This fall, as with most of 2020, will probably have a different look than previous fall seasons. With school systems being partially or fully virtual, many people still working from home, events/get-togethers cancelled, and many travel restrictions put in place, this 2020 has been an adjustment to us all. Since the days are getting shorter, the temperature getting cooler, and the stress of this year growing further, it is imperative to keep our wellness in check! What does this mean? Staying healthy, happy, and productive!
Here are some tips on how to keep up your health as we being to dive into the cooler months!
- Maintain proper hygiene!
Requirements for sanitation due to COVID-19 have made everyone do a double take when it comes to sanitizing their home, work, or self. With flu season around the corner as well, it is imperative to be smart and stay clean. Wash your hands with soap often, disinfect the home and frequently touched items regularly, get the flu shot if you can, go for your yearly check up, exercise regularly, eat nutritious meals, and get enough sleep!
- Foods to boost your immune system!
To piggy back off keeping good hygiene to protect your immune system, you also can boost your immune system by eating specific foods. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes are a great way to get Vitamin C, which is linked to boosting the production of white blood cells! Bell peppers and broccoli are also rich in Vitamin C. Almonds, pumpkin, broccoli, and sweet potatoes are a great for getting Vitamin A. Try adding green tea, garlic, pomegranates, ginger, spinach, acai berries, and broccoli to your diet to really boost your antioxidant intake! Antioxidants are essential for immune function. Yogurt is a great wat to add probiotics (stimulates immune system) to your diet. You can add it to smoothies, eat on its’ own, or add fruit of granola.
- Exercise. Exercise. Exercise.
Whether it be 10 minutes, 2 hours, or cleaning for 45 minutes – get moving every single day. Make sure to take advantage of the beautiful season of fall for outdoor physical activity. Go for a run, walk, hike, or bike ride. The weather is not too hot, not too cold, and most importantly… no bugs or humidity. Move your indoor circuit OUTDOORS – enjoy the temperatures and the scenery while being active. Trail running is a good way to knock out both cardio and strength while also being in a relaxing setting. The most important thing though, is to get get up and get moving. Make it a point to prioritize a walk or whatever you choose to do on a regular basis. If you are sitting at a desk for most of the day, make sure to get up and walk around every 30 minutes to an hour. It is also much easier to check it off the to-do list when you have already made time for it, whether it be in the morning before work, during your lunch break, or late at night.
- Eat Seasonally!
It is important that you incorporate seasonal foods into your diet as the seasons change and the temperature drops. By eating foods that are in season, and preferably local, you are able to get more nutrients and less preservatives because the produce is picked and harvested the same time it is brought to market. By eating locally grown food, there isn’t a need to add the preservatives, or very few, because the time is shorter from farm to table, compared to the travel time and shelf life of others. Root vegetables like carrots, squash, pumpkin, and sweet potato are great hearty foods that are a great side dish; however, don’t forget your green veggies like spinach, broccoli, kale, and celery. Add in some whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats, as well as legumes like beans, chickpeas, and lentils. Try to swap your chicken for more fish like cod, salmon, and haddock, which contain more Vitamin D (something we tend to lack in the cooler months). Spice it up with herbs like turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, thyme, dill, and basil. Switch the summer watermelon and cantaloupe for more citrus fruits, apples, cranberries, and pears. An example of your daily meals could look like an oatmeal breakfast topped with cinnamon, ginger, sliced almonds, chopped apples, and a little bit of honey; lunch: southwest quinoa power bowl; dinner- black bean and corn soup or a chickpea curry with turmeric rice. By consuming seasonally and locally grown foods, you also support your community and lessen the environmental impact from transporting foods long-distance.
- Stay Hydrated!
As the temperature drops and the days get shorter, staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining body temperature, healthy skin, proper digestion, and protecting the immune system! When the temp drops and the air becomes dry, you typically do not feel as thirsty as you would in the hot summertime, but it is still just as important to consume 90-125oz of water a day! NO ONE likes dry, cracking, or peeling skin. The colder months also typically mean hibernating and usually over-consuming foods. Staying well hydrated will be a key factor in making sure your digesting your foods properly and efficiently. It will also help you feel more energized to get in a workout to counteract binge watching Netflix! If you have trouble drinking water, eating soups, stews, raw veggies, and fruits are also a great source of H2O that will help keep you hydrated. One of the most important reasons to stay hydrated, especially during flu season and now COVID-19, is because dehydration weakens the immune system.
- Get enough sleep… but not too much.
We naturally feel tired earlier when the colder months come around due to shorter daylight time. This is not necessarily a bad thing if you go to bed early, BUT that does not mean sleep 10 hours. You should keep your sleep schedule as consistent as possible throughout the whole year. If you go to bed earlier, make sure to get up earlier as well. Get up on the FIRST alarm, turn on the lights, have a cup of coffee, do a morning stretch, take a walk or whatever you need to get started for the day. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night and going to bed and getting up at the same time – even on the weekends. Eating right and regular exercise also play a big part in your energy levels. Avoid all day or afternoon fatigue by staying consistent in eating habits, regular exercise, and bedtime/morning time routines (and not consistently laying on the couch with a bag of chips and dip). Getting as much natural light as you can will also help reduce fatigue – so you should try to go for a walk outdoors every day if possible.
- Are you getting enough Vitamin D?
The “sunshine vitamin” is important for aiding in calcium consumption, bone health and development, and functions in the immune, digestive, circulatory and nervous systems. When you are deficient in Vitamin D, some symptoms include fatigue, muscle weakness or cramps, bone pain, and mood changes. One of the best ways to produce Vitamin D is through sunshine. Get outside as much as possible, especially during the colder months! Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, and anchovies are also a great way protein source that is rich in Vitamin D. Incorporating mushrooms and egg yolks are also a good way to sneak in some Vitamin D. Some common foods that have fortified Vitamin D are milk, milk substitutes, certain cereals, orange juice, and yogurt – just make sure to look for it written on the box or carton. Another way would be to take Vitamin D supplements like code liver oil.
- Try something new! Go apple picking, pumpkin picking, or visit a corn maze. These are great ways to get OUTSIDE, be active, and enjoy the fall weather!
- Do something every day that makes you happy.
Whether that be going for a walk, drinking your coffee on the front porch, reading a chapter of a book, eating a piece of chocolate, taking some alone time, or writing down three positive from the day — do it every day. If you want to add something to your routine to make your day brighter.. DO IT. Be intentional about keeping a positive attitude… it truly does boost you overall wellness.
It is so important to keep your mental AND physical health in check this fall. Take a step back, slow down, and think about some changes or improvements you want to make to your wellness. Be kind to yourself, listen to your body, and do the best you can. Jumping in head first can be overwhelming. Take small steps at a time and check off your goals. It might sound cliché, but “take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live”- Jim Rohn. Your body is where you live and you need to treat it as so – this means what you eat, how much you sleep, if you get enough physical activity, and what you do to keep your mental health in check. Get outside, plan out your days, be productive, and FEEL GOOD.