Autumn is a time of change. As leaves return to the ground and grasses return their nourishment to the soil, so too are our energies returning inward to be stored, cultivated, and transformed.

Autumn is the best time to harvest the roots, some berries, flowers, and cold weather herbs that we miss once the heat of summer comes in.

The first time you feel that chill in the air is when it’s best to start thinking about changing your shopping list and what you’ve been cooking. As Summer starts to fade, the call of Autumn is in the air. The leaves start to dry and fall, and a time of rest is approaching.

If you don’t listen to the season and start reigning some of that Summer energy back, you’ll end up experiencing fatigue, or aches and pains. Summer, with its expansive energy, is over, and your energy is now pulling back and preparing for winter. If you keep dancing to Summer’s tune, you will wear yourself out.

Autumn is a time for organisation, for defining and setting limits, and a time for setting boundaries. It focuses its energy internally and if you do likewise it is a time to flourish and grow in understanding of yourself. It is a time to finish off projects. Clearing out the closet is a great Autumn activity, particularly if you focus on ‘letting go’.

Autumn Energy

Chinese medicine sees Autumn as a season associated with the lungs. The energy of the lungs also has meaning, this energy focusses on ‘letting go’. This makes Autumn a good time to be mindful. To consider things that you are holding onto that might be holding you back. A time to consider and let go of these things to make room for future growth and learning. 

The wind tends to dry us out at this time – our lips chap, and we are more likely to have dry coughs and skin. In Chinese medicine, the condition of your skin reflects the state if your lungs, so protect them by keeping your skin moist.


It is still an introspective focus, looking, and considering things internally; much like a tree withdrawing its energy from its leaves and focusing inward instead. It is a time of considering the harvest life offers and setting aside what isn’t helpful so that you can move forward.

Accompanying the energy of the lungs is their representative emotions, sadness, and grief. The lungs are associated with attachment. If you are holding onto negative things, or have difficulty letting go, there may be an imbalance in the lungs. Well balanced lungs lead to a positive frame of mind. 

Clear thinking and communication, openness, positive self-image, relaxation, happiness, and ease with letting go follow when the lungs are balanced. This is the direction our energy should take during Autumn. Considering what you are holding onto and balancing it out to reach the positive outcome.

The large intestine is the partner to the lungs. The lungs bring in the new, while the intestines carry out the waste. They help the lungs to truly let things go. By carrying out the old intestines allow the lungs to bring in the new. Autumn is a good time to do this. The energy of Autumn can be strengthened by breathing deeply. Perhaps take a brisk walk outside in the Autumn air.

Foods that Help Moisten

With the change in weather, it is good to eat foods that aren’t as cooling.

Move away from the fresh, raw foods of Summer. You should eat foods with longer cooking times.

Look for nourishing and hearty foods that are easy to digest. Soups and stews are beneficial here. Moist foods and foods that support lung function should also be sought after. As should foods that help combat the natural drying nature of Autumn.

Consider the following foods to eat during Autumn:

  • Garlic
  • Sweet potato
  • Ginger
  • Onion
  • Cabbage
  • Pears
  • Walnuts
  • Black pepper
  • Radish
  • Rice
  • Vinegar
  • Lemons
  • Apples
  • Chilli
  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamom
  • Leeks
  • Miso
  • Navy Beans
  • Soy Products
  • Almonds
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Cheese
  • Limes
  • Plums
  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Mustard Greens
  • Apricot
  • Banana
  • Eggs
  • Sourdough Bread
  • Sauerkraut
  • Olives
  • Pickles
  • Yoghurt
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes

Harmonising with Autumn

Living in harmony with the world around you helps you to live your best life.

Taking the time to slow down and preparing to rest – like nature – is beneficial during Autumn.

Sleeping a little longer, moving forwards, focusing on letting go and eating warming, moist foods are great goals for Autumn.

Make the most of this season of change, so that it can have a positive impact on your life.

Katherine Knott

Katherine is a certified naturopath and the founding director of Acorn and Oak.   She began studying Naturopathy when she was 18 years old and has practiced in both Melbourne and rural Victoria.  She has also studied 2 1/2 years of nursing and midwifery, but decided that she was happier to work with women as […]

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