With only a few weeks left of the summer, it’s time to start preparing for the crisp fall days ahead. While August is that time of year where we look forward to embracing sweater weather and soups, it’s also the perfect time to start boosting our immune systems to help ward off the flus and colds that spread during the autumn and winter months. Appropriately, August is known as National Wellness Month, and there’s no better time to do a wellness check-in to make sure you and your family are healthy and ready for the months ahead.
Your Wellness Check List:
Get on a Regular Sleep Schedule
For many of us, summer activities and vacations cause our sleep schedules to get thrown off. Since getting quality sleep is key to staying physically and mentally healthy and alert, it’s a good idea to ease back into your regular routine before school and work kick back into high gear. Everyone’s internal clock is different — readjusting your sleep schedule can take anywhere from one day up to two weeks. 
To make sure you’re in top condition for the busy fall season, you should start getting back into your normal schedule in August. Rather than make a drastic change all at once, you might find it easier to change your sleep routine incrementally by pushing your bedtime up by fifteen-minute segments every two or three days.  Avoiding naps throughout the day and heavy foods, caffeine, and alcohol before bed is also important to developing healthy sleep habits for the fall and year-round.
Start Preparing for Shorter Fall Days
One of the things most of us love about the summer are the long, sunny days. Once fall comes around, the days start to get shorter, which can significantly affect our moods. Changes to the season and light levels can cause Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). For many, SAD can lead to lower energy levels, depression, weight gain, and agitation. 
While shorter, colder days are unavoidable, there are a few things you can do in advance to try to beat SAD. Making sure you’re getting enough sleep and incorporating heart-healthy, unprocessed foods into your diet are great ways to start preparing your body to ward off the emotional and physical effects of SAD that you might feel in the fall. Committing to an exercise routine and ensuring you have access to bright light indoors can also help alleviate symptoms.
Boost Your Immune Functions
Cold and flu season typically begins in October and lasts throughout the winter.  Over one billion Americans catch colds, and up to 20 percent can suffer from the flu every year.  While colds and the flu are widespread, you can still take measures to reduce your risk of illness. You can start by boosting your immune system in advance by staying hydrated and eating a healthy diet with lots of seasonal fruits and vegetables that are rich in nutrients — pumpkin and squash are some early fall vegetables that have many health benefits and are packed with antioxidant nutrients.
Exercising daily, managing stress, and taking natural supplements like probiotics can also be effective in fighting viruses and other infections caused by a weak immune system.
During the summer months, many people tend to enjoy a slower and more relaxed pace — this can all change come September when you’re juggling work, helping your kids with their homework, and the pace of everyday life speeds up again. Reducing stress by practicing gratitude and meditation techniques can positively impact your immune system, help you sleep better, and improve your mood so you can enjoy a healthy and happy fall season.
 Kristen Stewart. February 6, 2018. How to Fix Your Sleep Schedule. Everyday Health. Retrieved from: https://www.everydayhealth.com/sleep/insomnia/resetting-your-clock.aspx
 National Institute of Mental Health. No date. Seasonal Affective Disorder. www.nimh.nih.gov. Retrieved from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No date. The Flu Season. www.cdc.gov. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season.htm
 National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. No date. Flu and Colds: In Depth. www.nccih.nih.gov. Retrieved from: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/flu-and-colds-in-depth