As hot summer days give way to chilly fall nights, autumn is a great time to establish new routines. Irene Wong, DO, a family medicine physician with Atlantic Health System and mother of two, knows this first-hand. “Embracing the transition into fall’s rhythms can bring a sense of structure and balance to our lives, it just takes a little preparation,” she says.
Here are five practical tips to ease into a fall routine and help bring some peace and harmony into your home — and your life.
1. Adapting to a Good Night’s Sleep
Our bodies naturally adapt to the circadian rhythm that regulates alertness or sleepiness based on light and dark. Shorter days will naturally shift our sleep-wake times to an earlier schedule. Re-establishing this “early to bed, early to rise” routine prior to starting school will help kids and teens adjust to the bright early school mornings to come. Just make sure to still get eight hours of sleep each night and find time to get outdoors in the sunlight.
“Sleep is important, as is exposure to sun, which is a natural source of Vitamin D that helps regulate our circadian rhythm and combat the fall blues,” says Dr. Wong. “Solar lamps are also helpful for those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder.”
2. Organize Your Environment for Inner Peace
Clean out your pantry, fridge, and medicine cabinet and dispose of any expired items. Also make sure your family’s annual health exams and vaccinations are up to date. Then work on your day-to-day needs.
“Think about what you’ll need, before you need it,” says Dr. Wong. “Parents can benefit from planning ahead for the following day to reduce morning chaos. This can include checking the weather the night before, choosing outfits, pre-packing meals, making sure work and school bags are ready to go, and maybe even planning dinners for the upcoming week.”
3. Find Creative Ways to Stay Active Indoors
As colder weather and shorter days set in, it becomes more difficult to spend time enjoying nature and outdoor activities. This is where a little creativity comes into play.
“Think about what activities you can transition to indoors before the weather changes,” says Dr. Wong. “Are there activities you can do both indoors and outdoors? What can you do as a family? Getting into new habits early will help ensure that wellness goals aren’t compromised by cold weather.”
4. Give Your Skin a Little Love
Since our skin becomes drier during colder months, fall and winter skincare should be a little different than summer skincare, for both adults and children. Consider switching to a more hydrating skin cleanser and less harsh soaps. These will soothe dry skin and help restore the skin’s protective barrier.
“The change in weather can bring on skin changes, too,” says Dr. Wong, who lathers her kids often with lotions and creams. “Dry, itchy skin, acne and even eczema often flare in the fall, so establishing a good skin care routine is beneficial at any age.”
For adults, creams with hyaluronic acid for increased moisture and retinol for smoothing and reducing fine lines are best. For kids, use gentle cleansers and hydrating moisturizers with sunscreen.
5. Choose Seasonal Foods Rich in Nutrients
Nutrients diminish between the time a fruit or vegetable is harvested and the time it arrives on your table. That’s why in-season produce is always the best option, regardless of the season. Jersey tomatoes, sweet corn and apples are famous in the fall. So are other locally grown favorites such as broccoli, pears and winter squash, to name just a few.
“Shopping for food can be a chore, but it’s an opportunity to try new seasonal foods,” says Dr. Wong. “Most foods grow optimally during peak season when nutrients and taste are best. Seasonal foods also tend to cost less when they’re in abundance.”
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