Are you feeling a bit thrown off by the recent time change? You’re not alone. Many people I’ve talked with struggle at this time of year. I’m in Seattle this week, where there are currently fewer than 10 hours of daylight, with sunsets well before 5 p.m. I’m feeling the time shift especially profoundly up here in this northerly neck of the country.
Here are a few tips I rely on to navigate the autumn time shift gracefully and with ease:
- Establish a rhythm. Like anything in nature, our bodies operate according to rhythmic cycles. Work with the intelligence of your body (rather than against it) by going to bed and waking at roughly the same time each day. Try as much as possible to eat your meals at the same time each day. And most importantly, don’t be harsh towards yourself if you fall out of rhythm. Just do your best to get back on track.
- Ease into the day. This one is especially important if you’re not a morning person. Avoid the tendency to sleep in until the last possible moment, and then get up and go in a rushed manner. Make an effort to wake up a bit earlier than needed, and take time to go slowly. Perhaps do yoga or light stretching, meditate or drink tea mindfully. The morning is often a time when our creative inclinations are clearest, so this is also a wonderful time to write/journal or pursue other creative endeavors.
- Eat dinner before the sun sets. This is the one I struggle with the most, especially after the fall time change. Our digestive rhythms follow the patterns of the sun, and once it is dark, the body is ready to stop receiving new inputs, and process what has already been consumed. If you do need to eat a later dinner, stick to light meals. Soup is a particularly good choice. Drink decaffeinated tea – ideally with digestive herbs like ginger, fennel or mint – in the evening hours to keep your body warm and further stoke your digestive fire.
- Eat seasonal foods. The time shift is often accompanied by a sense of disorientation, and in the fall the vata (air) energies are strong, which can further fuel feelings of ungroundedness. Foods that are naturally available this time of year, like winter squashes, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables, help restore grounding and balance.
- Move your body. Exercise naturally causes the body to release increased serotonin, which helps elevate mood. Avoid the winter blues by staying active. Exercise should ideally be done in the morning or during the daylight hours. Exercising too late in the evening can be overly stimulating and interfere with healthy sleep patterns.
Be well, and be compassionate with yourself as you pass through this seasonal transition. If you have other tips to share, please offer them in the comments below!