Keeping up with an autumn self-care routine can feel like swimming against the tide.
Making time for self-care is difficult at the best of times. However, when it’s cold outside and there seems to only be about two hours of daylight for months on end, it can be even tougher to find the motivation to look after yourself.
We usually put taking care of our mental, physical, and emotional health on the back-burner in favour of hibernating and waiting for the spring to roll around again.
The thing is, you’re more likely to need to take care of yourself in autumn (or fall, depending on where you live) and winter. It’s colder, there’s less sunlight, the air is drier, and everyone is waiting to pass you their cold.
As someone who has personally learned to adore autumn, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. Fall is a beautiful season that can be enjoyed just as much as any other.
Here’s how to take care of yourself in autumn.
What are some autumn self-care ideas?
Here are some examples of self-care that you can implement into your routine this autumn:
#1. Wash your winter bedding and make your bed
While obviously we should be washing our bedding every week, during fall, we often want to just hibernate.
Giving your bedding a full wash makes you bed feel all the more cosy during those chilly autumn evenings.
Making sure you make your bed every day also helps you feel that bit more put together in the morning when you might be feeling anything but.
#2. Light your favourite autumn-themed scented candle
I am a total candle fiend.
As soon as those fall-scented candles come out, I’m there waving my credit card.
Find one or two scents that give you a little boost of happiness whenever you light them. They’re perfect for rainy afternoons and evenings while you’re snuggled up indoors.
Pro tip: If you love the sound of an open fire crackling but, like most of us, don’t have access to a fireplace, buy a candle with a wooden wick. The sounds it creates as it burns are dreamy.
You know me, I always have to recommend journaling SOMEWHERE in my posts.
Journaling helps improve our emotional intelligence, self-awareness, mindfulness, and mindset in general. It’s one of my favourite self-care activities for any time of year.
Perhaps write about how you feel about the year moving into autumn, and why you might feel a certain way about it.
#4. Reflect on the summer
If you’re sad about summer coming to an end, whether that’s because you just love the season or you’re not particularly fond of autumn, why not try writing about that?
Sit with a cup of warm coffee or tea and spend some time reflecting on the summer that’s just passed, either in your head, with a friend, or in your journal.
Reminisce about the good times you had, what you enjoyed, what you learned and how you felt.
Give the summer the send off it deserves so that you can draw a line under it and move onto the next chapter.
#5. Practise gratitude
Practising gratitude is really beneficial, no matter what the season.
It improves your mood and shifts your outlook.
Instead of focusing on what you don’t like or haven’t got, it encourages you to focus on what you do like and do have. It’s a much more positive mindset.
I invite you to either write down or simply think about what you’re grateful about when it comes to autumn.
Some examples might be:
- The crunch of leaves under your boots
- The softness of your cosiest blanket against your skin
- The taste of your favourite seasonal coffee
- The familiar, warm smell of gunpowder in the area around bonfire night
#6. Stick to your routine
As the nights draw in, it’s tempting to completely throw caution to the wind and disrupt your usual routine.
This can leave us feeling discombobulated, out-of-sorts, and even a bit low.
This is why I would recommend sticking to your usual routine.
#7. Drink plenty of water
Just because it’s colder and you don’t feel as if you need to drink water as much, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t.
You still need to make sure you’re drinking enough water every day, especially given how dry the air can get during the autumn and winter months.
If you can’t face cool water on a cold day, why not dry heating it up with a bit of lemon?
#8. Eat warm, comforting meals that you enjoy
Eating nourishing food that makes us happy is one of the most basic levels of self-care we can meet.
The fall is a great time to nourish your body with warm, hearty food that makes you feel good.
#9. Bake your favourite autumnal treats
Autumn is a lovely time to get reacquainted with your favourite fall treats.
Apples, spices, salted caramel, and pumpkin are tasty fall ingredients that are all perfect for this time of year.
#10. Drink tasty seasonal drinks
Seasonal drinks at popular coffee franchises aren’t just beverages – they’re cultural staples!
When Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) drops each year, it signals the start of autumn.
A 2019 report claims that since the espresso-based beverage launched in 2003, Starbucks have sold 434 million cups of the festive drink.
Flavours such as nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves (all included in a PSL) don’t just taste nice, they evoke a distinctly cosy, autumnal feeling.
Other fall flavours – such as salted caramel, maple, hazelnut, vanilla, and apple – have also been incorporated into various coffee chains’ festive food and drink selections.
And I, for one, am very pleased about that.
#11. Repeat positive affirmations
Positive affirmations can totally transform your outlook and mindset.
They work by replacing negative thoughts with positive, self-affirming ones. With time, your mind learns to go to a more positive place.
