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How to stay mentally and physically healthy during the change in seasons

It’s easy to fall into a bit of a slump once the days begin to shorten and the weather cools down. Staying on top of your mental and physical health is a great way to beat the post-summer blues and enjoy all this season has to offer.

Here are some tips to help you improve your mental and physical health this fall, with advice from the experts at the YMCA of Okanagan.

Incorporate a healthy routine

Healthy routines and good habits have a significant impact on overall well-being. It’s proven to be effective, and it sounds so simple, yet so many struggle to stick with it.

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, so don’t give up! A little discipline at first will pay off in the long run.

The best thing about this piece of advice is that it doesn’t require a major transformation. Small, simple changes can go a long way, whether that means waking up a few minutes earlier to make your bed and enjoy a hot lemon water or tea, working out at least three days a week for an endorphins boost, or having a Sunday night self-care routine to prepare for the upcoming week.

"We encourage people to find what works for them," says Serena Moser, YMCA Health and Fitness Manager. "Building healthy routines is done one step at a time and is most effective when it is sustainable long-term. Eating habits and physical activity play a large role in our overall health and are a good place to begin when working to incorporate healthy habits into our daily lives."

Find a support network

There’s nothing worse than being in a slump and feeling like you have no one to turn to for support. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help, and there are community networks and programs out there to help you feel welcome and connected through the process.

Find a workout buddy who will encourage you and keep you on top of your exercise routine, enlist a great personal trainer or coach, ask a supportive family member for help or join a community that helps you achieve your goals.

"Reaching out to a supportive network of people who care can play a huge role in one's success," explains Moser. "Whether it's your own network or a community centre like the Y which offers health coaching, programs and a support system of like-minded people to provide that little extra encouragement we all need. Sometimes coming up with a plan and voicing our goals out loud to someone is all it takes."

If you’re feeling isolated, don’t be afraid to reach out. If you’re not sure where to start, try researching programs in your area that appeal to you or different opportunities to get involved with causes that you care about.

Practice mindfulness

There’s a reason why the concept of practicing mindfulness is becoming increasingly popular — because for a lot of people, it works.

The idea of mindfulness is to spend more time appreciating the present moment, noticing how you feel right here and right now, and finding contentment without needing or wanting more than what you currently have.

There are several ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine, including meditation, yoga, journaling and deep breathing. You can even take courses on mindfulness if you’re interested in learning more.

"Mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand," explains Jan Locke, YMCA Manager, Mindfulness Programs. "In addition to yoga and the many health benefits offered at our community centres, we also offer programs for youth and young adults from ages 13-30 who are looking to find a better balance and learn coping strategies to help them navigate through life. As an added plus, participants of these programs get a complimentary three-month membership to use throughout the program. Practicing mindfulness is beneficial at any age and we encourage everyone to explore strategies to build a healthy mind and body."

Even if you’re not into ‘that kind of stuff’, it’s worth a try, especially if you are struggling with sticking to your goals or finding motivation. I mean, why not?

Keep moving

It’s a well-known fact by now that exercise does wonders for both the body and the mind. Even adding in a daily walk or 15 minutes of exercise can make a difference!

Some people find it easier to stay active in the summer because of the great weather and abundance of opportunities for hiking, biking, walking, running and swimming in the Okanagan. Enjoy the outdoors for as long as possible, but don’t let the changing weather put a stop to your routine!

If working out in the cold isn’t your thing, there are tons of other options available to you. Hit the gym a few times a week, try a new fitness class to keep things interesting, or even make use of an indoor walking track — anything to keep that body of yours moving.

It’s easy to make excuses when it comes to staying active — not enough time, not enough money, not able to find anything to suit your specific needs or interests — but there is always a solution.

"Whether it's to reduce the risk of future chronic diseases, keep your heart and mind healthy, remain limber and independent as you age or simply to make you feel good — we hope you find your motivation this fall," says Moser. "You don't have to let the end-of-summer get you down, and you don't have to do it alone."

Whatever your age, situation, preference or needs, the YMCA of Okanagan can help you achieve a state of well-being this season. And to help give you a little extra encouragement, the Y is offering new members their first month free this September at their three Y-operated locations — Kelowna Family Y, Downtown YMCA and H2O Adventure + Fitness Centre.

For more information, visit the YMCA of Okanagan's website.

The YMCA of Okanagan was established over 30 years ago as a cause-driven charity with a mission dedicated to building healthy individuals and communities. They provide a wide range of programs and services with a focus on inclusiveness and accessibility, serving people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities through all stages of life.

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