The busy and chaotic holiday season will soon be knocking on your door as pumpkins and costumes will be lining your entryway in just a little more than a month. Start clearing out the cobwebs and clutter of unhealthy habits as the Harvest Moon rises this week to make way for a set of new routines that will balance your mind and body.
As you fall upon the season of transition and change, harvest the following four healthy habits to build the foundation for a more calming, energetic and fulfilling lifestyle.
Shut Down Early
Access to information, services and communication with others across the world in today’s always-on-the-go society is on a continuous 24x7 cycle. Although technology has eliminated a resting period for companies worldwide, it still is important as an individual to shut down your brain and rest your body for consistent periods of uninterrupted sleep each night.
Getting enough rest can reap bountiful rewards such as increased attention spans, more energy and positive attitudes. But, getting to bed at a reasonable time each night also can make a difference in your ability to function and perform at your best on a daily basis. Earlier bedtimes are especially important this time of year as kids and parents are getting back into the school groove and facing earlier wake up times then they did during summer break.
“I used to be a big night owl. But now that I have a stepson and a baby on the way, I’ve had to adjust my sleep habits,” said Gabe Vela, massage therapist at Elements Louisville East. “You can’t be in a good mood for everybody if you are wasted during the day because you didn’t get enough sleep.”
As the sun sets earlier this time of year, adjust your bedtime by 15-minute increments each week for the next month so that you are getting to bed a bit earlier by the time the fall season is in full swing. Consistent bedtime routines of relaxing, spending quality time with your spouse and turning off technology well before your head hits the pillow also can create an atmosphere that supports more restful sleeping patterns.
“It’s so difficult to lie down in bed and let your thoughts go, especially if you have distractions all around you,” Vela said. “It’s good feng shui to ditch the TV, get rid of your books and only have what you need in your bedroom to sleep.”
Meditate to Motivate Connectivity
You might think that you need your phone by your side at all times and eyes glued to a screen to stay connected in today’s technology-driven environment. However, Vela believes that one of the best ways to connect to yourself and the important people in your life is to disconnect regularly from daily noise and tune into the power of meditation. Sitting still and relaxing for just a few minutes each day can improve your sense of connectivity to your well-being and those around you.
To begin incorporating meditation into your daily schedule, Vela suggests setting aside 15 minutes of quiet time each day for two weeks to clear your mind and senses. During your designated meditation time:
- Sit in a quiet room.
- Light incense with a smell you enjoy, but choose a fragrance that doesn’t have any meaning or attachment to your life.
- Play calming music that you enjoy, but doesn’t have any connections to feelings or events in your life.
- Simply focus on breathing in through your nose and exhaling through your mouth as you practice detaching from your thoughts and feelings.
Move Yourself Daily
After driving kids to/from school, working at a desk all day and sitting through hours of meetings, the first thing your mind probably wants to do after a long day is park yourself on the couch to relax and unwind. However, your aching muscles and tight body are in great need of some type of physical activity after sustaining a daily sedentary lifestyle. Walk for 20 minutes at lunchtime, run around the park before work or do a yoga class in the evening. Just make it a priority to be active on a daily basis to feed the health and wellness of your mind and body.
Disconnect from Screens and Technology
Instead of reaching for the remote to close out your day in front of the television, pull out a board game to play with the family or turn to your spouse for engaging face-to-face conversation. By getting back to the basics of human interaction and connection, you can build stronger relationships with your friends and family. Whether it’s during dinner or before heading off to bed, schedule at least 30 minutes of technology-free time for everyone in the family. This "technology time out" can help re-focus your thoughts on the present, re-connect you with your family and re-boot your system to tackle the challenges that the new day will bring.
“Sometimes you have to flip the script and turn the tables on yourself to get the results you are looking for,” Vela advises. “If you’re busy-minded, you may need to sit down and relax. If you’re lazy and unmotivated, you may need to get up and get moving.”
Make it a point this fall season to transition your current habits into healthier, more fulfilling practices. Harvesting a healthy lifestyle that focuses on the well-being of your mind and body can be beneficial for both you and your family.