Feeling ‘blah’? You’re not alone, but you don’t have to put up with this autumnal apathy. Heed our eight suggestions below to go from sluggish to high spirited. No actual spirits involved, just natural highs here; you’ll be buzzing about falling leaves and such in no time.
Take it outside
According to research carried out last year by The National Trust , more than 40% of us start to notice a dip in our mood as autumn rolls in and the nights get darker. However, when mother nature taketh away, she also giveth, or something along those lines, as the same research also shows that the natural colours of an autumn landscape can make us feel happier, healthier and a lot more zen. Over a third of those surveyed reported that blue tones shadowed with darker autumn light as seen on walks by water helped to soothe away stress, while 50% of people felt that green vistas and walks in woodland helped them to appreciate and feel connected to the natural world. Colour psychologist Angela Wright, who conducted the research, explains that, in terms of uplifting potential, autumn is underrated:
“Natural colour schemes can inspire us. Autumn, combined with the rich light at this time of the year, is a flamboyant blaze of intense colours with each affecting us in a different way.”
“Fresh air, exercise and the sense of getting away from it all play a positive role in improving our well-being, however, it’s the colours that we experience which are the most powerful tonic when it comes to affecting our mood.”
National Trust ranger Gwen Potter spends the majority of her time in the great outdoors, so if anyone is qualified to big up the transformative joys of getting out into nature during the months of autumn, it’s her:
“It’s cooler, but not cold, and on a clear, crisp day everything appears to shine brighter. Autumn bursts with colour and life. It’s the best time to see nature and wildlife at its most spectacular, but it’s also a time of change and reflection.”
You can reap additional wellbeing benefits if you visit or live by the coast, as according to recent research by the good old National Trust in partnership with Cotswold Outdoor , a coastal stroll can help you to sleep for an extra 47 minutes on average. A third of people surveyed reported deeper sleeps after having walked by the coast, while one in three expressed that even just thinking of the sea helped them to nod off. Environmental psychologist and head of qualitative research Eleanor Ratcliffe emphasises the benefits of seaside rambling:
“Coastal walkers are getting more sleep, and are more likely to show increased sleep quality and morning alertness. In addition, coastal walkers associated their walks with family, childhood memories and the anticipation of holidays.”
“It’s clear that there is something special about the coast, particularly as a place to escape to that can allow people to boost their mood, relax and sleep longer.”
Whether or not you can decamp to your nearest cliff, the arrival of autumn is good news for clocking up your sleep quota…
The opposite to taking it outside, but bear with me. Not only do the clocks go back before long, allowing you a kind of dreamy reverse jetlag experience, but longer hours of darkness should in theory make it easier for you to sleep well and less fitfully, while research undertaken by SleepBetter.org reveals that average autumn temperatures provide the optimum environment for sleeping, as it’s neither too hot or nor too cold (15ºC-20ºC is the ideal temperature range for a solid night’s kip). We all know how therapeutic a decent night’s sleep can be, but in case you needed convincing, proper R&R can help you to retain brain cells and feel less stressed overall , among a million other benefits. Early to bed it is.
Early to bed doesn’t always tally with early to rise if mornings are distinctly less bright than they a were a month or two ago. Exposing yourself to bright light in the morning helps to keep your circadian rhythm in check , so if your room is somewhat of a darkened cave when you need to get up, consider doing as the Scandis do and investing in a body clock regulating light lamp . A simulated 30 minute sunrise is far more refreshing than a panic inducing, blaring alarm, and the gradual wake up process makes you less likely to repeatedly bash the snooze button.
Get your daily D
On the subject of darkness, if you’re not getting your 15 minutes a day of sunlight exposure, you could be more prone to vitamin D deficiency , which can in turn affect affect serotonin regulation and has been linked to depression . Up your intake of vitamin D rich foods such as egg yolks, dairy and oily fish, and consider adding in a supplement such as Inner Me Essential Three , which has been formulated to provide you with the vitamins, probiotics and essential healthy fats that you’re most likely to be deficient in, no matter your age, sex or lifestyle: vitamin D, live cultures and high strength omega 3.
