As the leaves and the temperatures change this fall, so should your health routine. While summertime wellness includes fresh fruits, dips in the pool, and plenty of sunshine, caring for yourself in the autumn looks a bit different. Cold and flu season, shorter days, and seasonal sweets can all be obstacles to feeling your best.
Fortunately, you can fall into better habits with some simple changes to your daily wellness rituals. These simple healthy living tips will help you stay well all season long, so you can enjoy this cozy time of year.
1. Eat a Healthy Diet
Healthy eating is key to your overall health, no matter the season. Filling your plate with plenty of vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats ensures your body receives the nutrients it needs. Seasonal veggies like broccoli, cabbage, squash, spinach, and of course, pumpkin are full of vitamins and offer a number of health benefits. Incorporate these whole foods into soups, stews, and other warm dishes to stay cozy this season. Healthy snacks can also keep you fueled throughout the day.
2. Take a Vitamin D Supplement
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, controls your blood sugar, and even boosts immunity. Your body may have a healthier supply of this nutrient in the summer, since the sun is a key source of vitamin D. However, short and cloudy days can diminish these levels. While loading up on vitamin D-rich foods like fish can help, you might want to talk to your doctor about adding a vitamin D supplement. A supplement can give you the daily boost you need and may prevent a deficiency.
3. Get a Flu Shot
Flu season tends to ramp up in October, so now is the time to get your flu shot. This vaccination can protect you from certain strains of influenza, while also protecting vulnerable individuals around you. Flu shots are often free or low cost, depending on your location and health insurance plan. Check your local pharmacies and public health clinics for flu shot offerings, and be sure to talk to your primary care physician if you have any questions.
4. Wash Your Hands
While a flu shot is one key step toward protecting yourself, washing your hands is another. Keeping your hands clean throughout the day can keep cold and flu viruses away. If you have children, be sure to help them incorporate hand washing in their daily life. This hygiene step is extra important as the Covid-19 pandemic continues.
5. Drink Plenty of Water
As the temperature drops, it can be easy to forget to hydrate. However, this healthy habit is just as important in the fall as it is in summer. The Institute of Medicine recommends 12 cups of water for men and nine for women. You’ll want to increase your intake when exercising, as your body loses hydration when you sweat. Keeping a water bottle on hand throughout the day can help you remember to take sips. Warm beverages like green tea are a comforting way to add extra hydration as well.
6. Find a Therapist You Trust
Autumn is a great time to slow down and check in on your mental health. If you’re susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder or experience stress during the holidays, consider looking for a therapist early in the season. Talking to a mental health professional regularly can help you feel your best this season. Be sure to check whether your health insurance plan covers mental health services.
7. Prioritize Dental Health
Dental health is part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Halloween candy and Thanksgiving pie are some of the joys of autumn. However, these sugary sweets can lead to dental cavities. Be sure to brush and floss daily to keep your pearly whites healthy this season. You should also schedule routine cleanings with your dentist as part of your preventative dental care.
8. Catch Enough Z’s
Getting enough sleep is key to a strong immune system, positive mood, and healthy heart. Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep per night whenever possible. If you’re having trouble catching enough z’s, consider developing a healthy evening routine. Turn off your devices, log out of social media, and find activities to unwind. Reading a book, taking a warm bath, and listening to music can all help with relaxation before bed.
9. Get Moving
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, physical activity plays a key role in lowering your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even some cancers. Regular exercise can also help with weight loss or management, as well as overall well being. While it can be tempting to stay cozy on the couch all season, exercise is essential to fall wellness. Take your dog for a walk, hike with a friend, or take a cruise on your bike to get your heart pumping through cardio this season. Light strength training, yoga, pilates, and online workouts are all great ways to exercise indoors.
10. Care for Your Skin
Fall skin care should look a little different from your summer routine. As the air gets drier and you turn on the heat indoors, consider switching to a rich moisturizer to keep your skin smooth. However, you’ll want to continue wearing sunscreen as the season changes. The sun’s UV rays can still increase your skin cancer risk in the fall, so be sure to layer on the SPF before you head outdoors.
11. Schedule Your Checkups
Wellness screenings are central to healthy living, but summer’s busy schedule may have put your preventative care appointments on the back burner. Now that life is slowing down, it’s time to schedule your checkups. These appointments are an opportunity to talk to your doctors about any health concerns you may have before heading into the fall and winter.
By prioritizing your overall health and wellness this season, you can feel your best as the temperature drops. Get your flu shot, eat a balanced diet, check in with your mental health, and practice basic hygiene to keep yourself and your family healthy this fall. Check back for more seasonal health tips from Alliance Health.