Ah. I am so excited about this month! Pretty much because the one that follows it is my favorite one of the year—October. Although I've got some personal reason for why I like it so much (two of my favorite men, who are no longer with me, their birthdays are in October; my dad and my late fiancé), I think that it is the quintessential representation of fall—and the fall season is all kinds of dope. The weather is cooler. The leaves are changing into pretty and vibrant colors. I get to do more layering of my clothes. Yeah, there's not one single issue I have with fall. Not one.
Well, maybe just one. I'm not sure where y'all live, but I live in Nashville and it's the home of totally unpredictable weather; especially when spring and autumn roll around. Back when I wasn't as proactive about caring for my health as I should've been, if I caught a cold or my hair or lips got extra dry, I'd figure out what to do after the fact. These days, I'm a little more on top of things. These days, before the fall season officially hits, I know just what I need to do to get my health "fall ready". Here is what you can do to prepare beforehand as well.
1. Stop by Your Local Farmers Market
Broccoli. Cabbage. Carrots. Pears. Grapes. Eggplant. Kale. Zucchini. Pumpkin. Pomegranates. These are just some of the foods that are at their peak of freshness during the fall season. Since they're all really good for you, why not support your immune system, along with your community, by picking them up at your local farmers market? Also, since herbs like rosemary and thyme are also in season during autumn, there's no time like the present to amp up your vegan cooking skills too.
2. Up Your Vitamin D Intake
The sun does shine in colder temperatures, but between all of the rain and daylight savings time, you might not get as much as you're used to; this means that you might not get as much Vitamin D as you need either. That's why it's a good idea to be intentional about getting more Vitamin D into your system. You can take a D supplement, if you'd like. Or, if you'd prefer to eat more foods that are high in Vitamin D, some of those include eggs, salmon, mushrooms, orange juice and cheese.
3. Apply Some Frankincense and Myrrh to Your Skin
The fall season is weird in the sense that more inclement weather might result in more moisture in the air. But, at the same time, harsh and cold winds can dry your skin totally out. That's why another thing that I recommend is creating a blend of frankincense and myrrh oil.
Frankincense is an earthy-smelling essential oil that contains properties that not only fight acne but can prevent fine lines and wrinkles (skin-wise, a good read is Zoe Report's "Frankincense Oil Is Like 'Liquid Gold' For Your Face"). As a bonus, frankincense is able to relieve anxiety, reduce PMS symptoms, balance hormones, reduce stress and, if you're trying to make a baby this autumn, increase fertility too. Myrrh is a warm and spicy smelling oil that contains astringent properties that are great for treating eczema and itchy skin. It's perfect for fall because Myrrh is also able to moisturize your skin, relieve any cracking and fade blemishes too. Other benefits of myrrh oil is it boosts brain power, and it reduces bodily inflammation and cold-related symptoms like coughing and phlegm.
Because both oils are pretty potent, it's a good idea to mix them with a carrier oil before applying. Almond, grapeseed and jojoba are really great options.
4. Eat Healthy Comfort Foods
I always enjoy comfort foods, but I think fall may be the time when I crave them most. One article says that the reason why so many of us dig them is because they take us back to certain foods that we enjoyed as children and/or they're dishes that were made by someone we truly love(d).
If you've been trying to talk yourself out of having them this year because they aren't exactly the healthiest foods on the planet, there's some good news. Enjoying comfort food, guilt-free, is mostly about preparation more than anything else. "31 Healthy Comfort Foods for People Who Love to Eat" offers up some pretty healthy recipes. Or, if you're looking for some Black vegan inspiration, check out "15 Vegan Soul Food Dishes That'll Make You Rethink Meat".
5. Cook with “Warming” Spices
Speaking of eating, did you know that there are spices that can actually warm your body up? Once you start noticing frost on your car windows, that's a sign that there's more of a "bite" in the air. Something that can keep you from freezing is cooking meals with spices and herbs like black pepper (contains antioxidants and increases nutrient absorption); cinnamon (lowers blood sugar and has powerful medicinal properties); cayenne pepper (reduces blood pressure and improves psoriasis); ginger (boosts immunity and contains anti-inflammatory properties); and garlic (improves cholesterol levels and fights the common cold).
6. Drink Chamomile or Dandelion Tea
If sweet iced tea tends to be your summer drink jam, slightly switch things up by making your tea warm and going with an herbal kind like chamomile or dandelion. Chamomile is great because it reduces stress, lowers blood sugar, relieves cold symptoms, treats eczema and even soothes menstrual discomfort. Dandelion's a winner because it detoxes the liver, reduces bloating, helps to prevent urinary tract infections, fights inflammation and is loaded with antioxidants to boost your immune system.
Oh, and if you're wondering if it matters whether you go the loose leaf or traditional tea bag route, I recently read an article that's gonna have me taking the loose leaf route more often from here on out. If for no other reason than all of the dust that collects on the bags alone (yuck!).
7. Exercise Outdoors
The fresh air. The beautiful scenery. The wind resistance (because that can help you to burn more calories). Its ability to increase your mental health and boost your self-esteem. These are just some of the reasons why it's a good idea to exercise outdoors. Being that the fall season brings forth milder temperatures, you don't have to worry about burning up (summer) or freezing to death (winter).
So, why not use the fall season to take a hike, go canoeing or do something totally fall theme-related like playing in the leaves with your kids, walking through a fall harvest maze or going apple picking with some friends? Fall can be a fun time to do all sorts of things that will keep your body in shape.
8. Deep Condition and Oil Your Hair’s Ends
When it's cold outside, that can do a real number on your hair. Whether you decide to wear it out, put it up in a protective style, wrap it up in a scarf or put on a hat, make sure your hair is well-moisturized by deep conditioning your tresses no less than twice a month (something that I have become a huge fan of is chebe powder).
Speaking of hair care, something else that you should do (especially if you're gonna be rocking wool hats 'n such) is to oil your ends. Sweet almond oil seals and protects, lavender oil thickens and (extra virgin) olive oil provides shine and sheen while protecting your ends from heat damage in the process.
9. DIY a Lip Scrub
If your lips are always chapped during cooler weather and you've always wondered why, it's basically due to two things. First, you're probably dehydrated, so drinking more water is the first way to remedy the issue. Second, since your lips don't have any oil glands in them, when there is harsh weather (heat, wind, cold), that can cause them to dry out.
To get rid of the dead skin that may be on your lips, make your own lip scrub (you can get some easy recipes here). Then, after they are soft and smooth, protect them by applying some shea butter or making your own lip balm (you can learn how to do that here and here).
10. Get Some Flannel Bedding
Something that does kinda suck about the drop in temperature during the fall and winter is the rise in electric bills. Something that you can do to keep some extra money in your pocket is to put some flannel sheets on your bed. They're soft and cozy, they're able to keep your warm and they're also the kind of fabric that allows your skin to breathe. Since our skin is our largest organ, keeping it healthy is always a good thing.
Flannel sheets actually feel so good that it can be tempting to hit your snooze button five times and remain in bed. Yeah, try and avoid that, though. I recently read that sleeping 10 hours or longer can double your chance of having a heart attack. Geeze.
Oh, if you're wondering how the heck to care for flannel sheets, wash them in warm or cool water, then dry them like you would any other bedding. Just make sure to skip the whole fabric softener thing. For some reason, it makes the sheets stiff and can cause the material to "bead up" quicker. Happy (almost) fall, y'all!
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