Monday, September 22, 2014

Fall Has Arrived! 5 Things You Should Be Doing NOW

Do you ever wonder why stress levels seem to increase with the onset of autumn? Although the weather has changed ever so slightly, making the mental/emotional switch from summer to fall often feels as if life’s pace gets kicked up a notch (…or ten). Those lazy days of summer may have been compatible with a looser schedule, dinners consisting of salads or carryout, and a bedtime that is more in rhythm with the ebb and flow of your favorite outdoor events or movies on demand, but the beginning of fall signals a change is coming. It’s a new season, and the energy in the environment is heightened.

Humans are the only creatures on the planet who do not have to adhere to the seasonal rhythms of nature. We can continue to stay awake late into the night, even though the daylight hours are getting shorter. Rarely does the current local harvest solely dictate what and when we can eat. As other creatures prepare for the winter by gathering and storing food and then slowing down, we humans are on an ever-quickening pace of increasing social demands coupled with fewer and fewer hours of sleep as the holiday season approaches.

Whether you have had to adapt to a new routine for school or not, you should heed the demands of the changing seasons by incorporating a little bit more organization into your routine so that you are not worn to a frazzle by the time the holidays arrive. Eventually we experience some degree of burn out and it often coincides with cold-and-flu season.

It doesn’t have to be this way! By incorporating a few new proactive steps each week, your fall and winter can be a relaxing and enjoyable time for contemplation, mindfulness, and creating connection.
This season aim to:

  1. Establish a weekly meal plan with the intention to eat the majority of your meals at home (or meals made at home and taken with you, if you have to eat lunch or dinner at work or school). Home cooked food from scratch contains much fewer additives and weird stuff than prepackaged and restaurant food.
  2. Keep your weekend bedtimes as consistent as possible with your weeknight bedtimes. You can actually set your internal clock by waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day, eventually lessening your dependence on your alarm. Adequate and consistent sleep actually helps to keep your immune system strong.
  3. As the temperatures cool down, be sure to incorporate more fall foods into your daily diet. Pumpkin, root vegetables, winter squash, and cold-weather greens like broccoli contain nutrients that work really well for this time of year, boosting immune function and soothing nerves, countering some of the potentially damaging effects of stress.
  4. Say no from time to time. While there are ample opportunities to volunteer, socialize, and stay on the go, you need to give yourself permission to say no to some of these requests of your time and energy no matter how noble their origin. Sort out your true passions from the “good ideas,” and experiment – for a set amount of time – by saying “no” to all but the ones that you TRULY feel drawn to (and don’t confuse guilt for passion!).
  5. Fortify yourself against NDD (Nature Deficiency Disorder). It is very possible for many adults to exist for weeks – even months – at a time without ever setting foot on dirt, grass, or other natural surfaces. Unfortunately, once cooler temperatures arrive, we often go from the inside of our homes, to our cars via concrete paths, and from our cars to our offices on asphalt, concrete, or gravel. Veer off the sidewalk from time to time. Stroll through your yard. Better yet, visit a park or nature preserve and soak up the sights, sounds, and smells of nature.
      By incorporating some of these practices into your fall routine, you may find a new sense of serenity this year, leaving you a greater sense of mindfulness with more time, energy, and desire to take better care of you!

      Elly Haddad is a certified holistic health and wellness coach and founder of Elemental Fit, based in Nashville, TN. She helps individuals and groups understand the important influence that diet & lifestyle have on health, happiness, & overall wellbeing. Elly is also a writer and public speaker, conducting workshops and seminars throughout the midwest and southeastern US. She can be contacted directly via email here

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