Four Ways to Boost Your Mental Health This Fall
Rebecca Robin, IIN Content Editor
The fall season brings about an air of change as leaves change colors and the air gets a bit crisper. It’s a season of new beginnings, which can be exciting but can also provoke feelings of anxiety and stress. It’s important to stay grounded during times of change and find stability in familiar rituals and calming activities.
Your mental health can be affected by many areas of your life, such as your environment, your relationships, the food you eat, and the movement you partake in. The back-to-school season can feel hectic, pulling your attention in many different directions, even if you’re not going back to school!
This is the perfect opportunity to cut through the noise by curating a clear list of priorities and focusing on nurturing your health and well-being. This will allow you to be more present in your life and more present for others.
Here’s a four-step plan to boost your mood and your health this fall:
A desk full of scattered papers and folders or kitchen counters stacked with pots and pans can be super distracting, especially when spending so much time at home. An organized space can revitalize your routine, boost productivity, and improve your mood.
Dedicate a weekend afternoon to start getting things in order and alleviate some of the stress that comes from living in a cluttered space. You can start by cleaning out your desk drawers or purchasing a folder organizer for spare papers. This can help you approach the workday with a clear mind and a focused mind-set.
You may also want to consider rearranging your furniture or trying out some new décor to enhance your space. Redecorating can be a simple, hassle-free experience when you make a list of the things that are most important to you. Have you been eyeing a new lamp for your bedroom? Will that new rug make the living room feel cozier? Simple changes can do wonders for how you feel in your home!
2. Take advantage of nature and enjoy seasonal activities.
There’s something refreshing about taking a trip to an outdoor orchard and picking fresh apples or pumpkins. This is a great way to connect with nature, a natural mood booster. When we breathe in fresh air, we raise oxygen levels in the brain, releasing serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes a state of well-being.
A day spent picking apples is a perfect opportunity to bond with friends and family members of all ages. It’s also a fun way to connect with your inner child, whether you end up jumping in a pile of leaves or enjoying the crisp fall breeze.
It’s also the season to watch the foliage change from vibrant green to incredible hues of orange, yellow, and red. Take the time to really watch as nature changes its course as it can be a therapeutic experience.
3. Try some new seasonal recipes.
Potatoes, turnips, beets, butternut squash, and other root vegetables are all in season as well as apples, pears, and figs. Fall is best celebrated with wholesome dishes that leave you feeling warm and satisfied, so try this butternut squash soup or an oat and buckwheat cinnamon bowl.
There are so many ways to experiment with fall flavors while also creating dishes that bring essential nutrients and stability to the body.
Here are some of the best mental health benefits from your favorite fall foods:
Apples: high in phytonutrients, preventing DNA damage, and high in fiber
Pumpkin: contains minerals that boost brain function as well as the amino acid tryptophan, which helps the brain produce serotonin
Turmeric: contains healing and anti-inflammatory qualities that can reduce symptoms of depression
Cinnamon: helps regulate blood sugar, which stabilizes mood
Nutmeg: contains myristicin, a naturally occurring compound that can have relaxing effects on the body
4. Bring fall indoors with seasonal scents.
Aromas like lavender or jasmine can soothe your senses and calm your mind. The many scents associated with fall – like cinnamon spice, baked apples, rose, and chamomile – can help bring on relaxation as well as spark some joy in any room of the house. Pleasant aromas can also take your mind off stressful thoughts as the scent can transport you to a more peaceful and relaxing moment.
Aromatherapy, often used to reduce anxiety and stress, is commonly used in massage therapy or yoga practices. Essential oils stimulate the smell receptors in your nose, sending messages to your body’s nervous system to promote feelings of calm. The scent released by oils affects the hypothalamus, the part of your brain that influences your hormonal system. This impacts your mood, metabolism, and stress levels – all key components of mental health.
Though you may not necessarily be involved in the back-to-school experience of fall, it can still be a time to start fresh and work toward new goals. This mind-set can be applied by committing to do more meal prep, working on improving your running time, or taking steps toward earning a promotion at work.
Who knows? Your next step could set you on your journey toward living your happiest, most health-centered, focused life. Check out an IIN Sample Class today to learn how a Health Coach education can help put you on this path, empowering you to make healthier choices every day.