a good daily
intake is vital to mental wellbeing.
2. Vitamin D3
It is estimated that at least 20% of people in the UK are low in the sunshine vitamin. Spending less time outside, sunscreen and seasonality all contribute to poor levels which have been associated to sleep problems, fatigue, poor immunity, SAD (Seasonally Affective Disorder) and low mood. Taking D3 rather than D2 is key.
3. Vitamin B12
6 million Britons are estimated to be deficient in B12 (Methylcobalamin) - people over 65 and vegans/vegetarians are at particular risk. It is vital for healthy blood and nerve cells, metabolism, cognitive and psychological functioning. It boosts mood due to its role in making serotonin and dopamine - low levels are linked to SAD, mood swings, low mood, fatigue and memory fog.
Another hard working nutrient that supports your immune system (reducing the length and symptoms of colds and viruses), works to balance hormones
and is essential for brain function. Low levels are related to depressed mood.
This used to be found naturally in the foods we eat but with 100 years of intensive farming there is very little left in our soil. It is an unsung
nutrient that lowers oxidative stress, reduces inflammation and is
crucial for the proper functioning of your immune system and your brain.
Vitamins B6, B9 (5MTHF not Folic acid) and the mineral Copper, and especially Omega 3 are all also key players in immunity and brain health playing a fundamental role in producing serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine and the other feel-good brain chemicals.
Here’s wishing you a beautiful autumn -
the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness