Changing seasons brings changing habits. Kristin provides some tips on how to stay healthy during the changes this fall/winter.

Where many of you live, the fall leaves are changing to beautiful colors and where I live I am happy that it’s cooling off to a crisp 88 degrees with 50% humidity. Hey, we take what we can get. Whatever it is that signifies “autumn” to you, it is the transition of seasons that offers a great opportunity to reflect and gather our thoughts about what we need to do to ensure we are healthy and strong for the seasons that lie ahead.

As the temperature dips, I urge you to think back to last winter and what how are you getting ready was uncomfortable and possibly stressful for you. I know I have a long list of things that didn’t go quite right for me. For one, I didn’t have the right coats. I hear you laughing—but yes, even in South Texas we have cold temperatures and we even had snow last year! So this year, I need several different coats so I can stay warm and keep my arthritis under control.

Also on my list?

–          A stash of hand warmers—I have to keep my circulation humming along and prevent Raynaud’s syndrome attacks, so that means I need gloves and heat packs in the house, in both of our cars, and in my office. I had a bad habit last winter of running out of them at the worst time, like right before leaving for a trip. (Quick tip: I love Grabber heat warmers and own gloves with pockets to hold the warmers. I place their feet warmers in my boots because my toes turn to ice and also routinely wear their adhesive body warmers. If your core is warm, the rest of you has a good chance at staying warm too.)

–          My lips are always chapped and any little crack puts me at risk for infection, so lip balm with SPF is in my nightstand, my handbag, my office drawer, and my bathroom. And, I have extra on hand for taking on trips.

–          Did you know your house can be a Petri dish? We all think we are safe when we get home, but it in fact harbors a lot of germs so I keep a lot of anti-bacterial wipes on hand, like the Method brand, in every room in the house. So start wiping down those TV remote controls, cell phones and your handbags, ladies, to ensure you stay safe from those cold and flu viruses.

–          I hope everyone has gotten their flu vaccine by now and checked if they are due for a pneumonia vaccine (every five years). It’s also imperative that your housemates are vaccinated as well.  For a long time my boyfriend hasn’t been vaccinated because he had a severe reaction to the shot. I brought it up with my pulmonologist and he mentioned that some people are allergic to the preservative in the vaccine. Guess who is signed up for a preservative-free flu shot this year? When someone is particularly susceptible to illness in a household, you want to create a “cocoon” of immunity to protect that individual and you do this by immunizing everyone that is eligible for a vaccine.

–          When we traveled to the Grand Canyon last Thanksgiving I realized my ears turn purple and they hurt like hell in that extreme cold! I needed ear muffs stat and luckily had my boyfriend’s on hand (he’s Midwestern born and raised so he’s always well prepared). This year, I’m buying my own (maybe two pairs.)

–          Another tip I picked up and always forget during the chilly months is to stay well hydrated. We always think of this when it’s hot, but it’s equally important—if not more so—when it’s cold. I did a bad job last year of keeping up with my water intake and found myself parched which put me at risk for viruses and fatigue. It’s easy to take in more fluids at this time of year with teas, soups, and hot beverages.

–          Everyone tends to travel more at this time of year, visiting family and friends, and it’s important that you protect yourself from the germs on planes. Though I always carry it with me, I forgot to use my antibacterial hand gel as much as I should, so now I carry lavender antibacterial wipes that I love to use. Make sure yours contains at least 50% alcohol and always follow up with hand cream to prevent cracks in your hands.

I hope you are off to a running start with your war chest of tools to stay healthy and strong throughout the autumn and winter months—remember to take sick days when you are sick, invite office mates to use your hand gel when they visit your office and put away the communal Halloween candy bowl (or just keep it to yourself!).