Fall is officially in full swing, and while saying goodbye to summer can be hard, this season is full of its own special magic. Leaves change color, temperatures drop, it’s Halloween in every single store aisle, and, of course, the cult classic pumpkin spice latte finally makes its debut.
The onset of autumn is a transition, however, and it’s one that requires special attention inwards. Our minds and bodies change just as the seasons do, and with the warmth of summer fading and darkness approaching faster now than a few weeks ago, we need to keep our mental health in tip-top shape. What better way is there to do that than with fall-specific self care?
Self-care means something different for everyone, and doing what you know works best for you will ultimately make the greatest impact. But in case you need some inspiration, here are our favorite self-care practices for fall:
I. Cook delicious, healthy meals with seasonal produce.
Eating in tune with the seasons is not only great for body and mind, but for the environment as well. Seasonal produce tastes fresher because it was harvested pretty much right before it landed in your shopping basket, and if you buy local seasonal produce, you’re lowering your carbon footprint because the shipping distance is reduced. Of course, what’s in season will depend on where you live, but most classic fall foods include sweet potato, winter squash, pumpkin, beets, asparagus, carrots, Swiss chard and green beans. These are fantastic ingredients for warm, cozy soups and hearty roasted vegetable dishes!
II. Swap out your summer skincare staples.
Because the air is cooler and gets drier in the fall, your skincare needs will likely shift compared to what they were in the summer. Whereas you might be using light, gel-based moisturizers for the hot summer months, you may find more patches of dry skin come fall, which means you’ll need to opt for a heavier moisturizer. This is also a great time of year to double down on exfoliation, as dry air can contribute to flaky patches of skin.
III. Welcome fall into your home.
Even if you’re not really much of a decorator, lighting some apple pie-scented candles or throwing together some spooky Halloween decor can really liven the mood! Fall is especially fun because of its many themed holidays, and it can be soothing to take a break from real life and spend an hour or two decorating.
IV. Keep the lights on.
Yes, setting a cozy mood is hard when the lights are all on, but we’re going somewhere with this, we promise. During fall, and especially towards the beginning of winter, the days grow shorter. This can lead to what’s known as seasonal affective disorder in some people — essentially, depression or anxiety brought on by the lack of daylight. While the sun is still out, try sitting close to a window with the curtains open to soak in as much of the sun as possible. At night, keeping your living space bright and well-lit can offset some of the negative effects associated with shorter days.
V. Try a mood-boosting exercise.
If the change of seasons and longer periods of darkness shakes up your mood, you can always combat it with science-approved remedies! Things like exercising, meditating, or simply eating a piece of dark chocolate are known to help keep the blues at bay. Check out some of our other favorite mood-boosting exercises here.
VI. Take a hike in the fall foliage.
If you’re lucky enough to live someplace where the leaves show off their fall colors, take advantage of it! Find a hiking trail or local park to enjoy the simple beauty of turning leaves. Getting fresh air and exercise is huge for self-care, as it promotes a better mood and physical health overall.
VII. Keep a gratitude journal.
Journaling is a wonderful method for tuning in with your own thoughts and emotions — and it’s also a perfect excuse to stay home and get cozy. Keeping a gratitude journal allows you to reflect on what you’re grateful for in life, shifting your focus from negative emotions to positive ones. This has actually been found to have positive, tangible effects on people, such as reduced levels of stress and anxiety.For more self-care inspiration, check out our blog to learn about how to take care of yourself so that you can care for others in your life!