Fall Self-Care Challenge

by Julie Cohn
A Cork Fork and Passport Fall Self Care

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Self care is important all year, but especially in the fall. This is the time of year when kids go back to school (with crazy family schedules), the days get shorter, and the there is more work before the holidays. Now is the perfect time for a little reset to establish healthy self-care habits that will take you into the winter months. Enjoy this printable Fall Self-Care Challenge and commit to taking care of yourself both physically and emotionally so you can be at your best.  

Tip: To get the most out of this guide, do these challenges with your family, a few friends, or even some co-workers! 


Self Love Is Not Selfish

Self Care Is Not Selfish

If you learn nothing from my Fall self-care challenge, please know this:

Self-care is not selfish, it is self-love.

Self-care is essential element of your health. You cannot be your best self at home, at work, in life, unless you show yourself the consideration and compassion you deserve.  People get busy, people get stressed. People are not always as kind or considerate as they should be, but you must be kind, forgiving, and hopeful to yourself.

And guess what?? If you had plans in the past to exercise self-care but never did anything about it, the good news is that there is always another day, another opportunity to show yourself that you matter. Because you do.

Be Kind

Be kind to others, always. Be kind to yourself, always. In this ever-changing world of chaos, believe in yourself enough to know that whatever is going on in your life, you are doing and being the the best you can be at this moment. Let me repeat that for the people in the back… YOU ARE DOING THE BEST YOU CAN!!! Of course we all have goals we want to achieve, but sometimes life gets in the way, and that is okay. 

But…if you are not kind to others, not considerate of the many things others are going through, you are not being your best self and you need to work on that. Full stop: stop judging others, stop gossiping, and start being a better human being. 


What is that ol’ saying, “to err is human”? There is a reason this phrase exists. None of us are perfect, we are all just trying to get through life, the good and bad of it all.  When you make a mistake, when you have a bad day, make a conscious effort to forgive yourself and let it go before you go to bed. 

Or perhaps it is someone else you need to forgive? Holding on to resentment is exhausting and damaging and can affect your overall mental health. Let it go and learn to forgive others for their mistakes too. 

Try this: As those mistakes or resentments start to pile up, do as my sister does. Every year, on the Fall Solstice (September 23) she and her family write all their regrets, resentments, and mistakes on a piece of paper. They start a big ol’ bondfire in the backyard and burn all those regrets away. It is incredibly freeing to symbolically burn your mistakes away, believe me. If you can’t have a bondfire because of regional safety considerations, a BBQ grill will work just fine, then enjoy a few fall s’mores after because chocolate cures all.


This is a new season, a fresh chance for new dreams and new adventures. I always told my son while growing up, “…your new best friend could be just around the corner.” It is so incredibly true. Perhaps you are struggling right now with stress, or loneliness, or the stress of life weighing heavily. But a new opportunity, new experience, or a wonderful new person in your life might truly be “just around the corner.” Start each day with hope and end each day with a new wish for tomorrow. ♥

A Fabulous Fall Self-Care Challenge

The following is my printable Fabulous Fall Self Care Challenge, with ideas to implement each challenge. 

Self-Care Cup of Tea for Fall


1. Enjoy a Fall Day with a Cup of Tea: 

Autumn is the start of back-to-school and busy family schedules. The days are shorter and there is a bit of chill to the air; the sun takes on a yellow-orange haze that reflects off the changing leaves. Take 15 minutes each day to just sit and breathe in the colors, smells, and feel of Autumn with a nice hot cup of tea or a creamy fall mocha. This almond-vanilla tea is one of my favorites this time of year, a light taste of fall without pumpkin spice or apple. 

2. Take a Walk to See the Leaves:

Did you know chlorophyll is the reason leaves are green? Leaves change color in the fall because chlorophyll production stops on the tree due to colder temperatures, allowing the leaves to change to their natural state, the color they were meant to be. Isn’t that both a lovely and sad thought? Right before the leaves fall off the tree, they are at the most beautiful and vibrant! Celebrate the glory of this beautiful transformation by taking at least one walk or drive to see the brilliant fall colors of the leaves. Even if you live in the city, hopefully there is a local park or hiking trail you can visit to see the changing fall leaves.  Bonus? Build a pile of the leaves and jump in! 

3. 15 Minutes A Day to Meditate:

15 minutes. Give yourself the grace of 15 minutes to quiet your mind from the stress of life and take that time to appreciate life. Meditate on a happy memory or a favorite travel destination or use this time for prayer or reflection. Form a routine by meditating at the same time every day and soon it will become habit. 

