by Kathi Szabo

Have you noticed the leaves beginning to show a hint of autumn colors? Are you feeling a slight chill in the air? A slower pace? The quietness at the beach?

As the leaves change colors and the air becomes crisp, fall offers the perfect opportunity to indulge in some self-care.

Taking a Cue From the Trees

Did you know trees  shed their leaves to care for themselves in the upcoming winter? It’s a survival strategy. Letting go of their leaves, they conserve energy. We can also let go, shed our negative thoughts and unhealthy habits. Releasing what no longer serves us and instead create space for positivity and growth.

Trees often appear bare and vulnerable after shedding their leaves. But, this period of rest prepares them for growth in the spring. It’s a reminder that sometimes, letting go and resting can lead to renewal and future growth. We too must bare our vulnerability in order to renew and rejuvenate. Through our openness, we can recharge, restore balance, and nurture our physical and mental health.

Trees shed their leaves as part of a natural cycle. This shedding is a form of transformation. It’s a reminder that change is a natural and necessary part of life. Self-care also involves recognizing the need for change and transformation within oneself. A natural cycle of personal growth and exploration, acknowledging our emotional, mental, and physical needs and making adjustments to promote well-being.

In essence, both self-care and trees shedding their leaves in the fall emphasize the importance of recognizing the need for change, letting go of what no longer serves us, and embracing transformation as a natural part of life. Autumn serves as a powerful reminder that self-nurturing and adapting to change are essential for overall well-being and growth, whether on a personal or natural level.

Fall Into Self-Care – Fall Into YOU!

As Autumn makes her arrival, make time for you. Make time for Self-Care. If you need a few ideas, here are some of my favorite self-care ideas for this cozy time of year. Why not show yourself compassion and love. Why not Fall Into YOU!

Warm and Nourishing Drinks

Here’s an easy idea. Swap your usual beverages for comforting autumn-inspired drinks. Sip on hot apple cider, pumpkin spice lattes, or herbal teas. These cozy beverages will not only warm your body but also lift your spirits.

This year I’ve dried my own herbs and plan to make some interesting and healthy teas using Mullein, a common weed found in many parts off the US. But I must say, it’s everywhere at Eclectic Sanctuary. Makes me feel like the universe is telling me to use it! Mullein is a natural herbal remedy with antiseptic qualities, meaning it prevents the growth of disease-causing germs. Research has found that it is effective at fighting pneumonia, staph and E. coli bacteria. Other studies indicate that it has antiviral properties as well and may help in slowing the flu. If you’d like to give it a try this flue and cold season, let me know. I’m going to be selling it online! The combination I made last week with raspberry leaves was absolutely delicious without any sugar!

Nature Walks

Why not take advantage of the vibrant fall foliage by going on nature walks. The colorful scenery and crisp air make for an ideal backdrop to clear your mind, reduce stress, and reconnect with nature.  Perhaps find a bench, or log or clearing and just sit. In forest bathing, we call this a “Sit Spot.” It’s simply sitting and observing what is around us. Connecting with nature and noticing the change in colors, the freshness of the fall air.

Another option, which  I am lucky enough to have here in Michigan, is to take a fall walk on the beach! In NJ, you could take a walk “down the shore” just as easily. Notice the quiet without the summer crowds. Listen to the waves. The call of the birds. Soak up the sun and the colors of the water. Take your shoes off and feel the coolness of the sand in your toes. The beach is a beautiful place to be in the fall.

Cozy Reading:

When was the last time you curled up with a good book and a soft blanket? Whether it’s a classic novel, a mystery thriller, or a non-fiction title, reading can transport you to different worlds and provide much-needed relaxation. It allows you to escape from the stresses of daily life and instead immerse yourself in a different world.

But did you know reading has many other benefits. Fiction reading can expose you to different perspectives, cultures and human experiences fostering our empathy and compassion. Reading before bedtimes can promote better sleep. Books that delve into new ideas or fictional works with deep characters can lead to self-reflection and personal growth.

This fall, start reading again if it hasn’t been a habit. Maybe start with the book Atomic Habits, by James Clear. It’s one of Mark’s favorites! You’ll learn how it’s all about small changes and how those small changes become habits.

Home Décor and Organization:

Our Home is our Sanctuary. A place where we are always welcome. Where we can be our true selves. So why not treat it that way this fall. Get creative by crafting autumn-themed decorations for your home. Try making wreaths, candle holders, or decorative pumpkins. Engaging in DIY decorative projects can be both fun and therapeutic.

