Health & Wellbeing

Your Ultimate Guide to Seasonal Living

Guide to Seasonal Living

What does seasonal living really mean? Is it important? How can you achieve seasonal living?

In today’s fast paced world while we’re constantly connected with the latest technology, we are feeling more and more disconnected from nature and ourselves. Our stress and anxiety levels are on the rise. And, we can’t seem to break this cycle, no matter what we do. Now imagine having time to relax, being able to connect with your loved ones, creating simple and seasonal meals, and feeling in tune with the nature around you and well as inside you. A simple way to get this balance back is by letting the nature guide us through seasonal living.

What does Seasonal Living mean ?

Seasonal living simply means tuning into the natural ebb and flow of our own true needs and our natural environment  — something we could all do with a bit more of in today’s fast-paced world and life stresses. Human bodies naturally keep track of seasons just like circadian rhythms of the day. It is called circannual rhythms. This includes seasonal impact to our hormones, sleep, mood, weight, metabolism and other systems.

Living in harmony with the rhythms of nature is the key to staying healthy and balanced. By syncing our bodies and minds with the seasonal and circadian clocks we can sleep better, think with clarity, improve our digestion, feel energetic and find mental calm. In fact, this is how our ancestors lived before the modern way of living and working became a norm. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence that our bodies, emotions and cognition are impacted by both our circadian and circannual (seasonal) rythms. Yet, we suppress the importance of seasonal living in the way we live today.

My Journey to Seasonal Living

Not long ago, I left my job as an executive in an advertising agency. For many years, I had been working very long hours and weekend. This was starting to take its toll and my body, mind and life felt out of balance. Stress and anxiety was starting to creep in and I knew that this lifestyle was not sustainable for me. Since I left late last year, one of the first things I focused on (after lots of sleep), was getting myself in sync with the seasons.

Since I was working in an office all day long, I did not know when the sun was out or when it was raining. And, now that I’ve been a free woman for the last few months, I’ve re-discovered the joy and importance of seasonal living. Just like when I was little and growing up before life got overtaken by devices and today’s stresses.

In fact, seasonal living is deeply embedded in many ancient traditions like Ayurveda. Ayurveda is an ancient health care tradition originating from the Indian subcontinent that has been practiced for at least 5,000 years. The word comes from the Sanskrit terms ayur (life) and veda (knowledge).

I tend to think that living in alignment with the cycles of seasons and days is one of the deepest innate needs we have as human beings. It is also tied very closely to the concept of slow and intentional living.

If you are new to seasonal living, keep it light and fun. There are no rules, only guidelines. Seasonal living is an elegant system that you can apply to your everyday life, no what what your needs are. It teaches us to tune into ourselves and our needs. After all, everyone is different and we’re all influenced by our own environment. In the end, only we can truly know ourselves best.

Here are my key starting points for seasonal living and specific steps I took in each of this area:

1. Setting Intention for Each Season

Seasonal living is pretty simple. Mother nature is there to guide us and luckily by now, we know exactly what to expect. However, modern day lifestyle and technology can actually disconnect us from nature. So, it’s important to set your intentions at the start of each season and how you’d like to experience it. Remember, that these keywords are there only to ground us in what’s important to us, and not meant to be prescriptive.

Steps I took to set my seasonal intentions:

  1. Pick a theme. My theme for this winter was ‘Connecting with how I want to truly live’. Remember to keep your theme simple and let go of perfection. The whole point is to enjoy life and slow down the pace.

2. Eating Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables

Foods are one of the easiest things we can control. Seasonal and local produce are more nutrient dense than out of season foods that have traveled a long distance. In fact, a study shows that in-season (fall) broccoli has twice the nutrients when compared to off-season (spring) broccoli. One reason is that seasonal and local fruits and vegetables have not traveled long distances to get to us. Produce that travels is often picked before it is ripe and sprayed with chemicals in order to arrive ‘fresh’ to our grocery store. These foods are simply not allowed to follow their natural growing and ripening patterns.