If you’re struggling in autumn, I invite you to find one or two affirmations that resonate with you; that lift your mood and ease your worries.
Some affirmations you might want to repeat out loud, in your head, or in your journal might be:
- I welcome in the new season with open arms
- I am excited for the next chapter
- I appreciate fall and everything it brings
#12. Collect autumn leaves
The leaves on the tree changing from green to red, brown, and mustard yellow is one of my favourite parts of autumn. It’s a reminder of the cycle of life and I find that beautiful.
Autumn leaves can make lovely house decorations for fall.
Bringing a part of nature into your home so that you can appreciate it just feels really nice.
Pinterest has some amazing ideas for autumn leaf decorations, if that’s your thing.
#13. Run warm baths and have hot showers
Warm baths and showers with your favourite vanilla and pumpkin-scented products is a lovely way to not only stay warm during the chillier months, but to also get into the festive spirit.
Baths and showers are a good way to relax and just be. They give you a chance to stop running around and just spend some time with yourself.
As the season’s change, so does the weather.
When the colder weather rolls around, the air tends to dry out and, with that, our skin.
When our skin doesn’t feel right or looks dry and flaky, this can really impact our self-esteem and mood.
Making sure to switch up your skincare to make sure your skin is getting what it needs at all times can help remedy this.
As simple as it sounds, applying a thick, nourishing moisturiser twice a day is a key part of my self-care routine.
#15. Take naps
The colder, darker, rainier days can leave us feeling a little more tired than usual. This is the time of year a lot of animals hibernate, after all.
Taking cat-naps when your body’s telling you to means you’re listening to your own needs and recharging your battery.
#16. Wrap up in soft blankets
Being too cold is pretty miserable and can make you feel even worse if you’re already feeling low physically and mentally.
Don’t just sit there and suffer through it, like I know so many of you probably do. Wrap up nice and warm, and get cosy.
Don’t see autumn as the summer ending, see it as a new season beginning.
#17. Wear comfy, cosy clothes
One of the best parts of autumn – in my opinion – is the outfits.
Scarves, cosy cardigans, oversized hoodies, beanies, and chunky boots. Layers.
The great part is, you don’t even have to buy new stuff, just layer the things you already have.
#18. Make some extra appointments with your therapist
If therapy is accessible and available to you, self-care shouldn’t be used as a replacement for professional treatment, especially if you’re really struggling with your mental health.
While self-care is great in autumn, please don’t shy away from seeing a therapist just because you don’t see one the rest of the year.
Yoga is a great self-care activity all year round and that doesn’t stop just because the weather’s got colder.
Remember, there’s no uniform for yoga. You can wear whatever you like. If you’re not feeling yoga pants and a sports bra, wear something else you feel more comfy (and warmer) in!
I love a bit of cosy yoga. A big sweater, fluffy socks, and the rain pitter-pattering on the window. Bliss.
#20. Set autumn goals
A new season is an opportunity to set fresh goals.
Now’s a good time to update goals that you set earlier in the year and set new ones for autumn and beyond.
Having a short time period to reach your goal can be motivating and can also help you set habits long-term.
However, remember that this is the time of year you’re supposed to be unwinding, so don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself!
#21. Be realistic about your goals
When it comes to setting goals in October and November, in my opinion, you shouldn’t bite off more than you can chew.
Autumn is the season of reflection and taking stock. Nature starts to wind down or go into hiding during the colder months; vivid greens are replaced by warm, burnt oranges, reds and browns.
The warm, sunny summer weather is over, and winter is on its way.
It’s almost like the clean up after a raging house party. Subdued, tired, nostalgic and, for some, a little sad.
Be realistic, set achievable goals… preferably self-care goals.
#22. Go for a walk in nature
Taking a walk in autumn is amazing. The leaves are all crunchy, there’s a bit of a bite in the air, and you can actually wear your favourite jacket without breaking into a sweat before you’ve even left the house.
Not only does getting fresh air and gentle exercise improve your health, it will give you a new found appreciate for the season.
Autumn is beautiful. Even when it’s cold, drizzly and grey.
It feels like nature is packing itself away, ready to reset in the spring.
Get outside, soak up what vitamin D you can get, and get moving.
#23. Watch your favourite spooky movies
I love a good horror movie and autumn – especially Halloween – is the perfect time for that.
Grab some tea, snacks, and a blanket, and get ready to hide behind a cushion.
#24. Arrange cosy movie nights with loved ones
Why not arrange a cosy movie night with popcorn, hot chocolate, candles, and blankets for you and your loved ones?
It’s a super cheap date or party idea and the dark, gloomy weather is perfect for snuggling down with some good films.
