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I don’t know about you, but as the summer ends, I start thinking about the busyness of autumn. My attention to healthy habits starts to wane. It’s easier to get exercise and plenty of vitamin D triggering sunlight in the summertime. But, when the weather turns cold and life gets a bit more hectic, exercise needs to be more intentional. For me, that means it often doesn’t happen.
While cookouts and parties challenge my eating habits in summer, farmer’s markets, summer salads, beach outings, and picnics encourage healthy eating. But now, I face several holidays that pretty much mess up any healthy eating plans I have. Add in higher stress levels and poor sleep, and well, autumn can be the most unhealthy time of year. So, what can we do to combat this and end the year with healthy habits?
5 Healthy Habits to End the Year on the Right Foot
We all know we need to get more sleep, but that’s often easier said than done. Many of us get up before the kids and go to bed after 10pm. And, one of the worst habits we have is looking at screens right up until bedtime. I saw this unfold in my own home. My older son complained of difficulty falling asleep. After a bit of trial and error, we discovered that his habits of working at his computer and texting his friends late at night prevented him from falling asleep. The effects of screens on sleep is well documented. So, the first step toward better sleep could be cutting off screen time at least 1 hour (preferably 2 hours) before bedtime.
As homeschoolers, who has time to go to the gym? One year, we thought we’d attack this problem by getting a family membership to the local YMCA. Well, let’s just say, great idea but not so great on the execution. We have also attempted family bike rides and hikes, inline skating on local neighborhood streets or trails, and just plain old neighborhood walks. For a little while, we did well, but inevitably, we lost steam and stopped doing it. But, exercise is so important! Struggling with depression, low energy levels, or poor sleep? Exercise improves mental health. This FREE e-book offers a few ideas you can do while you’re brushing your teeth or watching t.v. Now, that’s exactly the sorts of tips I need!
While I’ve not always been consistent with exercise, my chronic health condition and my children’s many food allergies demand attention to nutrition. However, holidays pose a challenge and the temptation to cheat looms. Thankfully, one of the favorites at our holiday gatherings is a lacto-fermented food we call “Dilly Carrots.” They’re basically pickled carrots and all the kids love them! Check out some other ways to get kids to eat their vegetables. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables and a diet higher in protein and fat helps children with ADHD manage their symptoms. Need some proven tips for encouraging children to try new foods? Check out this FREE e-book!
This healthy habit often gets overlooked. If we pay attention to sleep, exercise, and nutrition, our mental health often improves, too. But, we can still experience burnout, memory loss, and negativity. These symptoms cripple us. One of the best ways to keep our brains in shape involves learning new things. If we choose to learn alongside our teens, we homeschoolers can easily give our minds a workout. We also need to cultivate gratefulness even when we don’t feel like it and develop a rich prayer life. These healthy habits not only keep our minds sharp, they keep us optimistic and reduce stress.
Getting outside and embracing a digital detox might just be the most important healthy habit. Preparing a garden or (gasp!) raising chickens brings an educational, intentional focus to that outdoor time. While I’ve never raised chickens myself, I know a few families who do (in Chicago, no less!) and they have been blessed by their experience. Instead of chickens, we have planted a large garden several years in a row. I can say that gardening has played an important part in helping my children understand where food comes from and the complex ecology that surrounds us. We have also always made time for the wild outdoors, visiting our forest preserves several times a year. Get outside and experience the health benefits God provides to us.