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Fall into Self-Care

7 simple strategies to beat seasonal stress.

By Dr. Debra Rouse

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Fall is my favorite season, yet it is also a time when I heap extra stress upon myself. With the coming holidays and festivities, do you tend toward stress and excess? More spending, more socializing, more eating, more drinking, less sleep, less exercise? During this time of year, many of us tend to put others’ needs before our own, too, neglecting our self-care habits. Let’s change that. These easy-to-implement strategies will help you put self-care first and get ahead of the stress before it takes you down.

See also Holistic Holidays.

1. Unschedule Yourself

When you pack your days with an overabundance of “to-dos,” you often forget the “to-yous.” Create space each day for self-care and unexpected joy. Consider late morning or early afternoon for an intentional timeout to read, journal, take a walk, meditate or call a loved one. 

2. Stick to Your Budget

Overspending is never “worth it.” It will only leave you stressed, worried and remorseful. Create a reasonable budget that is within your means, and stick to it. The “splurge now, pay later” mentality will eventually diminish your mental, emotional and physical health.

3. Eat Mindfully

One of my favorite self-care tricks is the Okinawan practice of hara hachi bu, eating until you are 80 percent full. When combined with eating slowly and mindfully, this practice will keep you from overeating and, as a result, you will feel better, sleep better and be less likely to put on extra weight around the holidays. 

See also How to Eat with Intention

4. Take a Walk. 

Get off the treadmill and into nature if possible. If you don’t live near a forest or a park, take a moment to simply bask under the canopy of one tree—it may energize you. A bit of sun exposure may also elevate your mood and boost your immunity.

5. Practice Yoga

Taking the concept of standing under a tree one step further, tree post—or Vrksasana—balances and tones the body and mind. This yoga pose is especially awesome when you’re feeling off-balance or if you find yourself sitting for long periods throughout the day. It brings you back to center and instills a sense of self-confidence. 

See also The Joy of Yoga

6. Be Grateful

Set aside time to reflect and record in a journal all the people and things that helped you grow throughout the year. Acknowledge all that you are grateful for. 

7. Pamper Yourself

Take a bath with several drops of lavender, rose and ylang-ylang essential oils. Treat yourself to a massage or pedicure—or both. Embrace the midday siesta with a 20- to 30-minute nap. Doing so allows the body to recover from extra demands you may be placing on yourself during the fall months.

The more you give to yourself in the form of self-care, the more fully and joyfully you can give to others during this special time of year.

Debra Rouse

Dr. Debra Rouse is a licensed naturopathic doctor and member of the Institute of Functional Medicine.

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