#25. Decorate your home
I love decorating my home for autumn and Halloween. As soon as the 1st September rolls around, you can bet I’m unpacking my pumpkin ornaments, light-up haunted house, and autumn leaf fairy lights.
It really gets me into the spirit of the season and can help you feel festive if you don’t already.
I get all my fall fairy lights from Amazon, as they’re super-budget friendly.
#26. Enforce boundaries
It’s important to protect your energy, especially when you feel that you might be lacking it at this time of year.
Make sure to set and enforce firm boundaries all year round.
Practise saying ‘no’ to things you’re not prepared to do.
#27. De-clutter your space
As the trees shed their leaves, a cleansing autumn self-care idea is to shed your old clutter.
Giving away stuff that you don’t need and that doesn’t spark joy anymore isn’t just a cathartic activity, it’s also practical, as it makes room for new things that do make you happy or that come in handy.
Look around for local charity shops to give your things to as they might spark joy for someone else.
Meditating is a huge self-care activity that I would recommend practising all year round. However, if you’re struggling during the darker months, it becomes even more important.
Plus, meditating with the rain hammering down outside the window or the sound of a crackling fire (or candle) is pretty special.
#29. Refresh your wardrobe
Just like de-cluttering, refreshing your wardrobe is a great idea for the new season.
You don’t have to throw away or donate all your clothing items, especially if you do really love them, but you’ll probably be surprised with how much you haven’t worn in years.
Another way to refresh your wardrobe is to pack away your summer clothing and switch it out with your autumn/winter clothing.
This is particularly useful if you have limited wardrobe space and find that, whenever you have all your clothes together in one spot, it gets a bit out of control.
Then, in the spring, you can swap your wardrobe back round again.
I do this myself; every autumn, I pack away my spring/summer outfits into these vacuum storage bags from Amazon and put them under my bed until the next year.
#30. Invest in fluffy socks or slippers
Your feet will thank you.
Frozen feet and toes are never fun. Plus, fluffy socks and slippers feel lovely.
#31. Fairy lights
I’m a bit of a fairy light fanatic.
Seriously – I have different sets for different seasons.
However, they’re especially magical during the darker months; they give off a warm glow that creates a cosy vibe in any room. And, for me, creating a cosy vibe is one of the most pure forms of self-care there is.
#32. Tend to your plants
A lot of plants, especially indoor plants, stop or slow down growth in autumn and winter because they’ve got less light to help them.
However, just because they stop growing, doesn’t mean you can neglect them. They still need occasional watering and the dust wiped from their leaves (specially if they have huge leaves, like Monstera).
Tending to my plants, no matter what time of year, always makes me feel calm.
#33. Buy yourself autumn flowers
Why wait for someone else to buy you flowers when you can buy them yourself?
Autumnal flowers make lovely house decorations and gifts to yourself; they can help lift your mood, make your home smell lovely, and encourage you to appreciate fall that bit more.
Some pretty autumn flowers include:
#34. Cast a spell
Fall is an important time of year for a lot of Pagans, Wiccans, and witches.
Samhain (aka Halloween) celebrates the beginning of winter, the end of the harvest, honouring ancestors and those who have passed, and the thinning of the veil between the living and dead.
This time of year is therefore great for manifesting, giving thanks for the year so far, banishing the negative, and practising gratitude.
#35. Pamper yourself
Taking at least a day a week to pamper yourself is so beneficial.
It’s not about the individual things you do while pampering, it’s about taking the time out to do the pampering.
It’s about making time for yourself and showing yourself that you care – that you’re worthy of being pampering. Not just once or twice but all the time.
Self-care subscription boxes send you a cute care-package every month full of handy self-care items.
They’re handy because once you’ve signed up, you don’t have to worry about forgetting to practise self-care or buy the items, as they’re sent directly to your door.
TheraBox are a wonderful self-care subscription company that send you cute, themed self-care packages every month.
Their boxes are packed full of self-care items, such as aromatherapy oils, skincare, and activities that aim to boost happiness, inspire you, and reduce stress.
You can check out TheraBox if you think this sounds like something you need in your life.
#36. Try light therapy for the darker days
If you feel particularly low during the darker months, consider investing in a light box.
Light boxes produce light that mimics the sun’s rays – except not the harmful UV rays.
People who suffer from low mood are thought to experience a drop in serotonin (amongst other chemical changes) due to the lack of sunlight and vitamin D during the darker months of the year. Light boxes can help return your serotonin levels to normal.
Amazon has some affordable, highly-rated light therapy lamps available.
#37. Set an alarm
The darker mornings can make laying in bed for longer tempting. However, maintaining a healthy sleep pattern is important for our mental, emotional and physical health.
Setting an alarm can ensure you keep that sleep routine – and morning routine – consistent.
