As we approach the Autumn equinox (Tuesday, September 23), staying healthy through the Fall season must be made a priority. Everyone has a busy schedule and the setback from getting sick can be frustrating and inconvenient.
We all have busy schedules and important commitments and we know that if we get sick, the responsible choice is to stay home until we are no longer coughing and sneezing. But it feels impossible to rearrange our daily schedules to accommodate illness. So how about taking a proactive approach this fall to avoid getting sick at all!
- Curtail alcohol. Summer BBQs are finished for the year and indulging in beers at the lake is no longer a constant temptation. Overconsumption of alcohol interrupts sleep patterns and is dehydrating, two elements that will reduce immunity. Limit alcohol consumption to one drink a day.
- Get enough sleep. Figure out how much sleep you need by allowing 8-9 hours for sleep for a week. Go to bed without setting an alarm, and take note of how many hours you sleep before waking. Do this for seven days, and then aim to get those many hours every night: weeknight or weekend.
- Get some fresh air. Go for a brisk walk at lunchtime of after dinner. Breathing in fresh air and seeing colours change from green to orange is invigorating and nurturing. If it’s cold out, layer up! If it’s really cold out, add even more layers. Wear wool socks. Put on a hat. Wear whatever you need to be feel cozy outdoors and get out there every day.
- Meditate. Just do it. It is one of the easiest ways to reduce stress. Stress compromises immunity. You don’t need a fancy pillow or special area to go. Just sit somewhere, close your eyes and breathe. Set a timer. Start with five minutes a day. Do this instead of logging on to Facebook.
- Exercise. Go to the swimming pool: it’s warm and bright there. Play squash: it’s hilarious to run around in a little box with weird glasses on and smash a ball as hard as you can. Practice yoga! Try Zumba: learn some dance moves so you can impress your friends this winter.
- Eat vegetables with every meal. Sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas are all coming into season now and can all be roasted, or pureed into soups. Make a big pot of soup on the weekend and eat the leftovers for weekday lunches.
Finally, do not overextend yourself. Create manageable goals and refrain from overloading your schedule with infinite activities. Make time every week for quiet time with your family, when nobody has anywhere they need to be and everyone can sit, relax and enjoy each other’s company.
For more information, read this article from Harvard University Health Centre. There is a lot of practical information here: http://www.health.harvard.edu/flu-resource-center/how-to-boost-your-immune-system.htm
Happy Autumn, everyone!