During this time of year (September), a lot of people tend to get sick. There are four main reasons why September is an important time to take extra care of your health, keeping the immune system healthy to fight off pathogens that can lead to sickness.
First, September forces our bodies to experience seasonal change. Summer is ending and Fall is coming, meaning the lovely warmth of the sun is fading and the days are getting cooler. And even though we know that September brings cooler weather, we don't like to admit it! Many people try to protest Mother Nature by continuing to wear sundresses, flip flops, and shorts, even when the weather really calls for a jacket, socks, and heavy pants. Even though we deny the weather change mentally, we physically suffer; shivering from time-to-time and causing our bodies unnecessary stress, which can lead to decreased immunity.
Second, September causes most people to adjust their schedules. Back-to-school means back-to-early-mornings and long days. Gone are the vacation days of lounging in the sun or sleeping-in until noon. Our bodies are taken from their max-relax state, to a state of sheer busyness! For kids this means full school days followed by extracurricular activities, and for their parents it means adding more duties (e.g. packing lunches) to their already busy schedules. For the working folk, Summer tends to be a bit more relaxed around offices, with so many people vacationing; but once September arrives, the work pace can increase quite a bit.
Three, September brings about more stresses. Reasons two and three sort of go hand in hand; suddenly the days are longer with work and as a result, the days contain more stress. Some people love the "new-ness" of September, while others find it upsetting or stressful. Also, the Fall months bring about a bunch of family related stresses (note: these are sources of stress for some people, not all), including Thanksgiving and Christmas (while the shopping, cooking, socializing, and traveling are fun for many, they can be very difficult for others, especially for those without families). And thus September can be stressful also because of these big family holidays looming.
Fourth, September brings about more people exposure to less nature exposure. Instead of spending lots of time outdoors, we're spending more time indoors due to work or due to cooler weather. The Summer allows us to spend lots of quality time with Nature, revitalizing us and giving us high vitality. The indoor working/living environment has more scary pathogens than the great outdoors, so moving indoors challenges our immune systems. Also, while many people are happy to spend parts of their Summers in solitude in the cottage, alone in the garden, or reading a book in peace, September brings us into contact with more people. Not saying that people are a bad thing (:P), just saying that our germ-y friends, coworkers, and strangers also challenge our immunity.
These four reasons explain why September can be a rough month on our health. As such, here are couple of suggestions to help your body cope with the change:
First, dress accordingly! Start checking the Weather Network before bed each day so that you aren't spending the day freezing in your adorable Summer attire. As much as you hate to dig out the sweaters and jackets, they'll keep you warm and cozy. Who knows? You might even like the fashion change.
Second (and third), get yourself on a good, restful sleep schedule. I can't stress enough how important sleep is! It will help you get through the long days, cope better with stress, and will keep your immunity strong. Also, get the whole family on a schedule. Regular bedtimes and mealtimes are important. Buy a planner or a big calender to help keep everyone in-the-loop and on time for activities and appointments (which can help to minimize unnecessary family stress).
Third, find ways to elevate stress. If September is proving to be a stressful time, make sure to arrange "me time". Luckily, September is when classes start, so consider signing yourself up for something artsy, creative, or sporty. If group activities aren't for you, try scheduling in some quality alone time, like taking a walk during lunch hour, having a bubblebath, or reading before bed. Many people find journaling (or even blogging :P) helpful.
Fourth, still get some sunshine. While the days of frolicking outdoors are mostly behind us, it is not yet time to hibernate indoors! Try to still get outside as much as possible. If may feel cold, but it's really not when you compare September temperatures to those of January! Remember that when the leaves start to fall, there will be lots of racking to do, providing you with plenty of time to reconnect with nature ;)
As exposure to more people and more germs is inevitable as we move indoors, the best approach in staying healthy is to keep your personal health in check. Super bugs really don't exist, we just get sick when our own immune systems are weakened and then normal bugs take over. Thus we must sleep enough, eat well, exercise adequately, keep positive, and de-stress as necessary.
Take home message from this post: although September is busy, don't forget to schedule-in time for your health