Holistic self-care for the darker nights
The clocks have gone back and the evenings grow darker. Now is a time to be cozy, snug and warm. Every cycle and season has its place, purpose and appeal. Not always embraced by all, people can feel mentally and emotionally challenged at a time of seasonal change. With the sunlight growing dimmer, SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder, anxiety and depression can be on the increase. So how can you invest in your mental and emotional health at this time?
Here are 7 self-care suggestions which embody the spirit of Autumn:
Flow with the cycles and seasons of life. Our rhythms are intrinsically linked to the rhythms of nature. Flowing with that seasonal change, is a great practice in accepting change in general. Change is inevitable and acceptance brings peace. We create our own suffering by holding onto things or wanting things to be different from what they are. Acceptance doesn’t mean liking or giving up or satisfied, it just means non-resistance and accepting what is right now as a starting point. Acceptance is a precondition for healing.
Autumn is the season to slow down, to reconnect with ourselves, with one another and with nature. This slowing down also allows us the space to feel more present and alive. Hygge, the inspiring Danish philosophy celebrates simplicity and appreciation for the small things in life around us. Worth considering, as they are consistently the happiest nation in the world. Hygge is all about self-care, atmosphere, comfort, warmth and simple pleasures. Retreat at home, get comfortable, warm and snug. Create atmosphere with soft light, music, cosy cushions and blankets. Enjoy boosting your immune system with nourishing soups and stews from the abundance of the season. Get out for refreshing walks and kick up crisp, golden leaves. Natural light is essential for your health and counteracts SAD, boosting well-being.
Practicing gratitude creates a positive mental shift every time. Gratitude activates neurotransmitters Serotonin and Dopamine which are powerful natural anti-depressants. Start a gratitude journal and capture 3 things everyday for which you are grateful. This simple practice increases Serotonin levels by a significant 10% after 3 weeks according to research. The Gratitude 365 App is a great electronic alternative. Express gratitude to somebody. Research found a 4-19% increase in levels of happiness when gratitude is expressed to a person.
Take an attitude with gratitude into a mindfulness meditative practice. Reflect firstly on a person you are grateful for, secondly an event you are grateful for, thirdly something about yourself you are grateful for. In your meditation (Podcast here), focus on the feeling of gratitude rather than the story.
4. Thought Awareness
Certain modes of thinking can drive negative emotional states:
‘Should’ and ‘must’ type thoughts as well as ‘why don’t they…’ place high expectations on ourselves or others and are frustration drivers.
‘Always’ and ‘never’ type thinking pushes us into the extreme (e.g. “I am always helping you and you never help me”) and are anger drivers.
Catastrophising (‘what if’ type thoughts or beliefs that something is far worse than it actually is) creates anxiety.
‘All or nothing’ or ‘black and white’ or ‘right or wrong’ or ‘nobody’ and ‘everybody’ type thoughts – absolutes rather than shades of grey – (e.g. nobody cares) are depression drivers.
Sometimes these thoughts are habitual thoughts that perpetuate the disempowering victim state. Bring the nature of your thoughts into your awareness. Are they helpful or harmful? Let your thoughts be kind, compassionate and reassuring to yourself as if you are your own best friend.
Autumn is a time of reflection. Reflect back over the year, your achievements, your experiences. Even the challenges have been part of your growth. A key practice in Timeline Therapy™ is to reflect on the learning experiences of past events. You can do your own daily reflection by asking yourself:
What was good about today?
What was not so good?
What am I learning from it?
What will I be doing different next time?
Then after your reflection, let it go. Sometimes you may have to bring compassion and forgiveness to yourself and others. You will feel a weight lifting and the release can be very healing.
6. Letting go
Autumn is a time of letting go, just like the leaves falling from the trees. Nature offers a great metaphor here. As you observe the leaves fall, notice the trees are not holding on to the leaves, nor are the leaves holding onto the trees. The leaves just fall effortlessly. Just like that, what do you want to let go of? Physically, any toxins, emotionally, any unsettling feelings and mentally, excessive thoughts. Set the intention to let it go. There is power in the words: “I release…(e.g. this anger)…”. Releasing brings relief and makes space for joy to return.
Let go of the need to control too. A major source of suffering is wanting things ‘my way’. Everything happens for our own learning and growth. We can’t always see it when we’re in it. Soon you’ll see how you have grown through it.
Let go of the importance of other people’s opinions too. They are just opinions, not truths. When you attach too much value to their opinions you are giving your power away. Liberate yourself from others’ opinions and give yourself the permission to just be your true self. That brings happiness.
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde
Stress, fears and limiting beliefs can create physical dis-ease. Bruce Lipton says that more than 95% of all modern day illnesses in the body are caused by mental stress. There is a strong link between our mental health and our connection with nature. Embrace nature and all its elements. Getting out and enjoying nature is refreshing and has many healing benefits. Movement, like walking, is a great anti-depressant as it triggers Serotonin, the happy hormone. An upright body posture has an empowering effect on the mind whilst one slumped over a gadget makes us more lethargic and withdrawn. Autumn is a great time for social interaction. The Happiness Institute of Denmark have found that it may well be the Danes’ social relationships that make them happiest, and that Hygge puts small social gatherings at it’s heart. Invite friends over, share a meal and re-establish meaningful mutually supportive relationships.
For the mindful approach to healing and releasing emotions, you can listen to our guided meditation: Healing Emotions the Mindful Way. Follow this link to our Products: Transformational Meditations page.
Time Line Therapy™
Sometimes we need a little assistance to heal and release emotions of the past. In my experience Time Line Therapy™ is unique in its approach to emotional healing and resolves issues remarkably quickly without having to go into a lot of details. Time Line Therapy™ is equally effective in overcoming limiting beliefs and building empowering beliefs and confidence. For more information click on this link: Time Line Therapy™.
Lifting the Veils of Illusion
This book facilitates an all-encompassing journey of personal empowerment and spiritual growth in 7 essential steps. It is an informative, interactive guide so you can navigate the path of self-healing and transformation in your own comfortable way. With the book you have access to a range of free meditations …