by Mairi Taylor
I asked the leaf whether it was frightened because it was autumn and the other leaves were falling.
The leaf told me, “No.
During the whole spring and summer I was completely alive.
I worked hard to help nourish the tree, and now much of me is in the tree.
I am not limited by this form.
I am also the whole tree, and when I go back to the soil, I will continue to nourish the tree.
So I don’t worry at all. As I leave this branch and float to the ground, I will wave to the tree and tell her, ‘I will see you again very soon’.”
That day there was a wind blowing and, after a while, I saw the leaf leave the branch and float down to the soil, dancing joyfully,
because as it floated it saw itself already there in the tree. It was so happy. I bowed my head, knowing that I have a lot to learn from the leaf.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Autumn - 22nd September ‘till 21st December - the season of harvesting; the tree leaves changing colour and falling to the ground; the temperature grows colder; plants stop making food; animals prepare for the long months ahead; and the days grow shorter. It’s a time of the year for harvesting all that we planted in the spring and summer and letting go, just like the leaves, of what no longer serves us.
This season is also used as a metaphor for the menopause, that season in a woman’s life when she too stops bearing fruit and releases what no longer serves her. I know, for many women, it can feel like a time of despair and some of you may be wondering what does this have to do with wellbeing? Well, what I’ve come to realise through my own transition and the work I do with other women, is that when we look after ourselves the autumn season can be a time of bountiful harvesting.
As we come out of summer into autumn, it’s important to keep your immune system boosted. Did you know that the drop in oestrogen just before your period, and during perimenopause and post menopause, can impact your immunity and make you more susceptible to all those bugs flying about?
So how can we keep our immune system boosted whoever we are?
Stay hydrated – keep drinking your lemon water – many people find that with the cooler weather they drink less water. It’s important, though to keep drinking. Warm water with lemon and ginger or any herbal tea will help keep you hydrated. I love warming home-made apple juice with ginger, cinnamon, apple cider vinegar & cloves to create a delicious warming drink. Staying hydrated will also help keep you moving freely as it lubricates the connective tissue around your joints.
Keep up your veggie and fruit intake so that you are flooding your body with all those delicious nutrients and plant-based goodies that keep your system’s defences fully charged. Too cold for salads? Roasted veggies, home-made soups and lots of steamed greens with your dinner will support your gut health which is vital for boosting your immunity. Why not think about taking a probiotic to support your gut health to keep your good bacteria topped up. Eating prebiotics like garlic and onions (add them to your roasted veggies) helps you grow your own good bacteria. This means that eating as much fresh, homemade foods is best for your immunity – and as we get busier how about doing a big cook off at the weekend or making double portions of your home-made foods and freezing the extra?
On the flipside, I’m going to make myself unpopular but reducing your refined sugar intake (yes, I know we have Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas coming) will really help you look after your immunity. Too much sugar causes inflammation in the body and can impact your gut health feeding the bad bacteria, so I do invite you to find other ways to treat yourself – adding cinnamon to foods helps add sweetness and reduces your sweet-tooth cravings.
Don’t forget the good fats and please don’t be afraid of eating good Omega3 from oily fish, walnuts or avocado for your hormone and brain health (obviously in line with any recommendations you have been given by your health care professional).
Boost your VitC. Not only is it good for fighting off colds and winter bugs, it can also support your adrenal health (really important if you are feeling the effects of long-term chronic stress), and essential for collagen production to help your skin’s elasticity and your joints moving freely.
Keeping moving and getting outdoors every day to feel the sun on your face and help boost your VitD is essential for your health and wellbeing but so is resting. Just like the leaf gently falling, sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to gently fall to the earth and rest, to retreat, replenish and reset.
Boosting your autumn & winter wellbeing in this way will also support any women starting to feel the changes that come with perimenopause and menopause so we come back in the spring stronger brighter and ready to bloom again in the summer