As the leaves start to change color and the weather becomes cooler, fall brings a host of health and wellness considerations. The transition from summer to fall can be a vulnerable time for our immune systems and self-care routines. Here are some tips for taking care of your health during the fall months:
In a discussion with Dr Ruhaib from RubMd, he informed us though the temperatures are cooler, it’s still important to stay hydrated during the fall. The dry air associated with colder weather can be dehydrating. Be sure to drink plenty of water and unsweetened beverages. The Institute of Medicine recommends women consume 9 cups of fluids daily and men consume 13 cups. Staying hydrated will keep your mucous membranes moist, which serves as a protective barrier against germs.
Changing seasons can disrupt our regular mood patterns and cause fluctuations in our energy levels, which may trigger stress. Stress can take a toll on your immune system and overall health. Make time for relaxation through yoga, meditation, or just sitting quietly. Consider adopting stress-reducing habits like journaling, sipping herbal tea, diffusing essential oils, or taking Epsom salt baths. Listen to your body and give yourself permission to slow down when needed.
Eat Immune Boosting Foods
Fall produce like squash, sweet potatoes, and apples provide immune-strengthening antioxidants and nutrients. Incorporate these fruits and vegetables into your diet for an added wellness boost. Foods rich in vitamin C, like citrus fruits, broccoli, and berries, offer infection-fighting properties. Don’t skimp on protein either – foods like eggs, lean meats, and nuts help fortify the immune system. Drink bone broth for an added dose of minerals and amino acids.
Get Enough Sleep
Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night during the fall season. Getting adequate rest primes your body to fight off viruses and infections. Cooler nightly temperatures can make it easier to sleep soundly. Establish a consistent sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Limit electronics and caffeine before bedtime and create a comfortable sleep environment. If you have ongoing sleep issues, talk to your doctor. Getting a handle on sleep sets you up for wellness.
See Your Doctor
Schedule any annual physicals or health screenings that may be due. Blood pressure, cholesterol levels, cancer screenings, dental cleanings, eye exams, and other preventative tests are important for protecting your health. Don’t delay recommended immunizations either. Get an annual flu shot to reduce your risk. Ask your doctor if you’re due for any Tdap, shingles, pneumonia, or other vaccinations. Staying on top of vaccines and health exams makes fall a prime time for prevention.
Wash Your Hands
Frequent hand washing with soap and warm water can minimize your exposure to germs and viruses. Make a habit of washing your hands when you return home, before eating, after using the restroom, and anytime they look dirty. Use hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t available. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless your hands are clean. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, keyboards, and cell phones.
Seasonal allergies may flare up in the fall due to pollen from ragweed and mold spores. Over-the-counter antihistamines, steroid nasal sprays, and allergy shots can help control symptoms. To limit exposure, keep windows closed, use high-efficiency filters in your HVAC system, vacuum often, and avoid hanging laundry outside to dry. Changing clothes after being outdoors stops you from carrying allergens indoors. Shower at night to wash pollen from your hair and skin.
Support Your Immunity
In addition to a balanced diet and adequate sleep, certain vitamins and supplements can bolster your immune defenses. Vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and probiotics have demonstrated immunity-enhancing effects. Chat with your doctor before starting new supplements, especially at high doses. For some people, immune supplements offer a proactive way to stay healthy when illness tends to circulate.
Staying active during the fall boosts circulation, eases stress, and supports immunity. Moderate exercise (30-60 minutes per day), like brisk walking, cycling, or swimming, has wide-ranging health benefits. Assess your current fitness level and consult your physician before ramping up exercise intensity. Cooler fall weather presents ideal conditions for working up a sweat while enjoying the outdoors. Find activities you look forward to each day or week.
Know Vaccination Status
Review your personal vaccination records to ensure your protection is up to date, especially if international travel is planned. Have you received routine vaccines like MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap)? Many adults are behind on immunizations. Talk to your doctor about the catch-up vaccination if you are unsure. Receiving necessary vaccines heading into fall and winter safeguards your health when contagious illnesses tend to spread.
Tune in to Emotions
Colder and darker fall days may challenge your mood. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) leads to depression symptoms like sadness, lethargy, and social withdrawal. Light therapy with daily exposure to artificially bright light often helps treat SAD. Increasing vitamin D, exercising regularly, and making time for social connections also boost mood. Don’t hesitate to seek counselling or medical advice if the autumn blues persist. Tuning in to emotions and nurturing your mental health are essential.
The ramp-up in activities like school, work, and social gatherings beginning in the fall can increase the risk of burnout. Over-committing time and energy takes a toll. Prioritize self-care like healthy eating, relaxing, and getting organized. Learn to set boundaries and say no when needed. Share responsibilities and delegate tasks when possible. Listen to your limits and take a break when you feel overwhelmed. Avoiding burnout helps you thrive during a hectic season.
In summary, caring for your well-being during the fall involves staying on top of preventative healthcare, adopting immunity-enhancing lifestyle habits, tuning in to your emotions, managing stress, and supporting overall balance. Focus on your health, rest, nutrition, activity, and relationships. Don’t neglect annual exams and vaccines that protect your health. The evidence-based strategies outlined above offer a blueprint for protecting your health, energy, and resilience during the fall months ahead. With preparation and self-care, you can embrace the unique opportunities of autumn and fortify your well-being all season long.