How to Stay Healthy Physically and Mentally in the Fall
As the transition into fall begins, it's more important than ever to take care of your mental and physical health. Use these tips to put yourself first.
End of Summer – Staying Healthy Physically and Mentally
Summertime is coming to a close, and a big transition like this can affect some people more than others. With seasonal depression, COVID restrictions, and weather changes, it’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves. Without natural vitamin D and regular walks in the sun, taking care of yourself at home is more important than ever. Here are a few tips and tricks to staying physically and mentally healthy during this time.
Why Is Your Physical and Mental Health Important?
Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and wellbeing, and most mental illnesses are common and treatable. Our mental health is greatly impacted by our physical health, so the two go hand-in-hand. By paying attention to your physical health, your mental health can improve drastically.
A healthy lifestyle can prevent ongoing or new mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, and can also help prevent heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other physical health conditions. It can also help reduce symptoms of these conditions or recover from them altogether. Taking good care of your body and mind are essential to living a long, healthy life.
We are all currently going through a unique period in time right now. With COVID, stress and anxiety are currently affecting most of the population. Taking care of your health is important now more than ever. By following a few steps daily, you can manage any physical or mental health issues that may arise.
- Get Active
Physical activity does more than just improve your physical health. It releases endorphins that improve your mood and can reduce symptoms of mental health conditions. Exercise boosts serotonin levels, dopamine, and norepinephrine. It gives you a generally good feeling from a scientific standpoint, but also helps you to feel accomplished and in control during these unpredictable times. Even though gym closures and restrictions are in place, any kind of physical activity will do the trick. Take the stairs, walk to your nearby park, or do some light exercise at home to feel these effects. You don’t need to be a fitness expert, either. Walking is a great form of physical activity that can be done easily and often. The main idea is to get your heart rate up for a few minutes to stimulate your muscles. A quick dance break in your bedroom can even do the trick.
- Get Enough Rest
Sleeping for a full eight hours a day at least is incredibly important for your physical and mental health. It is imperative that you give your body and mind the time it needs to rest. Rest includes not only sleep, but relaxation as well. For your physical health, rest allows your body to recover from any physical activity. For mental health, rest gives your mind a much-needed break. Practicing yoga and mindfulness exercises are great options to help give your body and mind the rest it needs to function at its best. Additionally, make sure you are getting a full eight hours of sleep, at least, and are going to bed and waking up at a decent time. By resting properly, your body and brain will be able to do more and work better the following day.
- Eat A Balanced Diet
Nutrition is key in maintaining a healthy body and mind. Try to limit processed sugars, reduce starches, and incorporate a lot more fruit and vegetables into your daily diet. Often times, switching to a plant-based diet is the best option for your brain, skin, cardiovascular system, and overall energy levels. This being said, protein that comes from meats and meat products can have their own benefits. Eating more vegetables is the best way to ensure you look and feel your best. Eating fresh foods will also boost your mood due to their antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
Some foods to eat include:
- Leafy greens (spinach, kale, and sprouts)
- Nuts (almonds, cashews, and peanuts)
- Tropical fruits (avocadoes and mangoes)
- Common fruits (apples and grapes)
- Forest fruits (berries and wild currants)
- Tofu, tempeh, seitan, and soy
- Beans, lentils, chickpeas, and edamame
- Hemp seeds, flaxseeds, and chia seeds
- Complex carbs (potatoes, rice, and pasts)
- Grains and cereals
Foods to avoid include:
- Trans fats, saturated fats, and hydrogenated oils
- Foods with chemical preservatives, antibiotics, and hormones
- Fried and salty foods
- Sugary snacks, beverages, and candy
- Refined carbs such as white flour or white rice
- Stay Hydrated
While we all know that being hydrated in the summertime is essential, this practice should be carried over into the fall and winter months as well. In the summer, water can replenish any fluids lost during sweaty activities and can help you regulate your temperature. However, drinking enough water should be common throughout the year. One of the most neglected requirements throughout the day is water. Most people don’t drink nearly enough. Stay hydrated during the fall by investing in a stylish water bottle or water filtration jug that will encourage you to refill regularly.
