Simple Tips To Thrive In Seasonal Transitions
Wherever you are reading this from right now in the world, the seasons are changing. If you are in the southern hemisphere, you are moving into warmer days, lighter evenings and Spring is in the air! For those of you in the northern hemisphere, Fall is on the way with crisp cool temperature and shorter days. Maybe you have a preference for one season over another, we often do, yet they all have positive elements and things to enjoy, and it is often the contrast between seasons that keeps us grateful and appreciative of the special qualities of each one. Here in Bali, we miss those seasons- having only a dry and wetter seasonal shift, with warm temperatures all year round. Again, that may sound heavenly to some and unbearable to others!
One thing that does remain true though no matter where you are, is that a change in seasons can often be when we fall ill. Moving into new climates can take a toll on our immune system, and knowing how to prepare for the season can help you glide through these transitions with ease and carry your robust health right through the season and beyond.
Being extra mindful of your health and prioritising natural and gentle detox routines can be incredibly helpful at this time. Take a look at what works best for both Spring and Fall and take your health into your own hands.
Spring is often associated with lightening up and freshening up and gently cleansing the body. Winter can sometimes be a period of stagnancy and over indulgence, so moving towards Spring is usually an opportunity to look at both diet and exercise, as well as mindfulness and attitude, and perhaps a chance to swap some not-so-supportive habits with some new ones! Spring often comes with a real sense of revival and you may find that you feel more naturally motivated in this season- make the most of this! Harness this energy of new growth, transition and vibrancy to propel you into your new routines.
Here are some additional tips specific for Spring to help you thrive:
Eat Bitter Foods
Bitter foods have tremendous cleansing properties for your blood and liver. A few options are endives, radicchio, bitter melon, daikon radish, and dandelion greens. These can be enjoyed both cooked and raw. Often we shy away from these more robust greens and bitter foods in general, yet come Spring they are naturally in abundance and are an easy way to natural detox the body and move stagnant energy and toxins.
Drink Herbal Teas
Winter can sometimes mean an uptake in coffee as we need the extra warmth and motivation to get through the days! As Spring arrives, try switching out your caffeine for lighter herbal teas.
Teas such as nettle, dandelion, fennel, and mint are perfect at this time of the year. Fresh ginger tea can also easily be made by steeping fresh ginger in water for 20 minutes, draining, and drinking- this is good for both digestion and immunity during seasonal changes.
Try Bone or Veggie Broth
Bone broth has enjoyed a real resurgence in recent years! Hailed as the cure all for gut health and digestive complaints, bone broth is easy to make and has endless applications in the kitchen. Eat it as is, use it as a base for delicious nourishing soups, or add it to meals that require liquid such as risotto or even mashed sweet potatoes. Bone Broth has been shown to boost immunity, alleviate common colds and flues, fight inflammation, and boost cell regeneration. For vegetarians, hearty veggie broths can also be enjoyed at this time of the year, try and use a variety of vegetables for varied nutrients and even add some miso or seaweed to the mix for added nutrients. Especially if you have a compromised digestive system, broths can be key to supporting you in seasonal transitions.
Enjoy Fresh Herbs
Spring is a wonderful time to add more fresh food in general to your diet, but also fresh herbs and spices. Use herbs such as coriander, basil, dill, parsley and fresh mint. For spices, add more fennel, turmeric, cumin and mustard seeds. Add fresh herbs to any meal- top your soups or curries, add them to strifries, top salads, or even scatter on top of steamed vegetables or avocado toast!
Drink More Water
There may be no better detoxification advice than to drink more H20! The body requires water to flush toxins out of the system and to ensure good digestion- both which are key to the detox process. It can sometimes be hard to keep up water intake through the cooler months of winter, so Spring is the perfect time to get back into healthy drinking habits. Keep a bottle with you all the time- at your desk at work, in your car, at the gym, by your bed- and take sips throughout the day. You can add freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice or a few slices of orange or sprigs of mint to make it a little tastier. Make sure the water you are drinking is good quality- filtered or spring water is always best and good quality water filters are now easily available these days and well worth the investment for your health.
