by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
With autumn colors now in full swing, along comes a renewed energy to enjoy the season and change of temperatures. While the house may feel cozy inside, we know there are outside tasks that need to be accomplished before winter sets in. Usually the first few times we rake the fallen leaves, it is invigorating and the exercise is welcomed. Not until the third week of doing this and the leaves keep coming do we often feel overwhelmed to keep the lawn clean. It is important to keep both our mind and body feeling alert and invigorated, so here are five simple habits to adopt and keep following that the American Heart Association (AHA) offers.
Healthy Tips: “Routines can be a good way to provide structure and clarity during busy or stressful seasons, so scheduling meals at home or regular exercise is not only good for physical health, but good for managing stress as well.” 1. Unplug to connect: Try to eat regular meals at home with family, which is not always easy with children in sports or other after school activities. Family meals reduce stress, boost self-esteem and make the whole family feel connected. 2. Savor seasonal flavors: Fall brings new seasonal produce and recipe inspiration for family meals. Experiment with new ways to add extra veggies to meals, like mixing in zucchini noodles with traditional noodles or adding in shredded vegetables to sauces or soups. Try grating raw carrots and add to your pasta sauce that will go unnoticed to the fussy non veggie eaters in the family. 3. Spend time outside: Take advantage of cooler temperatures by spending time outdoors for better physical and mental well-being. Spending time outdoors has been shown to reduce stress and improve mood. Explore new walking or hiking trails in your area or try to go for a daily beach walk. Take family bicycle rides together even for an hour a few times a week. For families with a dog, bring your pet along so all family members benefit by more time outdoors on a lovely extended autumn walk. 4. Shop smart: Grocery shopping can be overwhelming, no matter the season. To find foods that can be part of a heart-healthy eating pattern, keep an eye out for seasonal specials the supermarket flyers highlight this time of year. Apples, pears, squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage and other end of summer items add interest to your recipes. We find with the cooler weather now, more recipes that require the oven on makes the whole house feel cozier and the aroma is certainly a welcome greeting at dinner time. 5. Giving thanks: According to the AHA, chronic, or constant, stress can have a negative impact on health, so it’s important to build in habits to reduce stress. One great place to start is by practicing gratitude. Often these sentiments are expressed around our Thanksgiving Day dinner table with everybody sharing something as part of the pre-dinner grace. But why wait till a holiday arrives to think about what we are grateful for in our lives? Write down three things you’re grateful for each day, or reach out to a friend or family member and tell them how much you appreciate them. For more tips and recipes for a healthy heart and mind, visit heart.org/eatsmartmonth