Or if I really want to annoy my Husband I tell him....its Fall Y'all. So he gets annoyed for two reasons, one is the Americanism of the statement (and my appalling accent ) but more seriously, he mourns for the height of summer when he can be outside from dawn to dusk. He is not alone, as many people in the UK suffer from 'Autumnal blues' as the nights draw in and the weather becomes more noticeably chilly. Lack of sunlight as we plunge deeper into the season can trigger seasonal affective disorder (SAD) leaving you feeling jaded, tired and in some cases depressed.
Personally I have always loved late Summer and early Autumn. The russet, gold and red leaves crunching underfoot,
resurrecting my slow cooker for stews and root vegetable casseroles, back to school and routines..its all good.
With that in mind, I have complied a few tips which may ease you into the Autumn a little more gently...
1) Get outside. I know, I always say it but its true. Nature quietens your mind, its a great form of physical activity, low risk and inexpensive plus it can be done with the entire family. The later being particularly important if screen time seems to dominate weekends. Get them out the house, picking blackberries, conkers and colourful leaves with the promise of a hot chocolate at the end of it perhaps? Works for my girls!
2) Dust off the slow cooker and look up some new recipes. Perhaps you love to do it 'old school' and flick through proper cookbooks, I'm a big fan of that alongside my ever expanding collection of recipes on pinterest.
This Autumn I'm planning on nailing pulled pork and cider infused beef stew. Perhaps I'll sneak in a few sweet recipes such as sweet apple cobbler, caramel peanut butter hot fudge cake or sticky caramel pumpkin cake (sadly I'm gluten free so adapting them may be catastrophic) I confess to having a culinary crush on Nigella. Is it just me or does anyone else feel jealous of her kitchen and larder stocked with fabulous spices and condiments? I love the way she raids the fridge at night. We have that in common although I never pull off doing it quite as glamorously!
P.s. Don't slow cook quorn..its disappointingly sloppy.
3) Take up a new hobby. Something about the start of term makes me want to try new things... Learning anything new is good for your brain, why wait until the New Year? Try one that's preferably not work related , is relaxing and has longevity. Start bullet journalling, join a book club, evening classes or join a choir and benefit from the release of endorphins and oxytocin. Alternatively it could be something as simple as trying meditation or listening to relaxing audios. Carving out regular 'quiet time' as the nights draw in is a good investment of time.
4) Connecting with friends. Recently a family friend commented that back to school and the approach of Autumn welcomes in a new social calendar, on reflection that's true in our family.. Our friend's 'scatter' during the summer eg. they are on holiday, spending time with their own family so apart from the occasional BBQ, our paths may not cross. Autumn for me is about lazy brunches with friends, walks in the countryside perhaps but with an emphasis on all the kids being involved. Making time to nourish friendships is important for our health, happiness and overall life balance. Try extending an invite to friends for an informal gathering . Our favourite slot is Sunday around 11 ish. Enough time to lie in (the kids are older now) or get up in a more leisurely fashion then throw together some 'sociable' food. Don't ever make it hard work though..the trick is to go for an assembly job and display your offerings on pretty plates! Make sure the smell of coffee and hot croissants fills the house as guests arrive !
Interestingly, research done by Professor Robin Dunbar (2017) from the University of Oxford, revealed that the more often people eat with others the more likely they are to feel happy, sociable and satisfied with their lives.
5) Tweak the nest... As we start to spend more time indoors we look inwards at our environment. Perhaps changing textures in the living room or bedrooms, nothing too extravagant, hanging up a string of fairy lights, a tactile throw or chunky knit here and there, swap cushion covers ( quick fix, minimum cost) to more Autumnal hues . Change your bedding, unpack the quilts and take a good look at de-cluttering your bedroom. Make sure it is your sanctuary of calm for the start of semi hibernation season! Display seasonal flowers, there's plenty of Autumn foliage out there. My favourites are hydrangeas just as they change colour beautifully in early to mid September and are perfect to pluck and display in a vase . I often cheat a little by buying good quality fake flowers and foliage to add depth. The secret is to always ensure they look seasonal and are blended in with real ones.
I love a good candle. I really do. Sadly, in the summery months, I tend to burn the citronella ones since I get devoured by midges. So, the turn of season is my cue to bulk buy some really pretty and subtle scented ones. As I type I'm enjoying one with the scent of beech and apple! Another cheap and non chemically way to make the house smell good is boiling a pan of water and adding fresh ginger, a good quality glug of vanilla esscence and grated lemon or orange. Instant olfactory gratification. As an (ex) aromatherapist I still have a soft spot for essential oils. These change as the season does but my all time favourites are the more citrus notes. Lemon, mandarin, grapefruit. A little trick I use is to sprinkle some on cotton wool and tuck behind radiators. Change them regularly as they do fade but you benefit from an instant waft of freshness. Don't underestimate the power of scent by the way, it has the power to lift a mood or kill it. (I'm thinking of our shoe cupboard next to the front door!) If you are going to be spending more time indoors, make it smell cosy and inviting.