By Dr. Shannon Vander Doelen, ND
September is associated with back-to-school for the kids, which means both new books and new beginnings. I propose that we should all take advantage of this symbolic time of year to kick the bad habits of summer aside and focus on how we can give our health the fresh start it deserves! As a Naturopathic Doctor, I know it can be difficult to bring balance back into your life. If you follow the five steps below, I can assure you that by the time September ends you’ll be feeling fantastic and ready to take on autumn!
- Ditch the Booze
With the warmth of the summer, it’s easy to overdo it with a cold one on the patio. Throw in a few weddings, some cottage weekends and a far-too-regular after work drink, and it’s safe to say we’re heading down the wrong path. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse’s guidelines for alcohol consumption are pretty generous – no more than 10 drinks per week for women (15 for men) with no more than 2 (3 for men) on any given day. One drink is the equivalent of 12 oz. of beer, 5 oz. of wine, or 1.5 oz. of distilled alcohol. I think we can and should all do better than this! Reduce your intake, or even take a few weeks off of alcohol all together to give your system a much needed break. Certain alcohol may have some health benefits, but overconsumption is associated with aggravating anxiety and depression, in addition to contributing many chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
- Commit to Quality Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is important for many aspects of your health, especially for managing fatigue, stress, anxiety, and athletic recovery. The sun is setting a bit earlier now than it was in mid-July – it’s like a signal from Mother Nature herself that we should be getting to bed! If your sleep routine got a bit out of whack this summer like mine did, get yourself back on track by committing to a regular bed time and a regular waking time that allows you a good 7-9 hours of sleep (depending on your personal needs). The first week might feel rough, but your body craves routine and it will quickly feel much easier to make sleep a priority!
- Move Your Body (or keep it going!)
It seems easier to fit movement into your day when it’s nice outside. A bike ride to work, a swim in the lake, playing beach volleyball, or an after dinner walk – I’ve found ways to be active that don’t require me to be inside. As the temperature cools down, plan for how you are going to keep yourself moving. I’ve commited to two classes per week at my local gym, in addition to riding my bike to work as long as there is no snow on the ground. If you fell off the fitness bandwagon this summer then fall is the perfect time to get yourself back on track. Find something you love to do and make a personal commitment to yourself to do it regularly. If the gym isn’t your thing, remember that you can move at home without fancy equipment. If you dress for it, you can enjoy outdoor fitness well into winter.
- Eat Your Veggies
The summer brings with it a beautiful bounty of produce. The fresh harvest not only tastes incredible but has more bang for your buck in terms of health-value as it’s richest in vitamins, minerals and nutrients at the peak of the season. Take full advantage of the end of Ontario’s harvest season and enjoy the local berries, peaches, pears, plums, peas, broccoli, beans, cucumbers, greens, onions, and tomatoes before they are gone from the market for another year.
- Focus on You
Summer tends to be social with lots of fantastic reasons to get together with friends and family. It can be a busy time of year, and while fun, it can take its toll on us. As fall rolls in, take some time to check back in with yourself. Are you feeling your very best? What could you be doing differently to feel that way? Set some personal and professional goals that you would like to work towards this fall. Have you been neglecting anything in particular? Autumn is a perfect time to check in with your health care team to get the support you need.
Shannon will work with you to help you live your healthiest and happiest life. Since this means something different to everyone, she is excited about exploring your individual needs and working with you to create a treatment plan that is unique and sustainable for you and your busy lifestyle. Shannon is passionate about health and happiness and believes that the two go hand-in-hand.
Clinically, Shannon practices functional medicine. She maintains a general family practice, with a special interest in managing fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression; digestive health; skin health; irregular or painful menstruation; and endocrine/hormonal disorders.