Autumn Wellness

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Moving into the fall, we are invigorated by the cooler temps, changing leaves, and bright skies. A welcome relief from a hot and humid summer! However, transitioning to shorter and busier fall days can be challenging. Preparing for the fall into winter months can make this change of seasons easier. Here are some reminders that may help.

Get your flu shot and yearly check-up. Although many have become weary of immunizations, don’t skip your flu shots this year. If your annual check-up is due, check what preventative tests are needed. Discuss weight and diet goals with your primary care provider, especially with the holidays approaching. Start taking a Vitamin D supplement to help boost your mood and immune system as we spend less time outside in the sun. Ask your PCP for the correct dosage and advisability for your needs.

Boost your immune system.  Help by drinking plenty of water, washing your hands often to prevent sickness, and eating nutritious foods. If you are feeling ill or must visit someone who is, wear a mask. Better yet, stay home to avoid known illnesses. Be diligent with young and older friends whose immune systems may be compromised.

Get yourself ready for Standard Time. Daylight Savings Time ends on Nov. 5 this year. Try to go to bed earlier, especially the week before the clocks change back one hour. Put brighter-watt light bulbs in your lamps and turn them on earlier. Darker rooms are a safety risk and can be a downer.

Make some plans for the cold months. In the winter, we tend to hibernate if we don’t have things to keep us busy. Plan visits, vacations and activities beyond work or school functions. Shorter days often mean we don’t like to go out after dark, leading to depression from lack of social life. Renew friendships with those you lost contact with during the summer. Stay in touch with those who travel south in the winter by text, phone, email or Zoom/Facetime.

Moisturize your skin and face. As our New England temperatures drop, our skin becomes dry and chapped. Continue to use a moisturizer with sunscreen.

Take advantage of seasonal vegetables. Harvest vegetables of beets, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, kale, pumpkin, soups, roasted squash, roots, and sautéed dark leafy greens are all great choices. Going to the farm stand is an enjoyable outing.

Stay active. If retired or not employed, it can be easy to sit around as it gets darker and colder, but movement throughout the day is essential. Raking leaves or shoveling snow counts, but be cautious of over-exertion if not used to cardio activity. Check with your PCP before beginning any exercise program.

Wear layers and protect your body from the dropping temperature. Make sure you have gloves, a scarf, a hat, a winter coat, warm socks and snow boots. Keep a favorite sweater or sweatshirt to wear in the house and a blanket on your chair or couch to keep your thermostat a bit lower.

Do some “fall cleaning.” Clean out your closet, organize that back room or garage and rid yourself of things you don’t need. Do you have lighter-weight clothes you didn’t wear this past summer or maybe for many seasons? Donate them so others may use them. Donate extra winter items as well.

Prepare your home for possible extreme weather conditions. Do you have a shovel and/or snow blower? Do your flashlights have batteries? Have your HVAC system tuned up. Get firewood while it’s available, and have the chimney cleaned. Do you use a portable generator? Make sure it starts and you have the correct fuel on hand. Storing bottled water and canned/dry food is also a good idea.

Pick some books, puzzles and shows. Who doesn’t want to sit by the fire on chilly winter nights, read a good book or binge-watch some Netflix? Maybe there is a hobby you’d like to start; start reading about what it takes and buy the materials.

Be kind to yourself. The holidays can cause weight gain, shorter days can cause low mood, and the flu season can cause sickness, despite our efforts to avoid these. Listen to your body and give it what it needs.