Autumn Is A Time for Change
We’ve all noticed that the sun rises later each day this time of year. We see the change in the weather and make the accompanying changes in our food and clothing choices. The autumn season is all about change – the leaves, the weather, our habits.
Seasonal mood shifts often include less energy, feeling less social, cravings for carbs and changes in sleep habits, partly due to the change in exposure to daylight. In the Western world, we talk about our circadian clock. The circadian clock monitors changes in day length and tells us when to feel sleepy and when to wake up and plays a role in hormone release, temperature regulation, metabolism and mood. In the East, they refer to this shift in energy, or dosha, that happens in the fall as vata. Vata governs movement in the body, as well as activating the nervous system and the processes of elimination. The qualities of vata are cold, dry, rough, light, changeable, irregular, and moving.
Here are some ideas for keeping your circadian rhythm, well, rhythmic.
Stay hydrated. Because fall is a dry season, hydration is very important. Consider warm soups and teas with ginger, cardamom and cinnamon to enhance circulation and digestion.
Choose foods that are warm and moist. Eastern philosophy suggests avoiding raw veggies and salads, as these are vata provoking. Eat root vegetables to enhance your sense of feeling grounded.
Indulge a craving for sweet, sour and salty…in moderation. Foods with these qualities are said to be calming to your vata. Consider an apple and cheese to satisfy your sweet tooth and salt tooth. A study conducted at the University of Copenhagen found that 2-3 ounces full-fat cheese had no effect on bad cholesterol and actually increased good cholesterol, which keeps bad cholesterol in check. If you’re trying to eat in season, there’s nothing better than a crisp apple!
Exercise is key! Exercise can help you beat stress, boost mood and combat depression. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to exercise hard all the time. Fall is the perfect time to exercise gently. Also, be sure to get plenty of rest to ensure your workouts are processed by the body during sleep.
Connect with your friends. Research shows spending time with your friends helps relieve stress, gives you a sense of belonging and improves well-being.