Burn the house down
Not really (there are better ways to warm up) but you needn’t venture outdoors to get muscles burning. If the weather is less than enticing and getting outside (see above) is about as enticing as cold kale, workout from the comfort of your front room, but eschew the cheesy DVD for some serious, physique sculpting fitness. Anyone who’s trotted along to a barrecore class knows that they’ll likely waddle home, but in a very satisfied way, as the signature ballet inspired moves fuse cardio with clever muscle toning tricks to leave you exhausted but likely elated, especially after four sessions or so, as that’s when you’ll start seeing the difference in your shape (tight ass ahoy). A month’s worth of online classes should do the trick nicely, and as the workout is low impact, you won’t smash the coffee table or break any furniture. Win win.
Rehab under your own roof
Soothe those aching muscles by taking time to both recover and relax. In summer it’s all too tempting to wash and go, but one of the joys of darker, colder months is lolling in the bath or steaming oneself in the shower to create a home spa situation. ‘I’m washing my hair’ is somehow more of a legit excuse for not attending that thing you didn’t want to go to anyway when autumn arrives, and there’s a bathing unction to suit every whim and requirement.
Need more energy? Lather up with Aromatherapy Associates Revive Body Wash , £25, which will bring senses and stiff limbs to life with a hit of sharp and zippy grapefruit and peppermint. If your intention is to debrief and wind down, Kiss The Moon Glow After Dark Bath Oil , £38, is as good as bathing in sunlight (which can obviously be bad for you but is undeniably immensely pleasurable). An unusual cocktail of myrrh, geranium, orange and litsea (similar to lemongrass and used within Chinese medicine), either massage it directly onto skin before climbing into a warm bath or add to warm bath water itself to feel the restorative, sleep inducing effects. Breathe deeply, think positive thoughts and enjoy sinking into bed with softer skin. Lastly, if a detox is in order, Ila Bath Salts for Cleansing , £49, contains alpine lavender to cleanse and boost circulation, while pure himalayan salt can ease everything from joint pain to eczema (although tread carefully if you’re sensitive to essential oils).
Pour oil on troubled waters
Whether or not you’re in need of saving from the blues, a multitasking tropical oil could be of comfort, especially if used for massage. Pure, virgin coconut oil is one of nature’s finest moisturisers, and at a time when your skin needs quenching due to seasonal weather changes, it can come into its own. Work it into chapped heels and hands, or give the team at Milk Beauty a call. I’ve been assured that their Coconut Summer Body Massage will continue into autumn and beyond due to popular demand, and having experienced it I can say that it’s the perfect treatment for when all you want to do is nest; a masseuse comes to your door, turns your living room into a pleasingly fragranced day spa and you get to choose the music, lighting and other vital factors, while being able to immediately melt into your own sofa afterwards. I particularly relished the coconut oil experience as it’s suitable for sensitive skins and really gets to work on dry, dehydrated skin.
If you don’t live in a London postcode or prefer to DIY, a jar of coconut oil will go far. Try Vita Coco’s 100% organic cold pressed version on toast, in stews and baking, in smoothies, as a makeup remover, as a hair mask or on cuticles. That’s just the beginning; we pretty much discover a new use for it everyday. Bulletproof coffee anyone?
Make a different brew
As a above, we do love a coffee, but leaning on the caffeine crutch to get through dark days can prove counterproductive, as anyone who’s ever experienced ‘the jitters’, mood crashes or americano induced insomnia can testify. Try swapping out one of your daily cups of coffee for a natural energiser such as Pukka Vitalise Powder. A fusion of 30 organic, uplifting botanicals, including ginseng, wheatgrass, green tea and tulsi (I know caffeine addict friends who swear by this stuff), it will give you a gentle lift, minus palpitations. Mix the fruity powder with water or your beverage of choice (nb., not coffee). This gem of a revitaliser, plus Vita Coco Coconut Oil, Inner Me Essential Three and a complimentary barrecore class, or month of online barrecore classes, are all available in our meticulously curated Recharge and Reset health box...
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