If you follow my work, you’ll know that I’m a big believer in living in accordance with nature and the seasons. Eastern medicine has been advising this for thousands of years, and, more and more, Western science is beginning to validate these ideas. Although our modern lives are very far removed from the way our ancestors lived thousands of years ago, our bodies haven’t yet caught up, and aren't very well adapted to our modern, Western way of living.
One way of trying to live more in accordance with nature is to honour the Seasons. We do this by acknowledging that there’s a time for everything, that we are changing beings with different needs throughout the year, and adapting our lives according to the season.
Autumn (or Fall for our US friends) is a time of harvesting, of getting things in order before Winter (when traditionally much of life would shut down). It’s a time for beginning to slow down, to wind down projects or work, and to bring tasks to completion.
Although we tend to associate detoxing or clearing things out with Spring, Autumn is actually also a wonderful time to consider a detox – whether that’s a mental detox (letting go of negative thoughts, doing the inner work, etc.) or a physical detox (either of your body or maybe a clearing out of your home or office space).
Just as the trees start to let go of their leaves in Autumn, we can think of this season as one of letting go of things that no longer serve us; be that belongings, thoughts, spending too much time on social media, and so on.
Symbolically we are decluttering our lives so that, when Winter comes, we can truly rest, and we’re also making space for new things to come into our lives in the New Year.
With that in mind, here are 5 ways you could ‘detox’ this Autumn:
#1 Do a declutter of your home
Autumn is a great opportunity to do a last clearing out of your home before Winter. The reason for doing this is not only because a cluttered environment can be a cause of stress for many people (without even realising it sometimes) so it helps to destress, but also because the fewer things we have the more likely we are to really value and appreciate them. Our chronic consumption of things is also having a huge impact on the environment so being more mindful with our possessions and in our purchases is a way of living more gently on the planet.
I highly recommend checking out the Marie Kondo method (she has a Netflix documentary as well as a book), where you take out everything you own (and put it all in one space) to truly see how much stuff you’ve got, and then you only keep things which are essential or that bring you joy. You could start with one room of the house at the weekend, and try to tackle a new room each week before winter. I recently went through my wardrobe and sold almost half of it – it felt so good to start afresh and get clear on my style and what things I really love. Try to recycle, sell, or give to charity as much as possible, and only throw things in the rubbish bin if there’s no way to recycle or donate them.
#2 Clean out your fridge/pantry
If you’re looking to overhaul your health, or get back on track with healthy habits, then a great place to start is cleaning out your fridge and pantry of any unhealthy items (processed food, things with added sugar, etc.), as well as those half-eaten jars that have lived there for several years (I’m guilty of that!). Unopened items could be donated to a food bank or given to friends/neighbours, and opened items could be added to the food waste/compost. This way you can see what you have in terms of pantry staples (spices, dried herbs, nut butters, etc.) and what you still need to buy, and, psychologically, it’s also indicating to yourself that you’re ready to make a change, ready for a fresh start. Plus, you might notice how much food you waste or buy unnecessarily. If so, check out my other article on how to reduce food waste at home!
#3 Sort through your email list/following list/Facebook friends
If you feel overwhelmed and stressed out by the number of ‘pings’ and notifications you get each day from each of the various social media apps and email on your phone, then you might want to think about going through your ‘following’ list, email subscriptions, or Facebook friends, and getting rid of the ones that aren’t bringing you value in your life, that aren’t a priority, or that don’t lift you up. This is especially true if you find that, after a period of scrolling Facebook or Instagram, you feel worse about yourself than when you started – either because of comparing yourself to others, or because the content is negative or overstimulating. I would recommend being very selective about who you follow, and only following people who inspire you, educate you, or make you feel generally better about yourself.
Another option is to take these apps (email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) off your phone, so that you don’t get constant notifications. This way, if you want to engage with them, you have to make more of an effort by going on your computer, which in itself may reduce the amount of time you spend on these apps.
#4 Have a whole day without devices
Whilst the Internet and boom in technology over the last few decades have definitely brought with them certain advantages, there is also no doubt that the overuse of technology and devices is having a detrimental impact on our mental and physical health. From the stress of receiving constant notifications of emails and alerts, to postural issues due to spending all our time crouched over a phone or laptop, most of us could definitely do with spending less time on our devices and more time being present, either in nature, with friends and family, or with ourselves.
One idea is to take the ‘Sabbath’ or a whole 24 hours, from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday, where you don’t use/look at any devices during that time (unless necessary for safety reasons). Instead, you would use this time to rest, cook nourishing food, spend time with your family or by yourself, read, be in nature, etc. It may be quite confronting the first time you try it, and you may have to enforce strict boundaries like putting your phone away in a drawer, but it may also make you more aware of just how much time you are spending on your devices, and how it feels without them.
#5 Go to the sauna
For a more physical way of detoxing the body this Autumn, you could start going regularly to the sauna. Autumn is a particularly suitable time for this as it starts to get colder out, so anything that feels cozy and warming will be extra nourishing! Saunas (and sweating in general) are a great way to help the body get rid of toxins, and can also help with muscle recovery, relaxation, skin health, and more. Infrared saunas are the ‘gold standard’, but any kind of sauna you have access to will be beneficial. Remember not to overdo it, especially if you’re not used to saunas. Build your tolerance up gradually and drink even more water than you normally would (or should!) throughout the day, since you’ll be losing fluids through sweating.
So there you have it - 5 ways to 'detox' this Autumn. Given Autumn's association with letting go, and making our homes nice and comfy and decluttered in preparation for winter, now is the perfect time to engage in these kinds of activities.
What does Autumn invoke for you? How do you feel about decluttering (your mind and life)? Let me know in the comments below!