January calls to mind New Year’s resolutions, and spring is synonymous with cleaning, but autumn is often tantamount to cozying up with a good book, a warm fire and recipes to make and taste over the impending holidays. All of which is well and good; but between the brisker air and changing leaves, autumn should also be about falling into a healthy habits that’ll keep you and your family happy and well for the winter season. And since contentment relies on peace of mind, why not use these crisper months to put yourself at ease?
Here are some prioritizing and organizing tips t o help you declutter your life and make room for harmony:
It’s 11:30 pm, the house is quiet, your most important tasks are done for the day, and still, you can’t sleep—and to top it all off, you have a super-important meeting in the morning. What gives?
Insomnia is often the result of an overstimulated mind. Unmet responsibilities, upcoming chores, future obligations—all can plague us the moment we hit the sheets and may heighten our stress levels, rob us of oh-so-vital shuteye, and lead to straight-up misery.
To quiet that untenable chatter—and get some much needed rest—consider starting a habit of composing daily To Do lists.
Sound simple-minded? Think again. Writing down tasks forces you to focus. Without a concrete plan, abstract worries can seem insurmountable. Concentrating on specifics and creating an agenda offers a sense of control over your life, while prioritizing items ensures that trivial chores—like framing that old photo—don’t take energy away from what’s truly necessary.
Bonus tip: Forgo your tablet for once and break out the pen and paper. Research shows that the act of writing in longhand supports concentration and absorption, while merely opening your laptop invites distraction. (Facebook, anyone?)
True, true: Summer is behind us and comfy sweaters are just weeks away, if not here already. But now is not the time to abandon your warm-weather pledge to mindful eating and heart-pumping activities. Indeed, autumn—a season characterized by transformation—provides the perfect chance to stick to your resolution list and recalibrate your eating regimen and recommit to your workout routine.
Start off by decluttering your diet. Peer into your pantry and fridge and dispose of anything that’s past its due date. Then, get rigorous. Foods high in refined sugars—last year’s Halloween candy in the freezer, that tin of buttery cookies in your cabinet, even that energy drink on your second shelf—can negatively impact your health and may place you and your family at risk of diabetes, poor digestion and blood sugar instability. Give away or toss out processed foods like frozen pizzas and boxed cereal, which are often teeming with unwholesome ingredients. Examine frequent indulgences—such as that daily latte—and see if you can’t replace them with something more beneficial for your brain and body (herbal tea with a splash of almond milk is a great fall fave). Fill that extra space in your tummy and kitchen with organic fruits and vegetables, and plan ahead: The more ingredients you have in place to whip together a healthy meal, the less inclined you’ll be to reach for that pumpkin-spiced cheesecake.
And while pool days and stand up paddling might have to wait for sunnier months, there’s still plenty of time to take advantage of outdoor activities. Morning hikes, afternoon bike rides, even raking the yard exerts your muscles and detoxification systems. (Hello, sparkling skin and clearer thoughts!)
Home is where the heart is—which means that your living space should be as welcoming and organized as possible.
Consider this: Studies demonstrate a direct correlation between clutter and issues like obesity, anxiety and procrastination. Why? The less streamlined your space is, the more you’re pulled into the past (think: last season’s magazines) or propelled into the future (“I’ll wear that dress someday”). Genuine happiness, however, rests in the present. What’s more, clutter can be a serious drain on your time and energy. The longer it takes you to find that bill in that mass of old mail, the more frustrated you’ll become—and the more stressed out you’ll end up.
Start with your drawers and be realistic. If you haven’t used a paperclip since 2001, you probably don’t need a box of 1,000 of them—but your second grader’s teacher might. Go through your closet with the same decisiveness, and donate accordingly. Pay your bills online, unsubscribe to mailing lists, and box up those tomes that are overwhelming your bookshelves. Functional, pleasant spaces bolster creativity and productivity, both of which are boons to a happier, healthier heart. And a good rule of thumb? “What goes in must come out.” In other words, don’t jam leftovers on top of last week’s Thai takeout, and donate one item of clothing for each new piece you bring in. Sure, it may seem like a minor habit—but it has major rewards.
Between Snapchat and Shameless, Twitter and TMZ, it’s no wonder that most of us feel yanked in every single direction. The key to a nourished soul is to silence distractions, banish anxiety and get grounded in the here and now.
Have a habit of keeping your phone by your dinner plate? Hide it if you must—your focus should be on your meal and the company around you. Can’t finish a project because breaking news constantly competes for your attention? Install Stay Focused and keep the spotlight on the task at hand. And exercise your right to say no, whether that means turning down a dinner invitation or rejecting your inner perfectionist’s impossibly high standards. Instead, get in the habit of moving through life with presence, purpose, and joy. Before you know it, those New Year’s resolutions may be obsolete—or at least half crossed out on that To Do list in your ultra-organized drawer.