As your days get busy again, don’t forget to build a little self-care into your schedule. Territory’s Senior Manager of Nutrition, Danielle McAvoy, MSPH, RD, offers her tips for easing back into a routine without sacrificing your sanity or your health.
As the casual days of summer come to an end and fall looms just around the corner, many of us are feeling the pressure to get back to a healthy routine. Leaving summer slo-mo -mode and re-entering the real world is like the Sunday scaries on steroids. But getting back on the wagon doesn’t have to be stressful. Focus on a few small habits that have big benefits. Here are our favorite tips for leveling-up your health routine this fall:
1. Drink up
We may be leaving the hot temperatures behind, but water does more than regulate body temperature. It’s essential for digestion and transporting water-soluble vitamins in the body. Water keeps skin healthy and joints working smoothly. Water also supports brain function and can boost concentration. It helps keep our airways open, and deep breathing is an important way to calm stress. To make sure you’re drinking enough water, treat yourself to a fun water bottle and set an alarm during the day reminding you to drink 6 to 8 ounces every hour.
2. Go outside
Getting a little fresh air can lower levels of cortisol, the damaging stress hormone. Spending time outdoors is also linked to better concentration, creativity, and mental clarity, as well as reduced anxiety and depression. Sunlight provides Vitamin D, which strengthens the immune system and boosts mood, and fresh air clears your lungs and can lower blood pressure and heart rate. Even just 10 minutes outside can make you feel refreshed.
3. Fill up on anti-inflammatory foods
Stress and lack of sleep are major causes of inflammation, which can lead to digestive issues, anxiety and mood swings, and chronic disease down the road. Filling your plate with anti-inflammatory foods, such as fresh berries, fatty fish like salmon and tuna, green vegetables and beans, is one of the best ways to reduce inflammation and prevent its harmful effects.
4. Just move
Exercise doesn’t need to be an hour-long sweat sesh at the gym. While that works well for some people, for others a walk around the block after dinner is a good goal. At-home yoga or barre, swimming in a local pool, or even just putting on some music and dancing are all good ways to exercise. Any and all movement helps improve strength and flexibility, quality of sleep, mood, and concentration, and reduces the risk of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
5. Be nice to yourself
Whether it’s a one-time slip up or just an off week, everyone experiences bad days. Allow yourself grace for being human rather than beating yourself up. A good way to practice self-kindness is with positive self-talk, which means talking to yourself as if you were talking to your best friend. Another good way is to avoid comparing yourself to others and focus on being the best version of you. And finally, be patient. Building new habits and settling into new routines takes time.
Research shows that meditation can actually change the structure of the brain, increase focus and attention, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve overall physical and emotional well-being. While many people find that sitting in a quiet place with their eyes closed is a great way to meditate, that doesn’t work for everyone. Meditation can be done anywhere, on a walk, on a train, or while listening to music. The goal is simply to focus on your breath and become aware of your thoughts and surroundings.