As the leaves start falling, and the berries ripen, the arrival of autumn reminds us to slow down, take in the beauty of the great outdoors, and conserve our energy for the months ahead. In Eastern Medicine, autumn marks a time to focus energy inwards, reflect on the year so far, and to let go of anything we’re holding on to that doesn’t make us feel good.
Rather than feeling regret at the loss of the warm summer days, there are plenty of things you can do to connect with nature and help local wildlife. Here’s our Honestly Good roundup:
It may be too chilly for picnics in the park, but why not embrace Autumn’s striking change of leaves and take part in the Japanese art of Forest bathing? Despite its name, it doesn’t involve submerging yourself in the nearest river. All you need to do is spend time in the wilderness and take a walk in your nearest forest or woodland area. Amazingly, scientists have discovered that plants and trees release a chemical called “phytoncide” that boosts that human immune system. This natural antidote is a great way to help ease depression, anxiety, and can even help you sleep better.
When the summer fruits and autumn berries run out, birds need fuel to help them stay warm and energised during the colder months. Give your feathered friends a hand by keeping bird feeders topped up with nuts and seed mixes, hang out high-fat bird treats like suet balls, and fill up a water bowl or bird bath. When there’s been a frost, check that the water hasn’t frozen, and keep it topped up and cleaned out regularly.
If you saw our previous post “16 Things You Can Do to Help Save Hedgehogs” , you’ll know that this is a prime time of year that hedgehogs need help to gain essential body weight before they enter hibernation. Your spikey garden friends will appreciate a bowl of water, some wet cat/dog food (or specialist hedgehog food if you wish), and some shelter.
Autumn is an incredible time to go foraging – especially for blackberries, apples, and elderberries. Always go foraging safely and be sure to clearly identify what you’re picking. For some foraging inspiration, we love the book “Food For Free” by Richard Mabey.
As we slow down to prepare for the colder months, why not use this time of year to expand your skills, and take up a new hobby to help you connect to nature? This could be wood carving, weaving, knitting, flower/leaf pressing, or even watercolour painting. Our friends at Obby have lots of activities to choose from including woodcut printing, and terrarium making.
Autumn is a great time to preserve the summer’s bountiful crop. Whether you ‘grow your own’, forage, or simply have lots of leftovers, take the time to batch cook and preserve some of nature’s wonders. We love this delicious courgette chutney recipe.
It’s great to keep an eye on what’s seasonal throughout the year, but we particularly love autumn for all the delicious hearty stews, soups, and nourishing root vegetables dishes you can make. Beets, butternut squash, carrots, onion, potatoes, pumpkins, pears, and cauliflower are some of our favourite seasonal goodies to look out for.
A lot of people see ivy as an out-of-control garden obstacle, but did you know it’s incredibly important for bees and other pollinators? Unlike a lot of other plants, ivy flowers in the autumn, so becomes a valuable source of nectar for bees and butterflies before they go into hibernation.
Bees, hedgehogs, toads, and lots of our insect friends are all looking for dry, sheltered homes during the colder months, so give them a hand by creating “wildlife homes”. Leave logs and twigs piled up, stack up plant pots, and keep a mountain of leaves in the corner of your garden.
If you find a butterfly in your home during the autumn months, it may be confused at the warm temperature and expend a lot of energy flying around when it should be hibernating. Instead of releasing your butterfly outside where there is little nectar and conditions are hostile, carefully place it in a shed or garage where the temperature will stay consistent. Be sure to let it exit during spring.
If you’re lucky enough to have a pond, make sure you look after your pond life by stopping a ‘big freeze’. All you need to do is float a couple of balls in the water. They will move with the wind, and help stop the water from freezing.
It can be easy to get into “hibernation mode” as the weather gets colder, but your body needs to stay active, and it’ll be grateful for every dose of vitamin D that the sun gives at this time of year. Whether it’s running in the park, gardening, raking fallen leaves, or going on a hike, see it as a challenge to exercise during the colder months.
We hope some of our tips have inspired you to embrace autumn. This is a wonderful time of year for self-care, as well as looking after the natural world around us. So as you layer up, take the time to slow down, connect with the outdoors, and evaluate the things in life that truly serve you.
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