Just when we’ve adapted to brighter mornings, longer days, spontaneous trips away and alfresco eating, the seasons change and with that new routines need to come into action. In this blog post Together dietitian Lola Biggs shares her top tips to help you get back to work.
Saying goodbye to summer is not always easy, however there is great appeal in starting something new.
As we enter autumn, some changes and habits come naturally: more cosy nights in, cravings for warming foods and home nesting rituals. But for many of us, the reality of going back to work can hit us hard and our vitality from the summer may feel like a lifetime ago. This is why I always take a moment to get my back-to-work ‘kit’ and action plan together.
I find giving my body a head start really helps, by filling up my nutrition banks with a selection of wholefood supplements, in particular those rich in B's and antioxidants, and boosting my mood for the season ahead with therapeutic herbs.
I make a trip to the local farmers’ market a priority – the new harvest of fruits and vegetables always inspires me to plan nourishing meals in line with the season. Eating according to the seasons is always a simple way to ensure you are getting the highest levels of nutrients from your foods, and a perk is that they always taste their best at this time.
I recommend taking some time to officially pack away summer, making room in your home and workplace for the new season, which naturally helps shift attention to new projects, enhancing focus and productivity. This plays a key role in relieving stress and boosting feelgood hormones – never underestimate the benefits of clearing space, both physically and mentally.
Sleep is your friend when it comes to re-adjusting to new routines. As the nights grow darker earlier, this can actually become easier as our body clock responds naturally to light, however in reality we may feel growing pressure to get more done while it is light. This increased load can hijack our body clock and leave us feeling restless before bed, resulting in late night screen-gazing.
I discovered that eating my last meal at a set time each day, and adopting a more formal ‘bedtime’ is a simple way to balance my energy levels throughout the day. A little discipline can pay off when it comes to these things, but there should always be room for spontaneity so try not to be too rigid. Being mindful of this can make a big difference.
Many of us won’t be travelling until next year, meaning long stretches of work, without the cushion of short trips away to unwind. It is therefore paramount to plan moments to relax and restore. I advise people to take time out as seriously as clocking in. Find the place, activity and time that suits you, but make sure you put it in your schedule, some planning can go a long way!
A typical work day for most of us means increased time at our desks, looking at screens and, as the weather changes, swapping lunchtime walks in the park to indoors activities including more at-desk eating, not to mention adapting to new deadlines and projects. All in all, a far cry from that Greek island life of the previous months we so enjoyed.
These changes to our routine and new expectations can have a negative impact on our health physically and emotionally. The main areas I notice in clients and myself are increased tension, mood swings and fatigue.
My trick is to partner up with specific herbs and wholefood supplements that can support you, by strengthening your body’s own stress management system. B vits are great when partnered with natural bioflavonoids, for a steady supply of energy to your cells. A group of plants known as ‘Adaptogens’ such as roots Rhodiola and Ashwagandha have been shown to help people in the workplace by improving focus and supporting a unique, calm and steady flow of energy, so there are no rollercoaster rides! As a bonus they can also take the heat off the damaging effects of stress to our cells.
Screens are everywhere and sometimes feel unavoidable, there to make our lives easier and everything more accessible with a sweep of a thumb. However, studies have shown that time spent on them does have a negative effect on our eye health, and we feel it! We can all say we have experienced eye ache after prolonged sessions looking at spreadsheets. The good news is that nature offers some refuge, in the form of potent eye-friendly pigments, found in marigolds and seaweed. These special pigments, Zeaxanthin and Astaxanthin primarily, work like a sunscreen for the eyes – think of them like a natural SPF against those screens!
Sunshine vitamin D stores should ideally be full due to all that time spent outdoors over the summer, right? Sometimes though it is a wise idea to keep levels topped up with a high-quality supplement, ideally no lower than 1000iu and from a plant source – I take these from September to April when the wavelength in the UK doesn’t activate my body to create its own. Mood dips can be related to vitamin D deficiency, our immune function relies on it and studies are growing daily showing its role in many other parts of our body, so it is best to not run on empty, especially when entering a new season.
By taking some mindful, planned and proactive steps, we can be prepared for the natural ups and downs which come along with getting back into work mode – this can give you a spring in your step, whatever the season.