Give your wellbeing a refresh this autumn
A shift in seasons signals all manner of changes, says SAM WYLIE-HARRIS
MUCH as we love the blue skies, beach vibes and long, lazy days of summer, there’s something about the first signs of autumn that stirs the senses.
Whether it’s the chill in the air as you step into the low autumn sun, the first stroke of a woolly jumper, or that back-to-school, slightly nervy, excited feeling – it’s time to press the refresh button and show yourself a little selflove.
Indeed, Marisa Peer, therapist, relationship expert and bestselling author, says many people think of September as a better time to make resolutions than New Year.
“The summer holidays are over and it’s the beginning of the new academic year – think back to the reboot this offered you as a child – new uniform and shoes, new pencil case and stationery, plus a move into another year group or different school completely.
“The perfect time to start over and re-invent yourself,” says Marisa.
From finding purpose to taking a holistic approach, experts share their top tips for making the most of the transition...
SET SOME GOALS
“As the days get shorter, people find they have more time on their hands as everyone retreats indoors,” notes Marisa. “Instead of binge-watching the latest Netflix series or giving in to snacking temptations, use it as a springboard to reset your mental and physical wellbeing.”
Begin by writing down and reassessing any goals you set for yourself at the start of the year, she suggests. Ask yourself what worked and what didn’t.
“Think about the reasons behind not achieving these – perhaps you were over-ambitious and gave yourself too many? This can feel overwhelming and set you up for failure from the start.
“Or perhaps you couldn’t muster up the willpower to see it through.”
Marisa suggests writing these blockers down and, against each one, think of a solution. Then focus on one or two goals that seem the most attainable.
Make a vision board, using pictures to reflect your goals.
“Not only will this help keep you going, but it can represent the start of a commitment to journaling, which is recognised as having a positive impact on mental wellbeing,” she continues. “Vision boards are very motivating and help you work towards and manifest your goals.
ENJOY A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD
Marisa points out lots of us try to lose weight for our holidays – but once summer’s over and we can hide behind oversized jumpers, it’s tempting to revert to comfort eating.
“One of the biggest reasons diets fail is that our motivation is about what we look like, rather than what we feel like,” she observes.
“Vegetarians don’t have a high failure rate, as the motivation to be vegetarian is rarely to do with physical appearance.
“Focus on health, vitality and energy, then it becomes who you are – and not what you do,” says Marisa. “Now is the time to make healthy eating a consistent part of your life, rather than something you do just to lose weight. This approach will boost both your mental and physical wellbeing.”
WALK IN NATURE AND LEARN FROM ITS CHANGES
Mariel Witmond, yoga instructor and founder of wellbeing platform Mindful Sonder, advises we all head outside this autumn.
“By walking around the changing trees, we can learn to stand firmly grounded, unfazed by our falling leaves, as unobstructed views give us a renewed perspective on things we may have previously missed, or forgotten.
“When we learn to get in tune with nature, we can start to move more freely through the inevitable changes both life and each season brings,” suggests Mariel. “Autumn is a season of transformation; a time of letting go, surrender.”
She says surrender is what happens when we let go of the notion we ‘should’ be able to manage and control our situation. It happens when we release the belief that things should be different to how they are. “We let go of our thoughts of the future and allow ourselves to be fully rooted in the moment,” says Mariel. “To many, surrender is a sign of vulnerability, when in fact it takes a lot of strength and courage, and this doesn’t mean giving up.” Quite the contrary. She says surrender teaches us to be present, to process, to allow what we cannot control, or change, to be – and through this, we regain our power, propelling us to action. “Be with nature to embrace the vulnerability of the season,” encourages Mariel.
When it comes to decluttering, we usually think about this in relation to our homes or wardrobes, says Marisa, but she thinks a friendship de-clutter is something worth considering – even if it sounds a little harsh.
“If you find yourself involved with toxic people or those you’ve outgrown, you’re not doing your wellbeing any favours by feeling obligated to them.”
“It’s a mistake to gauge self-worth and popularity by the number of friends we have – it’s about quality and not quantity,” says Marisa. She says friends should be people who respect our boundaries, aren’t offended if we turn down an invitation and who we trust with our secrets.
“We look forward to spending time with them, but it doesn’t feel like a duty. The litmus test is to ask whether we enjoy a friend’s company or whether we feel drained of energy after spending time with them – nothing influences you like the company you keep.”
She continues: “And it’s OK to grow apart from people. Now is a good time to re-think your friendship groups. It’s also a good time to make new friends, as many evening classes or local groups start up in September after a summer break.”
Toxic people or those you’ve outgrown, aren’t doing your wellbeing any favours
FIND YOUR INNER RHYTHM
Meanwhile, Sophie Kerr of Soulful Living, a holistic wellbeing practitioner, says the seasons have a beautiful way of mirroring our own lives.
A subtle reminder the only constant is change – and how nature teaches us all we need to know to find our rhythm and flow.
“In the same way animals and plants use their own biological clocks to know when to hibernate, humans have circadian rhythms.
“By working in harmony with the sleep-wake cycle, our sleep improves, increasing mental wellbeing and energy levels, as well as improving our immune system.”
Sophie says to boost your circadian rhythm and get a restful and restorative sleep (aim for seven to nine hours per night), it’s important to get plenty of natural daylight, which will also give your vitamin D a boost.
“Get up at the same time every day,” she suggests.
“Exercise – outside if possible – avoid caffeine after noon, switch off tech in the evening, eat at regular mealtimes and limit food and alcohol before bed.”
Relationship expert, Marisa Peer