Visit Your Local Farmers’ Market
What better time to get acquainted with your farmer than the start of Spring?! Shopping at local markets is a win win- for your health, your community, and the Earth. Eating local, seasonal and ideally organic produce is one of the best things you can do for your body. The great part about eating seasonally, is that you can always enjoy new produce. Spring introduces a host of great options such as artichokes, asparagus, avocados, brand beans, leek, peas, sugar snaps, sweet corn, tomatoes, cherries, grapefruit, honeydew, cumquats and more! Food that is fresh and in season has more nutrients and more flavour. Artichokes and asparagus have potent diuretic properties and help to regulate the kidneys. Dandelion and artichokes are natural bile thinners and thin bile is needed to help transport toxins from the liver and out of the body. When you are connected to your food and where it is coming from, it helps you to be more mindful of your health and wellbeing, as well as more grateful.
Dry brushing has become pretty trendy in the wellness world. It is exactly what it sounds like- brushing the skin in a particular pattern with a dry brush, usually before showering. Experts state that brushing the skin regularly helps stimulate the normal lymph flow within the body and helps the body detoxify itself naturally. The added benefit of exfoliating the skin is clearing oil, dirt, and residue from the pores, many accounts of people also state that regular dry brushing greatly helps to reduce cellulite. Furthermore, dry brushing has been said to increase and improve energy levels due to increased circulation in the body- therefore it can be best done in the morning not before bed! Dry brushing can be done daily over the whole body, preferably before showering. Just as you cleanse your inside come Spring, this will help get your skin ready to greet the world after a season of hiding under warmer clothing!
Lets face it, the winter months can take a toll on both exercise and time outdoors. Spring is the perfect time to literally come out of hibernation and embrace the natural world. Find an outdoor activity that you love- be it running, sailing, skateboarding, horse riding, cycling, swimming- think outside the box and have some fun! Take time to research your local area and find new parks, hikes or waterfalls that you can explore on the weekends. Getting out into nature nad moving your body can even look like gardening or washing the car! Give your garden and the outside of the house a Spring clean also and get your blood pumping! Let your dog enjoy an extra kilometer or two on the daily walk. Do whatever you can to enjoy this beautiful season, the lovely sunshine, the aromatic air and the longer days.
Fall is another season of transition, perfect for a gentle detox to reset body and mind and prime your system for winter wellness. Detoxing in the fall may sound counterintuitive- Spring tends to be the season associated with cleansing. However a gentle cleanse in Fall can be a powerful way to boost your immune system and ensure you are entering the cooler part of the year with robust health. Fall is also about slowing down and restoring the body. The warm summer season can be a busy one with lots of energy output. So Fall is a lovely season to come back into the body, create healthy cozy rituals and enjoy the change in pace.
Here are some additional tips specific for Fall to help you thrive.
Support Your Liver
The liver is the body’s natural detoxifier and according to Ayurveda, the liver is one of the primary organs in which excess pitta. Pitta is predominant in the summer time and is associated with excess heat in the body. Perhaps your liver also enjoyed a few extra pool-side cocktails over the Summer months! Bare in mind though that the liver not only processes the foods and drinks we ingest, but also many of the chemicals we encounter on a daily basis—to the body lotion we use to the pollutants in the air that we breathe. An overtaxed liver can result in all kinds of illness or dis-ease in the body as it is unable to properly expel toxins and waste matter accumulated in the body. As you ease into the new season, it can be a good idea to focus on natural liver-cleansing foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, turmeric, citrus, beetroot, garlic, walnuts, olive oil, apples, grapes, avocado and fermented foods.
Slow Things Down
Habitual rushing, multitasking, and dealing with information overloads are all too common in the modern world we live in. Just like an overtaxed liver, an overtaxed mind and nervous system can lead to a host of health issues, including adrenal fatigue, insomnia, irregular menstrual cycles, indigestion, and weight gain. High stress levels also play a role in impairing our immune system. To reduce the toxicity created by stress is easy; slowing down. Adjust your schedule so you have time to prepare and eat your meals in a relaxed manner, make time for things like warm baths, time with family, meditation and journalling. Practice saying no to anything that isnt necessary or doesnt serve you in a positive way. Simplify your life so that you have more time for the things that really matter. Autumn is the Earth’s way of telling us and inviting us to slow down and move inwards- so relish this process and make the most of it.
