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Embracing Autumn: Working with the Changes Happening to the Human Body

The Fall season brings about a symphony of vibrant colors, cooler temperatures, and a shift in our daily routines. Beyond the external transformations, this magical season also brings changes to our bodies. Remember, our bodies are wise and always trying to bring us back to homeostasis. There are fascinating modifications that occur within us as we transition from the warmth of summer to the crispness of fall. We can learn to work with these changes or against them.

Regulating Body Temperature

As the temperatures drop, our bodies respond by adapting to the cooler climate. One noticeable change is that our blood vessels constrict to conserve heat and prevent excess heat loss through the skin. This can lead to cooler extremities, such as hands and feet, as blood flow is redirected towards vital organs. Embrace cozy clothing and warm beverages to keep your body comfortable during this transition.

Autumn is classically when the fire element has gotten quite high from summer intensity. And if blood vessels begin to constrict and move more blood to the core of the body, then in the middle of this constriction process, it can feel very uncomfortable for people if there’s too much fire element in the body. Therefore, many people also embark on some type of cleanse after the Fall Equinox. Eliminating the extra fire, not to mention all the summer margaritas, can bring more joy and gratitude. However, you want to make sure that your immune system is strong at the end of a cleanse. This is why many people hire me for Ayurvedic cleanses in the Fall. It’s surprisingly relaxing, and having a clear head as an added bonus makes you wonder why you would live any other way.

Immune System Boost

With the arrival of autumn also comes an upswing in common colds and flu. However, our bodies are well-prepared for this seasonal change. The immune system becomes more active, and our natural defense mechanisms kick into high gear. As a result, our bodies produce more white blood cells to fight off infections, keeping us healthier during these cooler months.

Changes in Sleep Patterns

The diminishing daylight hours observed in autumn can influence our natural sleep patterns. The reduced exposure to sunlight affects our body's production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Consequently, it may take longer to fall asleep or feel more lethargic during the day. It's essential to establish a relaxing nighttime routine, limit screen time before bed, and ensure your sleeping environment supports restful sleep. One of my longtime clients luxuriates in a fancy weighted blanket to help her fall asleep. If you get solid sleep, then so much more goes well for your body, mind and spirit.

Skin and Hair Adjustments

The transition to autumn also brings changes to our skin and hair. As the air becomes drier, our skin tends to lose moisture, leading to dryness, flakiness, and potential irritation. Counteract this effect by using hydrating moisturizers and adapting skin care routines to nourish and protect the skin. Similarly, hair may become more brittle and prone to static due to decreased humidity levels. Incorporating deep conditioning treatments can help retain moisture and manage frizz during this season. In Ayurveda, we will literally put cooking oil like sunflower, sesame or coconut anywhere on the body – scalp, up the nose, in the ears, you name the place – preferably before a shower (but be careful not to slip in the shower). It will hydrate you, and as an added bonus, you will feel calmer than you have in years.

Alterations in Dietary Preferences

Autumn brings a bounty of seasonal produce, and our bodies naturally seek warmth and comfort in culinary choices. Cravings for hearty, warming foods often emerge, leading to increased consumption of pumpkin, squash, root vegetables, and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. These ingredients provide essential vitamins, tastes and textures that support our body's nutritional and humoral (dosha) needs during this time of year. Fall spices are there for a reason: cinnamon helps with circulation and nutmeg helps you sleep.

Here's a podcast episode you might enjoy about the Fall Season Feels.

As nature prepares for its annual slumber during autumn, our bodies undergo some changes in response to the shifting environmental cues. From thermoregulation to immune system adjustments, sleep patterns, skin and hair adaptations, and even food preferences, our bodies gracefully adapt to the transition. Embrace these changes and embrace the beauty of autumn.

It can be both beautiful and sad to see the leaves fall from the trees, but alas: destruction always leads to creation. I'm reminded of some lines from Rumi:

"Very little grows on jagged rock.

Be ground.

Be crumbled

so wildflowers will come up where you are."

The poets always seem to know.

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