I love writing about the different seasons because without a doubt we are impacted by them changing and the message each season seems to bring. Before I jump in to answer your question, I just want to acknowledge that it is really normal to feel overwhelmed by changes in the season and the message that each season brings. Even people without an eating disorder can feel the effects of seasonal changes. Because they are each different, each season can make us feel different physically and emotionally. Be kind to yourself in your overwhelm and try to take a moment to breathe so you can remind yourself that you don’t have be anywhere other than where you are right now.
My favorite season of the year by far is Fall. I find the cooler and shorter days not only comforting but they also seem to give me greater permission to slow down and take care of myself after the busy rush of summer. I think this is one of the greatest things about living in a place where there are seasons – each season brings its own gift and focus. Fall for me has always felt like a transition time. For many years, it was the time when I went back to school and I don’t think I have ever lost the feeling of September feeling like the start of the year.
Now that we have jumped into Fall, I think it is important to look at how it may be a time of transition for you as well, and the transitions that I want you to prepare yourself for, along with spending time reflecting on the transitions you want for yourself.
Fall is a warming season. It is a time where we pull out our scarves and boots, and hot drinks can feel like a necessity all day long instead of just in the morning. Along with warmer clothing, it is also a season where our bodies will naturally crave warming foods. This is normal and incredibly healthy. Our bodies ask for more soups and stews and foods with warming spices like cinnamon; crisp fruits and veggies get replaced with roasted veggies and oatmeal can feel more comforting than a smoothie first thing in the morning. For some this may be easy, but I also know for many people struggling with an eating disorder, it can be difficult to listen to what your body is asking for and feel like it is safe to respond to its requests. It is healthy and important to try to tap into our bodies needs for these types of foods. Just like we wouldn’t deny ourselves a cozy sweater when we are cold, we don’t want to deny what it is asking for nutritionally as well.
Along with our body’s needs changing around food and warmth, I think Fall is also a time when our heart’s needs change as well. Summer is often a season of do-ing and busyness. Most people slide into fall feeling disconnected from their self-care and in need for a reset. As the days become shorter and the weather becomes cooler, I think it gives us an opportunity to reconnect with the forms of self-care that are focused on slowing down and being present. It is a time when sitting with a cup of tea feels restorative instead of out of place with the world around you, and a time when taking a bath while reading a book leaves you feeling warm and relaxed instead of hot and uncomfortable. Whatever your preferred types of self-care, pay attention to the ones that feel soothing for you right now and find a way to make them more of a priority. As the rain sets in and weeknight get-togethers at the beach are more of a distant memory, use your time to nourish yourself as a whole person and to remind yourself that you matter.
Autumn gives us an opportunity to transition into a different focus. I think there is no better time than now to make that focus recovery centered in whatever way that means for you. Maybe it is learning to lean into your self-care practice with more intention, or allowing your body to rest when it is asking for it. Perhaps it is creating the space for your body to turn to more warming foods to go alongside your favorite cozy sweaters. Whatever it might be for you, give yourself the space to honor the transition that this season brings and to welcome its gifts with open arms.