There’s so much beauty in autumn, I can’t help but feel an inkling of anticipation when the evenings start to close in, but not everyone feels the same way. Levels of depression have been known to increase in autumn and winter because of the late sunrise and early sunset. Many physical ailments can be exacerbated in the cold – and although visually beautiful – the turning of our surroundings can be a reminder of things coming to an end. Nonetheless, with every ending is a brand new beginning.

As humans, we are inextricably linked with nature’s transitory cycles. We have our own times of light and sunshine, darkness and cold. Being aware, conscious and accepting of these external changes, can mean an acceptance and contentment within ourselves. Here are a few simple, unpretentious and beautifully effective ways of becoming mindful, peaceful and joyful in this colder season.

Go barefoot – It may be cold and dewy, or even frosty, but taking a wander on grass or soil barefoot can have a huge positive impact on our bodies, minds and emotions. It improves balance and overall foot health, it relieves stress and hypertension and can improve PMS, sleep and the immune system. ‘Earthing’ has gone from a counter-culture trend to a scientifically researched practice. So pick a nice morning and whip your slippers off. Experience the cold and be aware of how it feels.

Forest walks – If you’re lucky enough to live in the countryside, then you won’t have to travel far to find a forest or wooded area. Being in this environment is not only enjoyable, it can improve overall wellbeing. Forest bathing is the practice of absorbing the sights, sounds and smells of your surroundings. Take a walk and notice all you can. Your mind may drift back to the office, but persevere. See the landscape, the colour and texture. Hear the rustle of leaves underfoot, smell the pine and the soil. Feel the cold and the comfort of a soft scarf. Stop a minute and just be there.

Be by water – Beaches aren’t just for summer time. I’m not suggesting you go for a swim, but a brisk walk along a bay in winter is a great way of blasting out those mental cobwebs. If you can’t get to a beach, then find a river, or stream – any moving body of water will do. In Ayurvedic medicine, the element of water is crucial in balancing the body and creating physical harmony, and rivers have long been seen as sacred, being associated with rebirth and spiritual cleansing. The average human body is up to 75% water, so it’s unsurprising that there’s a natural draw to and affiliation with it.

Watch your breath – By simply stopping, sitting and watching your breath on a daily basis, a huge transformation can take place. Find a quiet spot, inside or outside, and sit in a comfortable upright posture on a chair with uncrossed legs. Place your hands loosely on your lap, with palms facing upwards. Close your eyes and inhale deeply. As you exhale, shift your attention to this exhalation. With the next breath try and extend it a little, gradually making each inhalation and exhalation deeper. Keep your focus on the breath and try this for five minutes. If you feel like sitting for longer then do so. When you open your eyes, slowly, pay close attention to any change in sensation or emotion.

Be thankful – Work loads, family pressures and money difficulties can often seem over whelming. By taking a moment to stop and be thankful, a real sense of perspective can be gained. Where are you reading this? Are you safe and comfortable? Do you have food in your body? If you can truly and fully appreciate your situation, the feeling of wintery negativity can be lifted in an instant. When you wake up in the morning, try thinking of five things you have to be thankful for, and take a moment to stop and ponder.

By trying just one of these on a regular basis, you have the ability to create a profound and meaningful change in your outlook, your relationships with others, and your experience of life.

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