When the seasons change, it is the perfect time to assess our habits and make some healthy changes in our lifestyles. Fall brings new challenges. We may have different work and school schedules and the added pressures of holiday planning. These challenges impact our ability to feel good, work well, and make smart decisions. Try these five habits to achieve your healthy autumn lifestyle.

  1. Healthy eating

    Fall produce is a sensory experience. Pumpkin, squash, beets, and cranberries are a pleasure to see, taste and smell. Fresh fall produce is usually local, inexpensive, and loaded with nutrition. Try roasting squash or beets. Make a quick and easy soup or stew for a delicious Sunday meal. These can often be packaged in individual servings and frozen to provide you with healthy meals all week long. Even though the weather may have cooled, you still need to drink plenty of water. We lose fluid continuously throughout the day. Drinking water helps maintain the proper balance of body fluids.

  2. Get moving

    It may be tempting to join your friends at happy hour, but you can also socialize at the gym. According to the American Heart Association, we need at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic physical activity. Many people find that their peak athletic performance happens during the after-work hours, around 4 - 6 p.m. But if that does not work for you, don't worry. The key is to incorporate some form of physical activity into your day consistently. You can also break your activity up into smaller time increments by parking farther away and walking to and from the office, or taking a ten-minute walk during your lunch break.

  3. Take clarity breaks

    Whether it is work, school, caring for your family, or just the demands of daily life, sometimes we need a break. A clarity break is simply taking a regular break to regroup, refocus and reflect. It's free time. You can use it to review your progress or to brainstorm. It can take place anywhere, but it works best when done away from the noise and interruptions of your regular workplace. Turn off your electronic devices. Meditate, or just let your mind wander. If you have a great idea, write it down on a piece of paper. You may think you are too busy to take a clarity break, but it can reboot your brain.

  4. Get out in the open air

    Just because it is summer, you don't have to spend all your time indoors. You need to go outside. Scientific studies have shown that the outdoors benefits us mentally and physically. People who spend time in nature report improved short-term memory and reduced mental fatigue. It also improves concentration and boosts levels of creativity. Some studies suggest that exposure to nature can help those with ADHD manage their symptoms. Physical benefits include better vision, reduced inflammation, and an improved immune system. In some studies, walking in the forest decreased individual's heart rates and levels of cortisol. So enjoy that crisp autumn air in a park, trail, pumpkin patch or fall festival. The exercise will also count towards your exercise regimen. Or before you sleep, go outside and look at the stars. It's good for the soul.

  5. Reduce your stress

    When you start to feel overwhelmed, step back for a moment. Reassess that "to do" list that is running in your head. You don't have to do everything yourself.  Perhaps some items can be delayed, delegated, or eliminated. For quick, effective stress relief, practice deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation. We all need sleep. Make sure you get sufficient refreshing sleep each night. If you are plagued with insomnia, your mind may be overstimulated. All the tasks you failed to accomplish today and all the tasks which are waiting for you tomorrow can gang up on you. Create a soothing sleep environment. Turn off your electronic devices and, if possible, put your phone in another room.

Take care of yourself and enjoy all the pleasures fall has to offer.

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