Some benefits to drinking enough water include:
- Clear skin
- Healthy hair, nails, and teeth
- Headache relief
- A boosted metabolism
- Joint pain reduction
- Higher flexibility
- Mood improvement
- Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
With holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas coming up, alcoholic beverages can become more popular in your life. While the occasional beverage is completely normal, avoid drinking to excess. Heavy drinking interferes with natural chemicals in the brain that are vital for good mental health. While you may feel good after a drink, too much alcohol has an impact on mental health and can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety, and make stress a lot harder to deal with.
The same can be said about any sort of vice. Drugs, nicotine, and caffeine can alter your brain in a way that isn’t beneficial for your mental or physical health. All these will do more harm than good in the long term. These vices forcefully release “happy” hormones, making it harder for the brain to release its own positive hormones naturally. Harder drugs can even impair or destroy the reserves in the brain that produce these happy hormones. While these vices can make you feel good in the moment, keep in mind that they can have negative long-term effects on your body and mind.
- Stay Social
In a time where most of us are working from home, it’s important to maintain positive relationships with others. Humans are social creatures, and socializing has proven benefits that include:
- Improved mental and emotional health. Studies show that being social can decrease depression and anxiety, as well as improving overall mental health.
- Improved confidence and self-esteem. People who report feeling lonely have lower confidence and self-esteem. Spending time with loved ones can help us to see ourselves as having a place in the world. We can also benefit from getting an outside perspective on situations in our lives and this feedback can boost confidence and self-esteem.
- Increased quality of life. Studies show that loneliness has been linked to health issues. Making sure we stay social can not only improve the quality of our lives, but the length of it too.
- Reduced blood pressure. Loneliness is a risk factor for higher blood pressure. These effects get progressively worse the longer the loneliness continues.
The Importance of Self-Care
Self-care is a vital part of caring for one’s mental and physical health. It is described as a conscious act one takes in order to promote their own physical, mental, and emotional health. There are many forms of self-care you can practice, most from the comfort of your own home. Five forms of self-care include:
- Physical Self-Care: This form of self-care includes anything that can help your physical health. From getting enough sleep, eating a well-balanced diet, visiting a doctor, or exercising, physical self-care is vital to one’s physical and emotional health.
- Social Self-Care: Staying social has many benefits to one’s physical and mental health. Consider: are you getting enough face-to-face time with your friends and loved ones? What are you doing to nurture your relationships with friends and family?
- Mental Self-Care: Mental self-care includes doing things that keep your mind adequately stimulated, such as puzzles or learning a new skill. It can also include doing things that keep you mentally healthy. Practicing mindfulness or doing yoga can help promote a healthier inner dialogue.
- Spiritual Self-Care: Research shows that including religion or spirituality can help you live a healthier lifestyle. However, nurturing your spirit doesn’t have to include religion. Try finding something that helps you develop a deeper sense of meaning, understanding, and connection with the universe.
- Emotional Self-Care: It’s important to be able to identify and cope with your emotions in a healthy way. Whether you have someone to talk to about uncomfortable emotions or not, practicing emotional self-care is vital in developing a healthy relationship with your emotional mind.
From reading a book to doing a face mask, all forms of self-care can fit under these five categories. In order to feel fulfilled, try practicing a form of self-care in each category. Most self-care focuses on prioritizing physical self-care. While physical self-care, such as getting your nails done or booking a massage, is a great way to boost your mood, it’s important to cater to your mental, emotional, social, and spiritual self.
Put Yourself First
During these tough times, it can seem impossible to take care of yourself mentally and physically. We’re all adjusting to a new way of living, and it can seem overwhelming at times. This, combined with the changing of the seasons, sometimes it’s easy to forget to prioritize yourself. However, your mental and physical health is the most important thing you should be considering at all times. Be kind to yourself and take care of your body, it will help you in the long run. Try practicing some self-care, adjusting your diet, and going for a walk every once in a while. By putting your own health first, you may just find that everything else around you will become more manageable and enjoyable.