4. Find Two New Fall Recipes:

There are so many wonderful flavors of fall, so find two new recipes and make something healthy and wholesome for your family. Maybe even buck the trend of pumpkin and apple and find another fall vegetable or fruit to incorporate into your recipe, such as this incredibly delicious roasted butternut squash quinoa salad , this Creamy Chicken Tortellini soup for a chilly fall night, this zesty Game Day Chili, or these delectable Snickerdoodle Ginger Cookies. 

Self-Care Spooky Movie Night

5. Host a Spooky Movie Night:

This is the season to get together with friends and/or family, pop some corn, and dig into a few spooky movies. Perhaps you are already a scary movie fan or maybe you are new to this genre but there are many mild or creepy to enjoy this season. I will be the first to admit I was not really a scary movie fan, but during the pandemic my family started a fall movie festival and watched a few “old school” scary movies. I found them not to be as scary as I thought they would be and even found a few to be amusing rather than scary. I don’t do gory, gross, or religious horror films, but have since graduated to a few creepier horror movies like “Get Out” and “The Shining”. If you truly cannot handle horror, opt for a few “mild” classic movies such as Hocus Pocus and Beetle Juice. 

6. Create a Cozy Book Nook:

Get ready for cooler temps by creating a cuddle-worthy space in your house for book reading. A cozy chair, a nice reading lamp, a warm lap blanket, and a scented candle or two will create a tranquil book nook you will look forward to visiting. And if you are looking to expand your wisdom and understanding, perhaps invest in a few books on diversity or one of those “dreadful” books so many people are trying to get banned. Knowledge is power, enough said. 

7. Visit A Farmers Market:

Fall produce rocks!  Not only are apples and pumpkin in season, but also broccoli, pears, sweet potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, and beets. Your local farmers market will have in-season produce to make your fall cooking healthy and delicious, which is always good for your mental and physical well-being!

8. Volunteer In Your Community:

As a longtime volunteer, I can attest that the rewards of volunteering in your community give as much to yourself as to others. As a volunteer, you have an opportunity to use your knowledge and resources to help others, give from your heart, and improve the lives of those around you. To look for volunteer opportunities in your community, visit Volunteer Match, Just Serve, or Habitat for Humanity

9. Take a 48-Hour Tech Detox:

I’ve had this tip on my other self-care guides but I am curious how many people actually do this. Now is the time! The constant wave of news, social media, and digital contact can be taxing, and having a phone in your hand rather than being with the people you care about is isolating. Do yourself a favor and take a break from all of it and be present in your own life and the lives of your family and friends for at least 48 hours. 

Self Care Home Spa Day

10. Have A Spa Day At Home:

One hour, once a month to take care of your body isn’t too much to ask, is it?  Get yourself a manicure kit, gather your favorite skin cleanser, body scrub, and a few other necessities and give yourself an at-home spa day.  Bonus? Do the spa day with a friend!

11. Celebrate a Fall Holiday:

Autumn is the perfect time to expand your understanding of other cultures by celebrating a few fall holidays such as Rosh Hashanah, Oktoberfest, Diwali, and Dia de Muertos. Teaching your family about the traditions, foods, and culture of these holidays will be rewarding in so many ways and help celebrate diversity. 

12. Decorate For Autumn:

One of the best ways I am able to get myself out of a funk is to clean and declutter my house and decorate it for the season and since fall is one of my favorite seasons, I enjoy decorating the inside and outside of my house with fall colors and accessories. Even just a few pumpkins on your front step will do wonders to lift your spirits! 

13.  Walk 5,000 steps A Day:

This one has a permanent spot on all my self-care challenges for good reason: walking is so beneficial for your body and mind. Shoot for at least 5,000 steps a day and build from there. I walk in the morning to start my day and after a stressful day at work, I walk in the evening to clear my mind. Trust me, nothing clears the tension from a difficult day like listening to a podcast and breathing in fresh air while I exercise my mind and body! 

14. Commit to A New Adventure:

Nothing fuels the soul like committing oneself to a new adventure. Perhaps you have always wanted to learn to surf, hike the Appalachian Trail, or learning belly dancing. Do it. DO IT!! One of the reasons I am doing more walking is because I have made a commitment to climb Kilimanjaro in February 2025. Yes, you heard that right, I am training to climb that magnificent 19,341 foot volcano in Eastern Africa (and enjoy a safari after) and some of my favorite mid-life friends are joining me! Want to join us? Send me an email and I will add you to a Facebook group to chat about the trip, our motivation, training, and more! 

15. Pick 10 People To Send Fall Greetings:

Who says the winter holidays are the only time to reach out to people? Pick ten people in your life you have not reached out to recently and send them an old-fashioned snail mail note card with a personal note. You might be surprised to hear back from at least some of those people and re-establish a languished relationship. People love getting notes in the mail and its a wonderful way for you to let someone know you are thinking of them. 

