Autumn is a great time for reigniting healthy habits which might have gone astray during the summer months. The best advice we can give is to choose a couple of habits that are easy – and to repeat them daily. One of the problems with adopting new habits is that we give up on them way before they’ve had a chance to take hold… research from UCL found that on average it takes 66 days for a new healthy behaviour to stick; that’s about two months.
This might sound like a long time, but the good news is that the more often you repeat the habit, the quicker it will become automatic.
Here are eight ways to reboot your wellness mojo for the new season.
1. Workout before work
Switching your workout to the morning has multiple benefits. Research published in the journal PLOS ONE found getting bright light exposure in the early morning can help to regulate appetite and body fat, whilst scientists from Bringham Young University also found that 45 minutes of early morning exercise was enough to lessen urges for sweet foods.
2. Eat a high protein breakfast
We’ve all heard the benefits of eating more protein – and breakfast is an especially good time to do so. Scientists from the University of Missouri-Columbia found eating a high protein breakfast can cut cravings for sugary foods during the rest of the day.
3. Aim for 8
Researchers from the University of Warwick found that self reported happiness increased with every extra serve of fruit and vegetables eaten up to 8 portions a day. Stick with the manta of two per meal and you’re most of the way there – remember that a serve is 80 grams – about a fistful of vegetables or handful of fresh fruit.
4. Start (and end) your day with 60 minutes of ‘airplane mode’
A report by GWI Social found we spend two hours a day on social media and up to 6 hours a day online. Being consistently hooked up means you never really turn ‘off’. To help yourself detach and unwind, turn your devices off (or onto airplane mode) and hour before bed, and leave them off for the first hour of waking, so that you start your day on your terms. The more difficult you find this, the more benefit you’re likely to get from doing so.
5. Eat one meal a day without distraction
Studies show we feel less satisfied after a meal when we combine eating with other activities such as typing emails or watching TV, with studies showing distracted eating can result in consuming more calories than if we pay full attention. Commit to eating one meal a day without distraction and really be mindful of the food, flavours and textures.
6. Dose with vitamin D
From October to April, the sun’s rays aren’t strong enough for us to make vitamin D, the ‘sunshine’ hormone which helps keep mood on an even keel. To keep levels in the healthy range, supplement with 10 micrograms (mcg) a day during the autumn and winter.
7. Get some headspace
Research into the benefits of mediation and mindfulness has spiralled – from improvements in concentration to lowered blood pressure, stress, anxiety and even IBS relief, learning the art of stillness can be hugely rewarding. It might seem like a challenge, but the benefits can be seen with just 10 minutes practise a day. If the idea of sitting in silence seems too much to bear, start with a 10 day trial of Headspace, whose modern approach to mindfulness meditation makes the whole idea of quieting the mind more accessible.
8. Get to bed early
Not only do we eat more when tired (cue winter muffin top) studies show that just a few days of short sleep (around 5 hours) can leave us feeling stressed, angry, and mentally exhausted. Improve your sleep by ditching caffeine after 2PM, quitting screen time an hour before you settle down and investing in an eye mask – even the light from alarm clocks can disrupt the production of melatonin, the all important sleep hormone.