The leaves are changing. The days are changing. And so can you. Autumn is the perfect time to re-evaluate your lifestyle. Here are 10 healthy habits to start this fall.
1. Get to Bed Early
Now that the sun is setting earlier in the day than it did a few hot months ago, take stock of your sleeping habits. Are you going to bed early enough? You should get some shut-eye earlier in the evening. Why? According to Cognitive Therapy and Research, people who go to bed early tend to have less negative thoughts than those who turn in later at night. The 100-subject study found that repetitive negative thinking (aka negative self-talk) and other obsessive-compulsive symptoms were more common in night owls. Whether that’s an egg or owl question requires more research, but either way getting to sleep earlier should be able to help.
2. Eat More Seasonal Veggies
Fall is all about root and cruciferous vegetables, from beets to carrots to cabbage. And one diet that touts the benefits of these seasonal fall-winter foods is the Nordic Diet. Eating this way means you’re getting a ton of fiber, which is linked to heart health and weight loss. And because the food is seasonal you’re more likely to eat local and getting fresher more nutritious veggies.
3. Walk Every Day
The weather right now is totally Goldilocks. It’s not too hot. It’s not too cold. It’s just right. Take advantage of the weather by going for walks, especially before the snow hits the ground. According to the American Heart Association, brisk walks can help lower blood pressure, balance cholesterol levels and lower your risk for diabetes. And the kicker: walking was more beneficial for these than running was in a study of more than 33,000 runners and 15,000 walkers. Put on your walking shoes!
4. Have Soup for as a Meal
Not only is a brothy soup lower in calories than most entrée dishes, it’s also just as filling. Plus they warm the soul. Detox soups are a good way to get your diet back on track from a summer spent eating steaks and hamburgers from the barbecue. Detox soups, ones made with kidney- and liver-friendly nutrients; think: broccoli, carrots, avocados and spices, are low in calories, fat, sugar and wheat. And the easiest and most satisfying way to enjoy these foods is in a big bowlful of soup.
5. Get Back into a Routine
With summer camps over, weekends away put on the backburner, and spontaneous get-togethers gone to the wayside, it’s time to get back into your daily habits and rituals. Why? You’ll have a better and healthier lifestyle, reports a study in Health Psychology. Creating little daily habits, nuances and traditions create triggers for healthy behaviors. The study found that it’s not the decision to workout, but instigating habits that reminded subjects to workout. Whether that’s setting your alarm early to go for a jog or driving past your gym on the way home, these habits “instigate” the decision to exercise without even thinking, “I must workout.”
6. See the Sunrise
Now that you’re already going to bed early because of habit number one above, you should be able to get up early enough to see the sun rise. And what’s the benefit of being an early riser? The Journal of Applied Social Psychology reports that morning people are more likely to be leaders, good problem solvers, more proactive and able to adapt to changing situations throughout the day. The only kind of negative thing, though, is that these people wakeup the same time on weekends. No early lie-ins for them. But being successful at work and in life seems worth it to us.
7. Go for a Hike
Take advantage of the changing colors in nature by going for a hike each weekend. Science News published a study found that the up and down gravity challenges that mountains and hills give have a special heart benefits. The inclines seem to improve how the body processes fat and sugar.
8. De-clutter Your Life
Forget spring cleaning – think fall cleaning! De-cluttering, such as organizing your closet and garage, can actually help you with your professional life. Data shows that a tidy home has positive benefits on career. Perhaps it has to do with stress, disorder and clear thinking. But either way, who doesn’t want to come home to a clean house?
9. Start Planning and Making Meals at Home
You might think eating at a restaurant is healthier than at a fast-food spot. But a University of Illinois study finds that the two aren’t all that different – the food from a typical sit-down restaurant is as unhealthy as a fast food joint. “Some restaurants give over 3,000 milligrams of sodium and over 300 grams of cholesterol, when it is only suggested that consumers take in only 300 milligrams of cholesterol and 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.” The key is to plan your meals for the week, batch cook on weekends and don’t get tempted to eat out if you’re working late. Control the nutrients of the food you eat by prepping your own food.
10. Have a Fall Resolution
Why wait until New Year’s to create a resolution when you can do it now. According to data published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, just eight percent of people who make resolutions on January 1st achieve their goals. That might be because the resolution is more about the time of year than it is about truly making life-changing habits. And it may also be because people aren’t checking in on their resolutions. So now is the perfect time to revisit that promise you made to yourself at the beginning of this year. Get back on track!