The first of October has come around remarkably fast, and the crop tops and bare legs walking past my window as a type suggest that many of us haven’t quite let go of summer yet. However, with the equinox passing, marked by the gorgeous lunar eclipse last week, it is undeniably autumn, or fall, and so it is time to shift our routines around once again. The lowering levels of sunlight, indoor germs and more sedentary evenings can bring about their own problems, so here are my five tips to staying healthy in this transitional period.
Fuel up on bug-blasting foods
If there is one thing other than drunken nights out that heralds the start of university term, it is Fresher’s Flu. Yuck! Spending more time indoors and returning to work and school means that bacteria, fungi and viruses are more easily passed between people. Whilst keeping your hands clean and covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing is an obvious one, you can also eat your way into strengthening your immune system. Lemon water is very popular at the moment, but why not try adding ginger, cinnamon and a bay leaf, for a comforting infusion? This infusion is alkalising, which helps to makee the body a less habitable environment for bacteria. Ginger is a great reliever for upset stomachs as it relaxes the intestinal tract and helps to move gas. It is also anti-inflammatory, great for reducing discomfort if you do get unwell. Cassia cinnamon, the form of cinnamon most commonly bought today, can boost metabolism thanks to the oily compound cinnamaldehyde. This compound is also thought to inhibit the growth of some harmful bacteria, and to treat fungal infections. Studies also show that cinnamon can help to lower blood sugar, particularily useful for those with diabetes. It does this by interfering with the breakdown of carbohydrates (1).
Another great food to add to your diet is turmeric, which is also anti-inflammatory. It has been shown to help those suffering from IBS and Crohn’s Disease, and has also been linked to brain health and preventing Alzheimer’s disease. As well as adding this versatile spice to savoury dishes, try your hand at making “golden milk” or this superfood hot chocolate. I also love Pukka’s Three Ginger tea, which contains turmeric.
There’s something about the golden light and last few breaths of warm breezes that makes me really love autumn. Whilst Britain’s weather is hardly predictable, dropping temperatures and rain do become increasingly common towards winter, so make use of these last gorgeous days. I find going for runs or walks outdoors much nicer in the cooler, in-between seasons. It’s an old adage, but a breath of fresh air really does do you good. A quick break outside improves your mood on a chemical level, and it has become a widely accepted fact that taking a short, active break can improve mental activity. Plus, if you get into the habit of exercising outside now, there is a good chance that you will get into a habit and keep going well into winter (yes, you CAN become one of those crazy runners out in the elements!!). It takes three to six weeks to form a habit, so if you start getting outside now, it will hopefully feel natural by November. For the days when the weather is just too bad, still aim to get some exercise in as the endorphins make you feel good, and you’ll stay fit and healthy.
Take time to feel good
Whilst you may not be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), many of us can relate to the symptoms as the nights draw in: feeling lethargic and tired, craving stodgy, carry foods, and generally having low moods (2). SAD is often associated with a lack of sunlight, which is why it becomes common during this time of year. However, it may just be the cold weather and dark days that make you feel moody! When you are inside, make it a cosy experience with a comforting fire on in the evening, indulgent baths and plenty of yummy, warming drinks! Another trick come autumn, is to start to introduce a few warm colours to your house. Switch you cushions for reds and oranges and chuck a few fluffy throws around for cooler nights. I find colour psychology so interesting -I am mostly drawn to greens and blues, especially in my own room, but in autumn a warm red living room is such an inviting space.