Fall is about nurturing foods and warming foods that are easy on the digestion and filled with plenty of immune-boosting ingredients. Spicy teas and other common spices in cooking such as turmeric, cumin, paprika, garlic, and ginger are recommended to keep the digestive system strong. Healthy cleaning soups and other dishes such as steamed vegetables, quinoa, eggs, broths, roasted root vegetables, sauteed greens are all terrific options moving into Fall. It can be tempting to overeat or move towards ‘comfort foods’ as the seasons change in this direction. Try to eat mindfully and be aware of portions, chewing food well and stopping when you feel satisfied and not overly full. Opt for foods that are comforting by nature and try to steer clear of packaged foods, processed foods and other highly inflammatory foods such as processed meats, conventional dairy, gluten and poor quality oils.
Vitamin D & Sunshine
The human body gets most of its Vitamin D from the sun. It makes sense as we move into Fall that our time outside and exposure to the sun can decrease. A Vitamin D supplement is a good idea through Fall that can help to boost your mood and immune system. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to everything from increased colon cancer risk to anxiety. Foods that can be helpful include fatty fishes (salmon, lake trout, albacore tuna), egg yolks, fortified cereals, and cheese. When it comes to supplementation, chat to your doctor to see what kind of dosage is best for you. Of course, the sun doesn’t entirely disappear over Fall! Rug up and get outside when the sun does come out – a good dose of sunshine can do wonders for our mood and mental health and also plays a role in boosting the immune system, so don’t miss out just because the temperature has dropped!
Moisturise, Moisturise, Moisturise
Autumn in Ayurveda is associated with vata. Vata notoriously is associated with dryness- dry skin, dry hair, dry lips- all of which are common when moving into the cooler seasons. Keep your skin well hydrated and well moisturised with a good quality moisturiser both morning and night. Natural oils such as coconut oil and sesame oil are also terrific on your skin and offer a host of nourishing benefits. Invest in a good quality natural lipbalm and travel size hand cream that you can carry with you to use when your hands or lips start to suffer. Don’t forget to also hydrate your skin from the inside out. As the weather cools it can be hard to keep up your water intake. Try to opt for room temperature water, and also increase your herbal tea intake if you have trouble with water through the cooler months.
Slowing down and investing in rest and self care practices is important in the transition to Fall. However, that doesn’t mean letting go of exercise! Getting into an early workout routine will guarantee you stay on top of your health regimen and also free you up for more downtime in the afternoons to relax and unwind. If you tend to keep active outdoors in the warmer months, investing in a gym membership or membership at a local yoga studio can be helpful when Fall comes around and the inclination to step outside is less appealing! Regular workouts can help clear your Fall blues, flush illness-causing bacteria out of the body and also help keep stress in check.
Fall is the perfect time to boost your natural immunity and give your body the best chance at defending yourself against illness. Try also boosting your diet with foods that are naturally orange, red, yellow and deep greens. Think pumpkin, squash, oranges, carrots, lemons- these serve up plenty of vitamins C, A, and folate, which all help fortify your immune system. Fatty fish and eggs are both are rich in vitamin D, which activates the immune system when germs invade. Nuts and seeds offer a healthy dose of vitamin E, an antioxidant that also works to keep infections at bay. Garlic, ginger, chili, citrus, broccoli, spinach, capsicums, turmeric and green tea are all superfoods when it comes to boosting immunity and warding off inflammation in the body.
Prioritise Your Sleep Cycle
Although the mornings are darker as Fall sets in, experts agree that sticking to the same rising time is important to keep your circadian rhythms in balance. While you may feel like hitting the snooze button a few extra times, keeping the same bed time and rise time year round is the best way to get the recommended seven to eight hours of restful, restorative sleep each night.
Even falling short on sleep for a few days lowers your defenses against germs and makes you more susceptible to getting sick. The body does the majority of its rest and repair while you sleep. Start your day with some gentle movement, a nourishing breakfast and a simple gratitude practice- you’ll be raring to start the day no matter the morning or time of the year!