Back in my university days, I felt myself burning out badly in the fall semester of my second year. Feeling that I was losing my mind, I went to the administration office to drop one of my courses, where I found out I shouldn’t have even been able to sign up for 6 full courses to begin with, aside from the 2 part-time jobs I was working. There are so many things that exemplify Vata in this anecdote, from my over-enthusiastic belief that I was superwoman, to the glitch that allowed me to override the system when I scheduled my courses, to the subsequent cutting of corners as I tried to do it all. Predictably, after a few weeks of crying spells, I adapted to a marginally more sensible solution and limped my way into Christmas break, probably with a nasty head cold. Sound familiar? If so, read on.
These suggestions are primarily Ayurveda-based, but I’ve made a few important modifications to accommodate harsh Canadian winter, where I live:
- Routine is Everything:
- Bedtime – Create a bedtime routine and go to bed at roughly the same time every night. Know that it will be easier to get into the routine than it will be to stick to it at this time of year. Be a bit strict with yourself about this!
- Meals – As much as possible, eat your meals at the same time every day.
- Exercise – Put it into your schedule and do what it takes to make to happen. Get a trainer or coach, sign up for a class, do it with a friend. Go easy on the cardio, because it increases Vata.
- Right exercise for the season and your type: Less cardio is appropriate at this time of year because we already have plenty of stimulation, and moving the breath is stimulating. Go for exercise that is strengthening and grounding. If you’ve got lots of Vata in your mix, you may not need loads of exercise, but you do need it daily. Pitta types need a medium amount, and Kapha types can take advantage of all the stimulation in the air and go for quite a bit, as long as they’ve warmed up properly. Don’t know your type? Find out here.
- Use Vata-balancing tastes in keeping with your type, in other words, we all probably need a little more of the Vata tastes, but how much more depends on how they sit with you. Increase Salty, Sour & Sweet (but not sugary) tastes if you have a significant amount of Vata in your constitutional profile. It will help almost everyone to include warming spices and increase healthy fats at this time of year, just do it according to your taste and how it makes you feel. There’s a reason why pumpkin spice lattes are popular in the fall, besides Thanksgiving! Avoid really hot spices, ok?
- Make Soup – especially during October & November. Bone broth is best in a cold climate. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, onion-based broth is very nourishing. Please don’t imagine that purchasing organic broth is the same as homemade. It just isn’t.
- Eat cooked foods. The digestive fire is slower during the fall and winter. Raw foods slow it down even more and can be cooling for the body. Cooked foods are easier to digest and are warming for the body. A little more meat might be in order, because it’s also warming, helps to build the body up and protect it from the cold. If you miss eating salad, have it at lunch when the digestive fire is highest.
- Do you like fermented foods, such as kombucha, sauerkraut and vinegar? If your digestion is variable, fall and winter are a good time to put these on the menu, because they stoke your appetite a bit and help you digest. If your appetite doesn’t need to be stoked, give these a miss.
- Hydrate by sipping on warm water throughout the day. Vata types can add a bit of lemon to it. Avoid caffeinated beverages unless you’re a Kapha type, as they dehydrate and will overdrive your whole system.
- Don’t over-book yourself! During the fall, we can tend to be enthusiastic but over-committed. We start with lots of energy, but fatigue quickly, as in my anecdote above.
- Remember that travelling, screen time, talking, rushing around and multi-tasking are inherently unbalancing. Our world demands that we do these activities some of the time, but there’s lots of time when it’s optional. Use your agency to be the master of your life by scheduling some calm time every day as well as non-screen time to rest and regroup each week. Watch for my 5-day Digital Detox, coming soon!
- Rest before you get sick. Remember, when we get out of balance, we crave things that make us more out of balance. You might not ‘feel like’ resting when you’re tired, but being your own parent means you’ll stay healthier during flu season.
Want to learn more about how to beat fatigue and maximize your energy? Join my list! I’ll be sharing more about the points above with my readers.