Oct 25, 2023 "Fall" Into Healthy Habits

fall desk with planner, alarm clock, tea, and fall decorations

When it comes to being healthy, one of the most important things you can do is take care of yourself. David N. Mikhael, MD, Family Medicine physician at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center and member of RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group, shares some ways on how to focus on your self-care as the weather changes and the seasons transition.


Sleep is important, and individuals sleep patterns can change with the seasons. “With daylight savings and the clocks moving back an hour, it may appear to be easier to gain some sleep in the fall and winter, shares Dr. Mikhael, “but it can actually disrupt your rhythm and make you feel sleepy and sluggish earlier in the evening due to the sunset time.”

While factors of temperature, light and time are often out of our control, here are some things you can control to help yourself get a better sleep:

  • Stick to a bedtime and morning routine.
  • Avoid things that can disrupt sleep, this can include caffeine, alcohol, and taking long naps.
  • Engage in exercise, as working up a sweat, whether walking or running, can help you fall asleep easier.
  • Think about your sleeping environment. Take into consideration if the room is dark enough, quiet enough, a comfortable temperature, in addition to being distraction free.

Check Your Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for helping individuals’ immune systems and boosts our body’s function. It is also needed for your brain to function properly. In general, most people in the United States consume less than recommended amounts of vitamin D, stresses Dr. Mikhael.

Most individuals receive their vitamin D needs from when UV rays from the sun strike their skin. However, since the days are getting darker quicker and the sun is setting sooner, it causes there to be even less chances for individuals to get their vitamin D.

Here are some ways to try and maintain vitamin D in your body when spending time in the sun isn’t an option:

  • Eat the right foods. Some foods high in vitamin D include fatty fish (salmon, tuna), fortified milk, eggs, and mushrooms.
  • Try to get outside when it’s not too cold on those slightly warmer days.
  • Talk to your doctor and see what vitamin D supplement they might recommend.


Although it might be repetitive to hear every year, it is important to get your flu shot and up your immunity as winter approaches. It has important benefits like reducing doctor visits, and helping individuals miss less time at school and work. If you do get the flu, the vaccine can lessen symptom severity.

In addition to getting your flu shot, Dr. Mikhael shares it is important to avoid people who are sick and to practice good hand hygiene. Just like how it is important to maintain good levels of vitamin D, maintaining good levels of vitamin C by eating fruits and vegetables can help boost immunity as well.

Use Seasonal Produce

Autumn provides plenty of opportunities to cross over your fun fall festivities with making healthy recipes in the kitchen. Not only may eating certain in-season fruit and veggies taste better, eating seasonally may also be better for your health and can be more environmentally sustainable.

While two of your in-season fall produces can be obtained while you are getting your steps in either walking through apple fields or pumpkin patches, there are several other seasonal produce options available for purchase at the grocery store. This includes beets, squash, cranberries, grapes, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, pears, carrots and brussels sprouts.

Several of these fruits and veggies can make delicious and healthy homemade meals, like soups and stews that will fuel you to be your best self.

Incorporate Indoor Workouts

While the weather transitions into much cooler temperatures, this might affect the outdoor workouts you enjoy participating in, but it does not mean you should stop exercising! It’s important to keep your body moving so it is happy and healthy.

Here are some options to keep active indoors:

  • Join a gym and try something new, like the opportunity for a class like kickboxing, Pilates, weight training, yoga, dance, or spin.
  • Take advantage of indoor facilities, like a pool or the basketball court.
  • Continue your walks, whether getting some miles in at home on a treadmill or doing some laps around the mall.

Gratitude Journal

While Thanksgiving is always a good reminder to recognize what we are thankful for, keeping a gratitude journal can help keep us thankful every day. Acknowledging gratitude helps us be mindful leading to positive mental-being and health.

All you have to do is set aside some time during your day, like right before bed, and write down the good things that happened during your day, or even about the things you might take for granted. It doesn’t have to be fancy, nor does it have to require much work, as it can be as simple as a word or sentence.

While gratitude journaling is a great way to improve your outlook on life, Dr. Mikhael notes that other health benefits include:

  • Lower stress levels and better mental strength
  • Healthier relationships and self-esteem
  • Increased productivity and clarity

As we continue deeper into the fall months and prepare for winter it’s important to keep your physical and mental well-being strong and healthy. For a referral to a Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center physician, please visit our online physician directory or call 888-724-7123.