Whether from suddenly overcrowded schedules, the upcoming holidays, or even the change of daylight, many people say the fall months feel more stressful.
This stress is so widespread that health experts have even created a term for it. “Fear of autumn“Is defined as an increase in anxiety some people experience during the fall months.
Fear of autumn can have an impact on health
Corresponding Medline Plus, “Your body reacts to stress by releasing hormones. These hormones make your brain more alert, tense your muscles, and increase your heart rate. ”While these reactions help protect you in the short term, if they are present for a long time, they can be harmful to your health. Chronic stress can increase your risk of other health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and even heart disease.
Stress and increased levels of cortisol (a hormone released in response to stress) can also cause people to build up fat in the abdominal area, which is the most dangerous weight as it secretes hormones that damage organ function. A study, conducted by Yale, found that non-obese women who are “prone to the effects of stress” are more likely to have extra belly fat and increased cortisol levels.
Our own registered nutritionist Courtney McCormick spoke with US News & World Report about the dangerous link between your waistline and your health. She explains that visceral belly fat can be found deep in your stomach, around important organs like the heart and liver. “This type of fat is biologically active, which means it can disrupt the balance of several hormones and produce substances that cause inflammation and increased insulin resistance in the body, which can lead to diabetes,” explains McCormick.
Belly fat can damage your heart, cloud your memory, and increase your risk of diabetes, stroke, and premature death. Therefore, coping with stress can help you avoid serious illness.
If you’re feeling extra stress this season, you might be looking for ways to take care of yourself. Fall can be a really great time to partake in some special activities that help relax the body and mind. It’s easier to find a comfortable temperature, and the time of year is known for distinctive flavors and smells that can be grounding and warming while promoting mindfulness. Here are some fun fall self-care ideas to get you started.
1. Try out some fall work
Are you someone who likes to do handicrafts? Even if it’s not a regular hobby, it can be relaxing and enjoyable to get creative. A study out Drexel University found that art therapy – at any level – can lower cortisol levels. In other words, you don’t have to be good at crafting to see the benefits of this.
Fall is the perfect time to do handicrafts as there are so many cute and creative themes out there at the start of the holiday season. Grab a paintbrush and paint something, or stop by the local craft store and get some supplies to do a fall craft. For inspiration, hop on Pinterest or TikTok and search for “easy fall crafts”. You can find plenty of ideas to get you started.
Your autumn crafts don’t have to be expensive either! Head to your local dollar store to stock up on craft supplies and fall decorations that you can reuse and transform. Again, a quick online search for “Dollar Shop Fall DIYs” will provide tons of inspiration.
2. Spend time in the fall foliage
A lot of research over the years has highlighted the importance of spending time outdoors in order to reduce stress. Natural baths have been featured in the news and popular culture.
And when could you do that better than in the beautiful autumn months, when the autumn leaves are at their peak?
Many people find the red, orange, yellow and purple tones of nature to be peaceful and calming. Whether on a hike in the forest or a stroll through the park, seize the moment to enjoy the beauty of the trees around you. Take a deep breath of the cool, clear autumn air. Have fun walking around now that the sultry, hot summer days are over.
Sometimes we are just too busy to pause and appreciate how beautiful the natural habitats around us can be.
Top: Don’t forget to look for some fall leaves and pine cones to use in your crafts!
3. Make a fall-inspired drink
Nothing evokes the warm and cozy feelings of autumn like an autumn-inspired drink. While your local cafe or fall festival is likely to sell fall-inspired drinks like pumpkin latte, pumpkin cold brew, hot chocolate, or flavored cider, you can make healthier drinks at home. Homemade fall drinks still give you that fall feeling with no unnecessary fat or calories.
Nutrisystem’s official weight loss blog, The Leaf, is here to feed your fall cravings the healthy way! Our Recipe for Skinny Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew Tastes the same as a Starbucks drive-through, but has fewer calories. We also have one Recipe for Skinny Pumpkin Latte and a Recipe for warm mulled wine made from cran apple cider that both get rave reviews. And don’t forget our healthy ideas for hot drinks to warm up on a cool autumn day!
4. Read a book
While you might be thinking of read a good book in terms of entertainment only, did you know it is also effective for stress relief? In a study from the University of Sussex, researchers found that Reading can reduce stress by up to 68 percent.
Do a little self-care this fall and read! Grab a good book, a blanket, and maybe a healthy hot drink. Then make yourself comfortable on the couch and lose yourself in a favorite story.
5. Go to apple or pumpkin picking
Autumn is also the perfect time to visit a local farm and pick pumpkins or apples. Besides spending time outdoors, you burn a few calories too. Squatting to pick up a pumpkin and carry it around builds muscle. And if you wander around the patch, you’ll burn even more calories – and have fun doing it. Your pumpkin will definitely come in handy with autumn crafting, and you can even get a tasty snack with something homemade roasted pumpkin seeds. The same goes for picking apples. Grasping, stretching, twisting and plucking – it’s like a yoga sequence, but while you take in the whole autumn feeling. Then go home and do something healthy apple snacks to enjoy.
Look for something that you love
Hopefully these five self-care ideas got you started this fall. At the end of the day, however, self-care is all about YOU. Find the things that you love and that bring you joy.
The self-care activities that give you the most relief are the ones that you enjoy doing. Maybe it’s a warm bubble bath surrounded by your favorite scents, meditate, do yoga or just put on music and decompress. The most important thing about self care is finding something that works for you so that you can actually take the time to enjoy it.
If you don’t take the time to relieve stress on your busy fall schedule, it will catch up with you. Self-care means taking care of your body, mind, and spirit so that you can be the best – and healthiest – of yourself.