#38. Invest in cosy pyjamas
Wearing pyjamas (or at least sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt) to bed wasn’t something I learned about until my 30s. Until then, I would kind of just wing it.
Having a designated outfit to sleep in doesn’t just keep you cosy during the chillier nights. It’s good sleep hygiene; getting changed out of your day-clothes into your sleeping clothes prepares your brain for bedtime, which improves your quality of sleep.
#39. Carve pumpkins
Carving pumpkins isn’t just fun for kids, it’s also a fun Halloween activity for adults too.
It’s a fun, creative outlet that gives you an excuse to invite your nearest and dearest around for some snacks and drinks.
#40. Leave candy out for your neighbours
An interesting part of self-care that not many people talk about is caring for others.
Making others happy can be really rewarding and it’s often the little things that mean the most.
Leaving candy out for your neighbours around Halloween gives back to those around you and shares the festive cheer.
#41. Schedule rest time
We often end up taking rest for granted.
We rest when we sleep, but other than that, a lot of people find it hard to remember that they need to take time to relax and rest.
Schedule in days off and an hour here and there to just chill and take a break is a really simply form of self-care we can all do for ourselves more.
Need I say more?
In fall, all sorts of amazing produce comes alive. Root vegetables such as parsnips, butternut squad, and carrots all make delicious additions – or bases – to any soup or stew.
Soup is filling, nutritious and comforting, especially in the colder months.
#43. Experiment with new hobbies
Picking up new hobbies is always fun and fulfilling.
More time indoors means more time to explore new interests and hobbies that you want to try out.
Knitting, crochet, upcycling, scrapbooking, and painting are some examples of hobbies you can do inside.
#44. Express yourself through art
If you’re a creative person, expressing yourself through art, whether that be drawing, music, dance, or poetry, might come easier than with talking to someone.
The colours, smells, and feel of autumn can be inspiring and help you express yourself through your art.
#45. Practise mindfulness
It’s always a good practise to check in with how you’re feeling and embrace the present, rather than worry about the past and future.
Some ways to practise mindfulness include:
- Watch your thoughts
- Living in the present
- Name thoughts and feelings
#46. Clear out your car
If you’re anything like me, your car is probably full of memories from the summer: empty water battles, parking permits, spare change, and random light jackets.
Clearing out your car and giving it a freshen up for the new season feels really good – like you’re drawing a line under one chapter and starting a new one. Especially if you spend a lot of time in your car.
#47. List things you like about autumn
If you have a hard time embracing autumn and all the change it brings, don’t beat yourself up. You can’t force yourself to love something you don’t. The days are getting shorter, the sun isn’t as bright as it was, and a lot of people see the leaves changing colour as the world dying.
However, if you’re open to it, perhaps try writing down a list of what you DO like about autumn.
#48. Journal prompts
Journal prompts are a great time-saver if you’re looking to start journaling.
They quite literally prompt you with what to write so that you don’t have to spend time wondering; they also give you a clear direction with your practise so that you’re journaling intentionally.
Check out my Journal Prompt Library if you’re interested in starting your journaling journey.
#49. Check in with friends
Checking in with friends gives you a chance to talk about how you’re feeling, as well as make sure they’re doing okay too.
In the autumn, we tend to spend less time with each other. The days aren’t as long and it’s colder outside, so we tend to hibernate a little and not see our loved ones as often.
Therefore, we may find ourselves or our friends feeling isolated.
Checking in with your friends only takes a few minutes and will make you both feel better.
#50. Recharge social batteries
All summer, we’ve been going to BBQs, festivals, and pubs, and we’re gearing up to spend loads of time with loved ones over the festive period in December.
Recharging your social batteries and spending time with yourself (while making sure to check in with friends once in a while) during this period is so important, especially if you’re an introvert.
#51. Shadow work
Autumn is a spooky time.
You know what else is spooky?
Shadow work is the practise of meeting, understanding, and healing your shadow – the part of you that you’ve kept hidden because it possesses traits that you don’t deem to be desirable or socially acceptable.
Shadow work can be tough, but the new season often brings change, and there’s no time like the present to start healing.
While self-care should be a priority all year-round, the colder, darker autumn months can leave you feeling a little flat. Therefore, taking care of yourself is really important.
Choose self-care activities that make you feel good – self-care is really personal and what might make one person feel cosy and safe, might not make you feel cosy and safe.
Listen to your intuition and take care of your own energy.
A witchy ray of sunshine who loves to help others on their journal journey. I’ve been journaling since childhood and have since gone on to earn a degree in English and a diploma in Shadow Work. I love my plant babies, yoga, and anything spooky. Find out more on my about me page.