16. Dance In The Rain

Hear me out, I know this one sounds insane, but I assure you the experience will be mind-blowing! A few weeks ago, while out on my walk, it started pouring, the rain coming down in buckets. I was too far from home so there was not much I could do. I was listening to one of my Girl Power playlist, with Pink, Cindi Lauper, Pat Benetar, Lady Gaga, Miley, Taylor, and more and decided just to go with it. I spent the next 30 minutes singing and dancing in the rain while I finished my walk. Of course I was soaked to the bone by the time I got home, but the incredible feeling I had lasted me for days. Now, everytime I walk that stretch of road, I think about that day singing and dancing in the rain and it seems to help make the walk (and my mood) so much better. Try it, then come back here and share your experience. 

17. If You Are Struggling, Ask For Help!

We cannot go through this crazy thing called life all by ourselves, we truly cannot. Everyone goes through a stressful period or mental health struggle…everyone! Do not be ashamed or afraid to reach out to a friend, a family member, your doctor or a therapist for help, do not struggle alone. Some of the darkest times in my life, when I though I had no one, someone surprised me by offering a hand and a heart and helping me through the tough times. You are not alone, you truly are not. (If you have feelings of self-harm please dial 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Please ♥)

Fall Self-Care Guide Pumpkin Carving

Fall Self Care: Pumpkin Carving Contest

18. Have A Pumpkin Carving Contest

Whip up a pot of chili or stuffed peppers, make some s’mores and gather your family or a few fun and entertaining friends for a night of creative pumpkin carving. Create a theme or set of challenges to make the carving more enjoyable. 

19. Get Out of Town

Sometimes all you need is a new perspective and travel is the best way to see and experience something new. Take a road trip to New England and visit Cape Cod or Pennsylvania in the off-season for leaf-peeping. Plan a family staycation to a city near you. Or plan a girl’s trip to California Wine Country or Palm Springs. A weekend to explore, re-charge, and re-connect is exactly what the doctor ordered!  Psst. I happen to know a great travel advisor

Getting your self-care ducks in a row

20. Make Some New Goals

Why should January get all the fun when it comes to resolutions? You can establish new goals whenever you damned well feel like it, and now is as good a time as any, right?!  Make some new goals now for 2024 that allow you a few months to get all your ducks in a row. 

21. Start Holiday Planning Early

My husband used to think I was nuts to purchase my Thanksgiving turkey by the end of September but then came the great turkey shortage of 2020 and he never questioned me again. 🙂 I start my cookie dough by October, gift purchasing, and holiday cards by early November! Start planning your holiday decorating, crafting, shopping, and cooking early so you are not as rushed/stressed in November and December. You can thank me in December when everyone is running around like a maniac and you are calm and collected. 

22. Join a Club or Group

Looking for something to do this fall? When the weather gets colder, more people spend time inside, so you might as well have join a community club or group and start socializing! Perhaps a neighbor has an awesome book club you’ve wanted to join, or your co=worker has started a D & D role-playing group, find something that fits with your interest and hobbies. If you are a woman who likes to travel and would like to support other women travelers, join the Camp Bloom Women’s Travel Community for travel tips, ideas, and future self-care and friendship trips!  (When you apply for this club, use the passcode Fall Self Care to join) 

Fall Self Care Healthy Sleep

23. Make a Sleep Care Plan

It can be hard to turn off your mind at the end of the day to get a full nights rest. Or, if you are of a certain age (cough, menopause) or even younger, you may be struggling to get quality sleep. Sleep can directly affect your health, your diet, and your mental well-being. Talk to your doctor first and if there are no major health issues causing you to lose sleep, try a few new techniques to get some shut eye such as new comfy sheets, lavender spray on your pillow, or a sleep app such as Calm or Headspace. 

 24. Set Some Boundaries

Sometimes the simplest things in life are also the most difficult. Like learning to say no.  When your proverbial plate is full and people still ask for more and more, learning to say no and create healthy boundaries is so important. If do nothing  else from this Fall Self-Care Challenge (please do more for yourself than this one!!) get yourself the book Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend and read it from cover to cover and learn to say no every once in a while. I was fortunate to have a local group that met and discussed this book and talked about building healthy boundaries. If such a thing exists near you, be sure to join, or maybe start your own group. 

Self Care is Not Selfish

Please enjoy this fall season and try to take time for yourself.  To make this Fall Self-Care Challenge easier for you, I have included a printable version of the guide for you to download and print. Use it with love and appreciation for how incredible you truly are!

My hope, through these tips, is that you are able to take the time to love yourself and give yourself the care and grace you deserve, and  perhaps maybe even challenge yourself in new and exciting ways that enrich your life. If any of my self-care guides have helped you, please reach out, I’d love to hear from you. 

Fall Season Self-Care Guide with tips


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