It is in Autumn + Winter when all things return inward for rest so that they may return again, full of life come Spring. It is this time when the plants draw their energy beneath the Earth’s surface, deep into their roots to gather nourishment, laying dormant until the time is right once more to burst forth in an exhuberant expression of new life. So too, we humans must take this time to become quiet within ourselves, to rest, to hibernate, and to go underground in whatever ways our life allows. For some this may mean a long Winter, shrouded in snow, spent in a rhythm of chopping wood, stirring soups, and reading by the woodstove, for others it may look more like donning a favorite sweater, going to bed an hour earlier, and greeting the day with a cup of warm tea. Whatever quieting and slowing your world allows for, make space for it wholeheartedly.
The body is a wise and gentle teacher for those willing to listen to its soft urgings.
By simply receiving and honoring the messages your body shares with you—moment to moment—you will gain more insight into caring for yourself well than you could even from reading every book ever written on natural health. Staying well and maintaining inner vitality through the Winter months requires a development of this inner-listening. These internal directives may at first be be hard to discern, but with continued patience and gentle curiosity will soon become crystal clear. The body’s teachings are ususally quite simple—when you are tired, rest; when you are cold, warm yourself; when you are hungry, eat something that nourishes both the body and soul; when the world overwhelms, seek solitude and cultivate stillness.
Nature offers us seasons and cycles to live by—the day and the night, the waxing and waning of the Moon, the timeless rhythm of the Seasons. As Summer fades into golden memory, so too do its days of endless activity and wild growth. Autumn invites you, like the plants to tend to your roots so that you may send up strong + vibrant shoots come Spring, and sweet fruit in late Summer. It is this time when the ground is most receptive for laying the foundation within yourself for that which you will cultivate in the coming turn of the wheel of the year. When one falls into in cadence with the real time of the Earth, an unparalleled sense of well-being follows effortlessly.
The suggestions below may seem like common sense. They are. In a world where many seek outside themselves for comfort—in an herb, a pill, a cleanse—it is ironically and delightfully the basics which are often left unattended and which when treated as foundational bring balance with little external measure.
Dress for the weather. Allowing the body to become chilled through is one of the quickest ways to weaken the body’s defenses and invite illness. When planning your winter wardrobe, take care to ensure that your lower back—where the kidneys and adrenals reside—is always well insulated from the elements. Cover the back of your neck and your ears similarly. These vulnerable areas of the body should be treated as the most precious when it comes to venturing into the cold.
Drink warming and building infusions + decoctions on a regular basis. Focus on roots, barks, seeds, and mushrooms such as ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, licorice, astragalus, dong quai, codonopsis, reishi, rosehip, or chaga.
For a delicious and ultra-luxe self care ritual, gently warm your favorite oil in a double boiler before massaging it onto your body. Consider judiciously adding a few drops of juniper, palo santo, or pinon essential oil for their blood-moving and warming effects.
Take a hot water bottle to bed with you. Alternately—snuggle.
Rest Deeply + Often
In the darker half of the year—from the Autumn Equinox to the Winter Solstice—make a point to turn off or at least dim computer screens and smart phones earlier in the day.Keep artificial lights after dark to a minimum, preferring candlelight or an early bedtime. Allow yourself a mid-day cat nap, nestled in your favorite blanket and bedfellow. When you can, steal away for a half hour with your journal or the book, half finished, that you’ve been meaning to get to.
This is not the time of year to push yourself. Consider doing less.
When planning your day or your week, rather than racking your brain for one more thing you can squeeze in or add to the list, ask yourself what is non-essential and can be met graciously at a later date.
Nourish The Body
Build your meals around rich + warming foods that your body can’t help but give a resounding yes to. Consider making a large batch of homemade Mole, Herbal Bone Broth, Oven-Roasted Roots, or a pot of your favorite soup. If you haven’t done so already—make friends with a crock pot. Eat a hot breakfast high in protein. This alone will bring you so much more energy and focus than skimping on what truly is the most important meal of the day.
Prioritize movement. A brisk walk in the crisp Autumn air does wonders for the flow of blood and lymph through the body. Take time to stretch indulgently upon waking.
For times when you begin to feel ragged and run-down, you become truly ill, don’t hesitate to treat yourself to whatever offers the greatest sustenance + comfort. The Spiral Path Herbal Honey makes a sure-fire ally for moments of depletion + sickness. Taken at the first sign of illness, this potent blend of immune-nourishing herbs helps to ward off colds + flus. If already in the midst of illness, it will help to lessen discomfort and duration of symptoms. Combine with ample rest, sufficient vitamin D intake, and most of all–compassion for yourself and your process. Just as a caterpillar must immerse itself in a world of darkness before emerging a radiant butterfly, so too, we as humans emerge from sickness with greater vitality and resilience than ever before.
Tend To Your Inner World
Most importantly, Winter is a time for reflection. Now is the time for integrating the lessons which shaped your world in the warmer months and making careful plans for the path you wish to continue on with this newfound understanding.
As often as you are able, take to your nest and allow yourself time for uninterrupted silence. In a world so filled with sound, often all it takes to draw one deeply inward is a time and place free of distractions.
Spend as much time as possible in Nature. Wake with the Sun to hike your favorite trail. Spend a day or hour off, wandering aimless in wild place you’ve never been.
Take baths. Lots of baths—every which way. Add salts, crystals, flower essences, whole herbs. Just take baths. Promise?
Last but not least—claim ample time to allow your mind to wander freely, for it is in these moments of non-doing that we find true pleasure, creativity, and renewal.