Time to look up from your giant PSL and take in the little things all around you. Let’s go.
No season puts us in thoughtful mode quicker than autumn. As the days grow shorter and the air turns crisper, autumn practically invites us to slow down and take in the beauty of the transformation that it’s providing all around us.
So how about embracing it and having a mindful autumn this year? Let’s explore how you can take some time in autumn to slow down, cultivate gratitude, and hopefully improve your wellbeing ahead of the winter months.
The Season of Change and Reflection
Autumn tends to polarise opinions. You’re either a gung-ho autumn-lover frolicking in the leaves wearing a fluffy scarf and your best boots, or you’re feeling a little low and mourning the loss of those warmer, lighter days. Why does it evoke strong feelings? Maybe because autumn is all about change. With its falling leaves and cooler temperatures, combined with the nostalgia of the new academic year, autumn tends to mirror the cycles of life. Whichever camp you’re in, the season of transition is the perfect time to start a mindfulness practice.
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Ways to be Mindful in Autumn
1. Enjoy Autumn’s Palette
Yes, we’re starting here, because it’s important to go back to basics and ground yourself in the natural beauty of the season. Take some leisurely walks through parks and forests to immerse yourself in the colours of autumn. The reds, oranges, and golds of falling leaves show us that change is natural and can be really beautiful.
Even on a grey overcast day, there’s still beauty in the tiny things, such as the red rowan berries that are everywhere this time of year, and the mosses and lichens showing brightly green against a carpet of brown leaves. Learning to see the small stuff is a great start to being more mindful.
2. Start Gratitude Journaling
Actively practising gratitude is really powerful. It’s a small mindset change that can shift your focus from what’s lacking to what’s abundant in your life.
Set aside a few moments each day to jot down things you’re grateful for. It could be as simple as the warmth of a cup of tea on a chilly morning or the kindness of a friend. Keep it up for a few weeks and you might notice a positive difference in your mood.
3. Declutter and Simplify
It’s the perfect season for ridding your life of clutter. Just as the trees let go of their leaves at this time of year, consider decluttering both your physical and mental space.
Release the things you no longer need / want / value / have time for, and you’ll create room for new possibilities.
4. Create a Cosy Sanctuary
Once you’ve got rid of all that clutter, transform your home into a haven of comfort. Make it the place you’re desperate to escape to after a long day.
Do all the cliched things: light scented candles, arrange fluffy blankets, and sip on hot cocoa as you unwind with a good book or your favourite autumn playlist. It might sound trite but you won’t regret it.
5. Have a Go at Mindful Eating
Engage all your senses as you’re both cooking and eating it all. Savour the seasonal aromas and tastes of each dish, and enjoy the warmth of freshly cooked food on a chilly day.
6. Try Forest Bathing
Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, is a Japanese practice of immersing oneself in nature. It sounds simple, but once you know there’s an actual word for it, it feels more intentional. Time to take a mindful stroll through the woods, paying close attention to the sights, sounds, and scents of the forest. Let the serenity of all that nature soothe your soul.
7. Practice Yoga and Meditation
Engage in gentle yoga or meditation practices to centre yourself during this season of change. Both of these activities can help you become more attuned to your body and mind, fostering a sense of inner peace.
If you don’t know where to start, try a local class, or find some tutorials online to give you some pointers.
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8. Enjoy Some Seasonal Crafts
Engage in a few creative projects that celebrate autumn, such as making wreaths, painting pumpkins, or crafting nature-inspired decor.
The act of creation can be deeply therapeutic – although if you’re not naturally crafty it can also be deeply overwhelming. If that sounds like you, try a kit which comes with the items and instructions you need – to make the experience relaxing instead of frustrating.
9. Connect with Loved Ones
Autumn is a time of gathering. As the evenings darken and we head indoors, share cosy times with family and friends, whether through dinners, bonfires, or storytelling. These connections can nourish your soul.
10. Have a Digital Detox
Consider a brief digital detox to unplug from the constant stream of information and notifications. Spend a day or weekend without screens, allowing yourself to fully experience the present moment. Have a rough plan for things to do so that you don’t get bored, but don’t make it too rigid and be prepared to go with the flow. And if you end up doing nothing then do NOT feel guilty: enjoy it!
11. Make Some Future Plans
Mindfulness should teach us to reflect on the past and savour the present, but you can also use this time to set intentions for the future. What do you hope to do in the seasons to come? Create a vision for the months / year ahead. This could be for work, travel, relationships, hobbies, or anything else you like.
12. Give Back
As part of practising gratitude, try going one step further and engaging in acts of kindness and service. Volunteer for a local charity or donate to a cause you’re passionate about. Helping others can be fulfilling, and it also makes you reflect on the positives in your own life.
Autumn encourages us to embrace the changing tides of life with grace and gratitude. By incorporating these mindful practices into your daily routine, you can immerse yourself in the beauty of the season and work on your well-being.
So, as the leaves fall and the world transforms, let this autumn be a time of reflection, renewal, and self-care.
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