Or maybe declutter and organize your living spaces. I love organizing my kitchen. Giving everything a place. It creates a calming feeling instead of chaos when my counters are cluttered with things and appliances.

Or what about decluttering your closet. Are there summer items that never got worn? What fall items no longer seem like you? If they’re in good condition, donate to a second-hand store or a local shelter. Unquestionably, a clean and organized environment has a positive impact on your mental clarity and overall mood.

Comfort Food Cooking:

With the cooler air, Fall is a great time to turn that oven on or spend the day in the kitchen experimenting with fall recipes. Try using seasonal ingredients like butternut squash, apples, and cinnamon. Make a pot of soup. Or maybe a chicken pot pie. Now is the perfect time to test new recipes for the upcoming holidays!

With our abundance of squash this growing season, we have focused on trying new ways to use it. So far we’ve found that Patty Pan Squash paired with tomatoes, feta and some spices makes a great Greek Dish. And that Spaghetti squash is a delightful compliment to Pork Medallions when teamed with ginger and rosemary! I’m looking forward to harvesting our pumpkins and making pumpkin chili and pumpkin soup for the cold winter nights that are coming.

Cooking is something that can be fun and relaxing when we team up with our partner and let ourselves focus on the experience and being together. When you are with someone you love, preparing healthy, homemade meals can be a fulfilling and nurturing experience. And it’s better for our bodies!

Spa Night:

This weekend, why not create a spa-like atmosphere at home. Pampering yourself can help alleviate stress and improve your overall well-being. Start with lighting some candles. Playing soft music. Take a long, hot bath with Epsom salts. Maybe use a facial mask and indulge in a soothing skincare routine. Close your eyes and let your body soak in the warmth of the water.

Afterward rest quietly and practice Yoga Nidra, a relaxing meditation, doing less instead of more. Simply lie in stillness and allow your mind to rest. Your subconscious will awaken.

Mindfulness Activities:

Practicing mindfulness can help us stay grounded as we transition seasons. Look for events in your community like a Sound Bath, Forest Bathing, Outdoor Yoga (before the coolness really sets in), or even a Fall Day Retreat like the one we will be hosting on Oct 14.

Fall Into Healing. Fall Into Nature brings Mindfulness and Nature together for a full day of Self-Care. On this day-long Healing Retreat, you will have the opportunity to experience five different techniques of Ecotherapy: Nature MeditationPhysical Activity (yoga and hiking), Forest BathingAnimal Therapeutics, and Horticulture Therapy. If you are near SW Michigan or up for traveling to our Sanctuary, we still have spaces open. And if you register today, you get another mindfulness activity to use this fall, Mind Training 101 for absolutely FREE!

Short on time? You can still be mindful by simply noticing your breath. For example, one simple breathing exercise I use regularly is breathing deep into the belly to a count of 4, (a count of 3 or 5 works just as well) pause and then slowly release, allowing that exhale to be longer and slower than the inhale. This simple technique engages our parasympathetic nervous system, which is calming and nurturing and where we are our best selves!

Another mindfulness activity is journaling! Writing your desires, feelings or disappointments can help gain clarity and release negative emotions. Or maybe start a gratitude journal to reflect on the things you’re thankful for this fall. Furthermore, expressing gratitude can shift your focus toward positivity and foster a sense of contentment. Think of it as a jump start to Thanksgiving!

Create or Update your Vision Board:

Have you heard of RAS? The Reticular Activating System. Physically it’s the part of the brain that connects the subconscious part of the brain to the conscious part of the brain. See your brain takes in so much information, it must filter out those that it deems important to you and that which is not. For example, if someone tells you to find everything blue in the room and you look around the room, you notice all the blue, but then they ask you what was red, you have no idea because your brain filtered that out.

With a vision board, you are basically telling your brain what to look for. That these things are important to you. It primes your brain to find the opportunities to make it reality!  Obviously, this is why everyone should have a vision board!

What better activity to do on a rainy fall afternoon than to search magazines or the internet for pictures of what you desire. Then putting them on a board and looking at it every day so that your mind can better help you create the opportunity for your desires to become reality!

Embrace the Change

Fall is a wonderful season to prioritize self-care and embrace the changing rhythms of life. By incorporating these self-care ideas into your routine, you can make the most of the autumn season, nurture your well-being, and prepare yourself for the months ahead. Remember, taking care of yourself is a year-round commitment, and it’s essential to cherish the beauty of each season as it comes.