The temperatures have suddenly dropped, the leaves are starting to fall, us Brits are in our conversational prime because we are talking about the weather! It’s a time of year many of us do not look forward to with the darker evenings and mornings. It’s a time where our healthy habits may have to be tweaked a little. But, what can we look forward to with the seasonal change!? How can we keep ourselves healthier and happier this Autumn and Winter?
Here are the barriers myself and my chiropractic/health coaching patients usually mention coming into this time of year, fun ways to get around them and atomic (tiny) habit hacks to try out!
Physical Wellbeing: Movement and Exercise
Shorter days meaning it’s less appealing and harder to get out for a walk/run/cycle or do some gardening in the evenings or mornings. Some outdoor sports stopping. Feeling the need to hibernate, conserve energy and curl up on the sofa all day under a cosy blanket.
Try something new! Try a new class...yoga, pilates, Quigong, dancing mumma’s, pole dancing!? There’s plenty to try at Southcote/Energise (or online on YouTube as a taster even to start). Try swimming, try an online workout or ask your therapist to give you some new indoor exercises to keep you going! Novelty releases dopamine in our brains (and dopamine drives motivation in various aspects of our lives!). Bring a friend (or make new friends), try a random class or new form of movement (balance/flexibility/strength/aerobic), have some fun with it. My last lovely Recalibrate coaching group all plucked up a bit of courage and decided to try QuiGong for the first time and ended up returning for more classes and retreats. Use this Autum/Winter to try a different form of exercise and get some novelty into your life!
Atomic Habit… Try some deep abdominal breathing to stimulate your lymphatic system and activate your inner core!
Chemical Wellbeing: Nutrition
The inherent cravings for bangers and mash, hot chocolate and unhealthier comfort food!
Use this Autumn to try a new winter warmer soup or slow cooker stew. Eat with the seasons and add a variety of different vegetables to maximally benefit your gut microbiome. Currently coming in are carrots, squash, cabbage, pumpkins, leeks and more! Play the ‘how many random vegetables can I add to this meal?’ game (it has become a competition between me and my partner now!). Try getting your kids to guess all the veg. Research has shown that the closer you get to 30 different plant foods per week, the happier those little gut bugs are. So, grab a pumpkin or butternut squash and get some colour into your cooler days! https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/creamy-pumpkin-lentil-soup-
Atomic Habit… Experiment with one new seasonal vegetable in the next week!
Mental Wellbeing: Mindset and Relationships
Feeling like a Scrooge, stress around Christmas shopping, not wanting to (/having as much daylight to) go out as much and therefore not being as social, negative thought patterns coming up.
Try a gratitude diary before bed. Our minds process information and embed memories while we sleep so an evening/bedtime gratitude practice is a great way to positively hack our mindset for the next day. Research has shown that gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity and build strong relationships.
Atomic Habit… Write down three things from your day (and/or about a family member/friend/colleague) you’re grateful for in a notebook before you go to bed each night.
All-Encompassing Wellbeing: Vitamin D
A fair enough excuse… we do not get enough sunlight here in the UK in Autumn and Winter.
Quit your job, win the lottery and go to a hot country every other week!
Or, you could just take some Vitamin D. Research has shown that around 70% of the UK may have suboptimal vitamin D levels, with around 20% in the UK being deficient. Vitamin D deficiency can cause symptoms of fatigue, depression/low mood, achiness, poor sleep and higher susceptibility to getting ill… so make sure your Vitamin D levels are optimal.
You can get a test online… www.vitdtest.org.uk (/Thriva.com). Better You Dlux Vitamin D with K2 spray is one that I use, but there are lots of different brands out there. Always feel free to ask your practitioner or GP first, if you’re unsure what you may need. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d/
Atomic Habit… Order some Vitamin D and place it by the kettle or your toothbrush so you have a visual cue to take it each day.
Have a happier and healthier Autumn and Winter!
Jennie (Chiropractor and Health Coach)