Another reason to eat seasonally is seasonal veggies and fruits provide us the exact nutrition our bodies need at specific times of the year. For example, in winters, our bodies need the vitamins and micro nutrients in citrus fruit to help us fight the cold and flu bacteria. Moreover, turning to heartier vegetables and foods that bring us comfort in the winter is what our bodies need biologically. In contrast, summer fruits and veggies are lighter and contain more water content in order to keep us hydrated during hot months.

So, learn what fruits and vegetables are local to you and make sure to eat plenty of them.

Steps I took in to eat more seasonally:

  1. Download this free Seasonal Produce Guide app
  2. Start going to local farmers market every Saturday morning and for additional foods I go to my local small farm grocery store. While I have a Wholefoods one block from me (yes, I’m quite fortunate), I tend to forget the seasons in there.
  3. Research, update and create seasonal recipes with seasonal fruits and vegetables.

3. Reflecting seasonal living in my daily routine

Reflecting seasons in our routines

As the seasons change, our homes and kitchens tend to reflect this. Our routines change as they should. In spring and summer, we tend to spend more time outdoors, drawing energy from sun and nature. Our immune systems get a boost from exposure to dirt, plants and the ocean. In winters, we tend to gather more around a cozy meal in winters. Our way of living turns inwards and we find out thoughts turning to our families and planning for future. We become more reflective. So, you see, we need all these contrasts to create a harmonious living that contains a full range of benefits.

One thing to note is that our modern work life and technology can throw seasonal living out the window. Over time, we become more and more anxious. We can also start to feel disconnected from our true selves.

Therefore, for the sake of your health and happiness, make sure to strong boundaries in place and continuously recalibrate your way of living with the nature.

Steps I took in aligning my daily routines:

  1. Go to bed not too late (by 10pm). My daily goal is to to go to bed by 10pm and be up by 6am. This allows me to sync my body with the circadian rhythms. I now get up when the sun is coming out (without an alarm clock) feeling fresh.
  2. Get morning ‘Me’ time: Morning routines don’t have to be complex or rigid. I like to take my mornings slow, otherwise it sets a hurried tone for the rest of the day. So, I make sure to have a peaceful few minutes with a nice big cup of tea and look out the window. This enables me to clear my head and sync with the seasons before the day gets busy.
  3. Go out for daily walks. No matter the weather, I try to get out at least once a day for 30 min during daylight. Just feeling the weather on my skin (sun or a cold breeze), makes me feel calmer and daylight helps me stay in sync with the circadian rhythms. Here are some additional ways to reduce stress and anxiety.
  4. Exercise routine to match the seasons. Winters are a time for restoration and reflection. In the deepest of cold weather here, I love going to hot yoga and sit in sauna as much as possible. I do still love to throw some metal around (as I like to call it) for strength.
  5. Proper sit down meals. I continue to make sure that I’m not only cooking nutritious seasonal meals but also making the time to properly sit and eat them with my family. This is now a non-negotiable part of our daily routine.

In Conclusion…

Seasons ground us and guide us to what our mind and body needs. Most importantly, they act as a compass for us to provide nourishment to our souls. We are part of nature and nature is part of us. There is plenty of scientific evidence that is in agreement with seasonal living. I’ll link some of these studies at the bottom of this article.

Fun fact: Did you know that our gut microbiomes change seasonally to adapt to changes in diet and outdoor exposure? So make sure to take full advantage of the seasons when it comes to food, daily routines, the way you live and outdoor exposure to give yourself an optimal dose of health.

This is what it truly means to be in balance with the nature.

Do you practice seasonal living? How has it impacted your life? Let me know your thoughts on this topic in comments below.

Seasonal variation in sleeping metabolic rate, thyroid
activity, and leptin

Seasonal variation in sleeping metabolic rate, thyroid
activity, and leptin

References and Additional Reading:

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