It’s that time of year.
Yes, the weather is still blazing summer heat (though we’ve finally been getting a break now and then!), but we hit a transition in the last couple of weeks. Somewhere in there, we reached the point where it’s still dark outside when my 5:30am alarm goes off. There’s about a three-month period — six weeks on either side of the summer solstice — when I get to awake to glorious dawn light. It’s a natural part of our physiology: It’s much easier to get up and get started on the day that way, than to feel like my alarm is going off in nighttime darkness.
So this is my reminder that we’re starting on the back half of the year, approaching autumn, sliding gradually toward the winter solstice, the days becoming shorter and shorter. We’re even getting back into the school year routine.
As we approach this transition, it’s a good time to reflect on our health habits.
- I get energized in the early morning darkness with a contrast shower (most important as the weather gets cooler).
- Take an inventory of your eating habits: Did you take advantage of the abundant fresh fruits of summer, or use the hot weather as an excuse to indulge in too much ice cream, barbecue, and diet soda? Reorient your thinking to the rich fall harvest of healthy veggies and lean meats.
- As the days get shorter, it’s also a time to think about getting your blood levels of vitamin D tested, since low levels of this “sunshine vitamin” have been associated with cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, seasonal affective disorder, and polycystic ovarian syndrome, to name a few.
- And if the summer led to relaxation of your exercise routine, time to get back into some physical activity, since it’s so critical to your health.