Every season affects the mind and body in different ways. The transition from summer into the cooler days of fall brings plenty of health considerations and opportunities, from getting that yearly flu shot to revisiting routines as daylight saving time comes to an end. To help you feel your best, we’ve compiled our top fall health and wellness tips.
Plan for pollen
Seasonal allergies aren’t limited to spring, and you might be surprised to learn just how much pollen is circulating through the crisp fall air. This time of year, it’s ragweed pollen that’s largely responsible for the sneezing and stuffiness. Mold, which tends to accumulate in piles of fallen leaves, is another common fall allergen.
The triggers may be different from those that set off spring allergies, but tried-and-true prevention strategies and treatments work year-round:
Pay attention to your local pollen count, which can be found online or in a weather app.
To limit your exposure when the count is high, be strategic about when you head outside — pollen levels tend to peak in the morning. It also helps to shut the windows, especially on windy days.
Need to head during peak pollen hours? Change your clothes and take off your shoes as soon as you’re back to leave the pollen outside.
Over-the-counter nasal sprays can relieve nasal inflammation and reduce stuffiness and sneezing. Oral antihistamines can be taken preventatively or on an as-needed basis to reduce sneezing, sniffling, and itching. Other over-the-counter allergy treatments include antihistamine and corticosteroid topicals and antihistamine eye drops.
Prepare for cold and flu season
Unfortunately, that cool fall air also makes it easier for viruses to spread, and flu cases tend to ramp up toward the end of October, peaking between December and February.
Getting a flu shot every year, ideally before the end of October, is the best way to protect your health and your loved ones during cold and flu season. While the CDC recommends this vaccine for people of all age groups — infants over six months of age, children, and adults — it is especially important if you are over the age of 65 or living with a chronic illness that makes the flu a greater health risk, like diabetes, heart disease, or COPD.
For an additional immunity boost, look to vitamin C-rich fruits and veggies and probiotics and drink plenty of water. And don’t forget the importance of proper hand washing!
Revisit your fitness routine…
Physical activity is as important this time of year as any other — in fact, regular exercise is yet another way to strengthen your immune system — but the season’s many transitions can easily throw a wrench into your fitness plan.
If you’re struggling to carve out exercise time now that school is back in session or find the drop in daylight accompanied by a drop in motivation, revisit your routine and make any necessary changes. A few ideas:
Use the cooler weather as an opportunity to experiment with home workouts — think YouTube Yoga or strength training.
Gear up for the slower pace of winter with gentler practices like yin yoga or tai chi.
As we set the clocks back in early November, take advantage of the one-hour time shift by switching to a morning workout.
And your sleep routine
Speaking of the end of daylight saving time, while “falling back” is generally an easier adjustment on our bodies than “springing forward” in March, it can still knock our internal clocks off track. Consider this an opportunity to reprioritize your rest!
How well does your bedroom support your sleep? In addition to keeping your space at a comfortable temperature, practicing good sleep hygiene also means avoiding working or eating from bed. Take a look at your pre-bedtime routines and rituals, too, and brainstorm how to mindfully ease yourself into the night, from taking a hot bath to journaling, meditating, or practicing a breathing exercise. Get anything you need to sleep more soundly, whether it’s an eye mask, ear plugs, or a white noise machine.
Get ahead of seasonal mental health challenges
Seasonal shifts can trigger mental health issues. Those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), often referred to as seasonal depression, experience a drop in mood during the shorter, darker days of winter. This is likely due in part to physiological changes caused by reduced sunlight.
SAD is easier to anticipate than many other forms of depression given its underlying cause. If you have experienced SAD in previous years or have a history of other depressive disorders, take time this fall to consider how to tackle potential mental health challenges during winter. SAD is treatable with light therapy, medication, and psychotherapy. In some cases, a healthcare provider will recommend starting an antidepressant in advance as a preventative measure.
Fall is also a good time to build a support system and look for a psychiatrist and/or therapist if necessary. As you plan, use your pharmacist as a resource — they’re here to help with medication management and can collaborate with your healthcare providers as needed.
Stock up on fall health and wellness essentials
Prepare for fall allergies and cold and flu season at The Essentials Store in the Alto app! Our selection of fall health and wellness essentials includes:
Allergy medications: Claritin®, Flonase, Benadryl®, and Allegra®
Cold medicine: Nyquil® and Dayquil®
Fever relief: Advil® and Tylenol®
Covid care essentials
You can purchase these products at any time or bundle them into your next prescription delivery. To browse the selection, tap the "Store" icon along the bottom of the app or in your account on desktop.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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