416: Why Autumn can be Tricky for Anxiety Sufferers
In this episode we’re talking about why Autumn provokes anxiety and how you can protect yourself and stay calm and grounded.
Autumn can be a challenging season. For those who love the heat of the sun and long, light evenings it can be difficult to accept the crisper days and darker evenings Autumn brings.
According to Ayurveda Autumn is Vata season
Autumn is the most challenging season for anxiety sufferers because it’s Vata season vata is one of the three body types of Ayurveda. Vata governs all movement in the mind and body. From the blinking of our eyes, to the inhalation and exhalation of our breath, the movement of blood through our veins and the flow of our thoughts through our mind - vata is the governing principle for all movement.
Read on for our tips on a Calm and Healy Autumn
Get in step with the season
When we live closer to nature we naturally adjust with the seasons. Harvesting apples, nuts, pumpkins and firewood are all part of the natural transition to Autumn. But we, in our heated homes and cars, tend to move through life in an artificial climate controlled mono-season. We do the same things and eat the same things all year round.
According to Ayurveda, each season brings it's benefits and challenges and knowing them helps us keep in step with nature and take better care of our bodies and minds.
Get outside and walk, stretch and breathe. Make as much of the daylight as you can as the nights draw in.
When outside, be sure that you’re warm and keep your ears covered if the weather is windy.
Things to Avoid in Autumn Season:
Phase out cold foods:
- breakfast smoothies
- cold drinks (no ice)
Avoid skipping meals or fasting
Eat seasonal foods:
The nuts, pumpkins and squashes coming into season are rich with the properties that help us create a healthy Autumn. Baked apples with cloves and cinnamon are rich with vitamin C. Hot apple juice with ginger protects us from colds.
Avoid late nights
Make your evenings as relaxing as possible, stay away from screens and try and be in bed by 10pm.
Eat regular nourishing meals
Warm wet breakfasts are perfect for Autumn. Oatmeal with almond milk and cinnamon, or a date and almond shake made from soaked dates and hot almond milk blended together with warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
(Nutmeg is a natural sedative that calms the heart - so is a perfect addition for anxiety sufferers.)
Other meals perfect for calming vata include baked potatoes, or sweet potato with vegetable soup. Rice with steamed vegetables with warming spices like cumin and a splash of olive oil. Mung dal with rice. Vegetable stews.
Warm, wet and slightly oily are the key words to remember for a vata-pacifying diet.
Ayurveda’s Home Remedy for Autumn and Anxiety
Autumn is the perfect time to learn the simple practice of oil massage. Ayurveda recommends massaging oils into the body at any time of the year, but Autumn is particularly important as it’s the season where chills can easily enter the body. Rubbing a thin protective film of oil over your body nourishes your skin, muscles and nervous system.
Ayurvedic massage is good for anxiety because it is calming to the nervous system and it improves sleep.
Traditionally this massage is performed in the morning before taking a shower as this helps to rid the body of stagnation and toxins that may have built up during the night.
How to try oil massage for yourself
Practice oil massage in a warm room and stand or sit on an old towel to protect the floor and prevent you from slipping.
Pour some of your chosen oil into the palm of your hand and then rub your hands together vigorously to warm the oil and spread it evenly over your palms.
Now rub the oil lightly over your entire body (or as much of it as you can reach, don’t worry, the more you practice, the more you will be able to stretch and reach). It’s recommended to wait a few minutes to let some of the oil soak into your skin. If you have time to spare, now would be a good time to practise some gentle stretching or deep breathing.
Now begin rubbing and massaging your body. Use long firm strokes on your limbs and circular patters over the joints, go lightly over your stomach and chest.
Now take a warm shower, be careful not to slip if you’ve oiled your feet, you might put the towel you oiled up on in the bottom of your shower and wash it when you’re done.
Sesame or almond oil is perfect for self-massage. Try and use cold pressed organic oil for maximum benefit. When sesame oil is absorbed into the skin it is very nourishing to the tissues of the body. We recommend Pukka Herbs or Banyan Botanicals massage oils.
Oil massage balances the dry and cold nature of Autumn, it also balances the moving nature of Autumn by the stillness of the practice, and it balances lightness by grounding touch, which is always beneficial for calming anxiety.
Take warm baths (listen to something relaxing: gentle music, a podcast or audiobook, or a guided relaxation - so you’re not stuck in the bath with your mind!)
- magnesium or Epsom salts
Baths balance the dry nature of Autumn.
Make a nest
Make evenings calm and grounded, gentle and restful. Make a soft, warm space with cushions and a blanket where you feel secure to read and relax.
Relaxing with a heavy blanket balances the light and moving nature of Autumn.
Protect yourself from taking on too much
Anxiety and overwhelm go hand in hand. Autumn invites us to retreat into deeper self-care wherever possible.
Rest and retreat balances the moving and changing nature of Autumn.
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