As the temperate outside cools down and we enter autumn, many of us may find ourselves looking forward to a series of exciting seasonal activities such as taking a hike amongst the fall foliage or sipping a warm beverage with our friends by a bonfire. Meanwhile, many of us are also dreading and struggling to prevent one aspect of the season: the return of autumnal illnesses.
For those in leadership roles, extended absences related to these illnesses are simply not feasible, and even when they are, you may experience pressure to continue managing your work which can only exacerbate your stress and prolong your recovery from illness.
Thankfully, by cultivating preventative habits now, you can not only strengthen your immune system, but can also ensure you optimize your productivity and performance at work.
As Adrienne Farrell, a National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach notes, “Fall is a great time of year to check in on some of those simple habits that will help fortify your immune system before cold and flu season officially arrives. When incorporated into your daily routine, these goals can help reduce your risk of getting sick, and help you stay healthy as the seasons change.”
To prevent illness this upcoming season, we asked expert health coaches to share their top six immunity-boosting habits for fall.
1. Go to Bed One Hour Earlier
Our health coaches’ top recommended habit for fall? Getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
As the Mayo Clinic writes, individuals who consistently lack adequate, restorative sleep are at a higher risk of falling ill after exposure to viruses. Moreover, their recovery period tends to be more prolonged.
Take proactive measures against daylight savings time and increase your sleep duration now to boost your immune system. Struggling with meeting these sleep goals? Follow these simple tips to ensure you get higher-quality Zzzs.
2. Stay Hydrated
Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist, Elaine Moen, underscores the importance of maintaining proper hydration, even as temperatures cool in the transition from summer to fall. She explains, “Even though it may not be as hot this fall in comparison to the summer, it’s still best to make sure you’re getting adequate hydration. Aim to drink half your weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 120 pounds, plan for 60 ounces of water.”
Incorporating strategies to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day, especially as your schedule gets busier, can be a game-changer for your health. A simple yet effective approach to hydration is to keep a readily accessible water bottle on your desk, to provide yourself with a visual cue to take regular sips of water throughout the day. Additionally, leverage technology by setting phone reminders to hydrate. By prioritizing adequate water intake, you proactively bolster your immune system, decreasing your chances of getting ill.
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3. Use Lymphatic Massage to Decongest
Your lymphatic system moves white blood cells around your body and keeps you safe from viruses and bacteria. However, the natural pace of this system may not always suffice in terms of helping your body operate at peak performance. In addition to exercise, incorporating deep breathing techniques and lymphatic massage can improve your system’s efficacy, fortifying your immune resilience, alleviating discomfort, and promoting relaxation.
As you navigate the autumn and winter seasons, establish a habit of daily lymphatic massage. Consider either scheduling a monthly lymphatic massage session at a reputable spa or integrating it into your evening routine. By doing so, you proactively optimize your lymphatic system’s function, empowering your body to maintain peak performance and improving your immunity.
4. Add Immune-Boosting Seasonal Foods to Your Diet
According to the Mayo Clinic, maintaining optimal immunity requires key vitamins and nutrients, specifically vitamin C, vitamin D, beta carotene, and zinc. However, as the temperature drops and we spend less and less time outdoors, it’s common to experience a deficiency in these essential vitamins, particularly vitamin C and D.
To fortify your immune system, it’s imperative you incorporate immune-boosting seasonal foods into your diet. Seasonal foods vary depending on your location but may include apples, mushrooms, pomegranates, sunflower seeds, pumpkin, and sweet potato.
Farrell notes “ Eating in-season fruits and vegetables exposes you to a wider variety of nutrients. This is important for overall health and well-being. Likewise, fruits and vegetables begin to lose nutrients after being harvested, so eating them in-season ensures that you’re getting the most nutrients possible.”
5. Exercise Daily
While exercise alone doesn’t serve as an impenetrable shield against fall illnesses, most health professional acknowledge that regular physical activity substantially contributes to an enhanced sense of well-being and overall health. Invariably, improving your well-being bolsters your immunity. Additionally, scientists note that exercise plays a pivotal role in various immune-enhancing mechanisms, theorizing that it aids your body in eliminating harmful bacteria and inhibits bacterial growth. It’s also a powerful stress-reduction tool.
To maintain a resilient immune system as the weather cools, you should commit to daily exercise. Adapt your fitness routine to the changing seasons by transitioning to indoor workouts or modifying outdoor activities to accommodate lower temperatures and wind.
As Moen suggests, “Since fall tends to be windier, do your best to avoid things that will further stimulate wind, to protect your immune system. For example, if you cycle outdoors in the summer, switch that to walking instead.”
6. Develop a Cozy, Stress-Relieving Routine
As the weather gets colder, seize the opportunity to curate self-care habits you can use to manage and mitigate stress.
Farrell notes, “As the hustle and bustle of summer comes to a close, fall is a great time to begin to wind down and prioritize rest. Taking some time for yourself to relax and recharge can have many benefits for your physical and mental health, including reducing your risk of developing chronic diseases, anxiety, and depression, and improving your mood, cognition, and immune function.”
Allocate time for your personal interests and moments of tranquility by cultivating a hydrating skincare regimen, taking time to meditate, or cozying up with a book and a cup of tea by the fireplace.
The Bottom Line
By cultivating these immunity-enhancing habits now, you lay a firm foundation that supports your body in warding off illness as the season progresses. This proactive approach to wellness enables you to sustain peak performance, whether you’re in the comfort of your home or managing the demands of your professional life.
For help transitioning your health routine for fall and setting new goals, book a complimentary consultation with an Arootah health coach today. Together, we’ll chart a course towards your optimal well-being.