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Ready for a post-summer reboot?

Though it’s hard to say goodbye to summer, there’s something about September that stirs up a sense of renewal and positive change.

In fact, the first month of autumn is often considered a natural transition point to put past behaviour behind us and become a new, healthier version of ourselves – a term that's been coined the “Fresh Start Effect.”

Before you despair that summer is over, consider turning the change of season into an opportunity to reset healthy habits and set the tone for a positive and balanced autumn. 

Here are a few tips to kick-start your routine.

Prioritise sleep

Everyone’s experienced the fatigue, crankiness and lack of focus that follows a poor night’s sleep. But the cost of missing out on the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep is more than just bad moods. Long-term sleep deprivation puts you at risk of serious health issues, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Uninterrupted sleep not only boosts immunity and well-being, but it also gives our tired eyes the chance to rest and replenish themselves. Without enough sleep, the eyes becoming fatigued, itchy and sore, and you’ll likely experience eye twitches. 

While the humidity of summer can take its toll on the quality of our sleep, autumn’s cooler nights and shorter days provide perfect sleeping conditions. With a few simple adjustments, you can work your way back to a good night's sleep. Consider establishing a regular bedtime routine which includes calming rituals such as meditation or listening to quiet music. Limiting the use of digital devices before bedtime, reducing your caffeine consumption and adjusting the room temperature can all help you sleep better.

Eat well

Summer barbeques, beachside eating and umbrella-clad cocktails can all get in the way of healthy eating. But instead of beating yourself up, hit the reset button and start tucking into a healthy diet. 

Start with the basics: focus on eating less processed food and more fruit and veg. Piling your plate with fruits, vegetables, and other wholesome foods will help your body fight off winter’s barrage of seasonal nasties, like cold and flu. Eating a balanced diet benefits our immunity, heart and waistline. It also helps to keep our eyes healthy and protects our vision from conditions such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. 

Planning meals, keeping tempting foods out of the cupboards and cutting back on alcohol can all help to get you back on track. 

Drink up

As the days get cooler, it’s easy to overlook the importance of staying hydrated. And while you might not feel thirsty, getting enough water is just as important in the autumn and winter as it is in the warmer months.

According to the old rule of thumb, you should aim to consume eight glasses of water a day. But here’s the catch: you don’t have to drink all that water. Twenty percent of our daily fluid intake comes from water-rich foods. Courgette, pumpkin, pears, apples and sprouts are just a few of the autumn foods that will help you stay hydrated and boost eye health.

autumn leaves falling

Get your body moving

Exercising outside doesn’t have to end when the first leaves drop. Autumn is a great time to relish the cooler weather before winter rolls in. Biking, hiking, gardening and even a stroll in the park are all great autumn activities. But if the dark mornings are killing your motivation, find a way to bring your workout indoors. Complete a quick floor session in your living room, download a fitness app or sign up for a yoga class. 

Get outside

Research has shown time and time again that the more time we spend outdoors, the happier and healthier we become. And the benefits of outdoor recreation extend far beyond physical health. While you won’t be bathing in 30 degrees, the amount of light you absorb on even a cloudy day is enough to counteract the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Spending time in natural settings has also been shown to improve creativity, motivation, cognitive function and healthy vision. Even if you have a busy schedule or live in an urban environment, you can still fit nature into your day-to-day with a few simple strategies. Instead of scrolling through your emails during your break, take a walk around the block. Or better yet, work outdoors if your schedule allows. And if mealtimes are the only break you take, try dining al fresco.  

Beat allergies

Eye allergies can occur at any time of year, but they're especially common in autumn due to an influx of airborne allergens, such as mould spores or ragweed pollen. When these airborne allergens come into contact with the eye, a substance called histamine is released which causes uncomfortable symptoms including dry, itchy or scratchy sensations. If eye allergy symptoms are mild, over-the-counter eye drops are usually effective. However, those who suffer from severe allergies may need to visit a doctor to be prescribed stronger medication.  

Article originally posted in August 2019. It has since been updated.