Healthy, Wealthy, Wise: A Cheat Sheet to Self-Improvement this Fall

Healthy, Wealthy, Wise: A Cheat Sheet to Self-Improvement this Fall

Take on the season with these tips for physical, financial and mental wellness

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Forget New Year’s: fall is the time to turn over a new leaf on your self-improvement (pun intended). Everything amazing revs up again in autumn: your favourite TV shows, blanket scarves, controversial pumpkin-flavoured beverages—you get the gist. What’s more inspiring than synching your personal rebirth to the launch of pumpkin-spice everything?

Whether you’re looking to tune up your physical, mental or financial life, here are some lesser-known ways to home in on your best self this fall.

One of the easiest ways to incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine is to walk more. Research shows that exercising after work isn’t enough to protect you from the damaging effects of sitting all day. This means us desk jockeys need to work extra hard to fit activity into our workday, not just around it. Book a walking meeting with a colleague instead of a meeting room. Rather than sitting in a coffee shop with friends, get your drinks to go and explore one of our city’s parks (you’ll never get tired of wandering High Park).

Is a diet change more up your alley? There’s a lot you can do now to help keep the billions of bacteria in your tummy happy. Take a probiotic supplement and consume fermented foods—like yogurt, kimchee and kefir—to help keep your good bacteria flourishing. Eating higher-fibre foods and upping your polyphenols (think: dark chocolate and green tea) have also been linked to greater gut health.

Fall is also a good time to address those preventive health topics you’ve been meaning to but have been avoiding for one reason or another. For example, most of us have heard about HPV (human papillomavirus) but might not know it’s the world’s most common STI (sexually transmitted infection) and the leading cause of cervical cancer. About 75 per cent of sexually active Canadians will develop an HPV infection at some point during their lives. Luckily, there’s tons you can do to help protect yourself against certain types of HPV, like using condoms, quitting smoking, limiting your number of sexual partners and getting vaccinated. Getting regular pap tests is also the best defence against cervical cancer.

We all know the feeling: that deep-set anxiety that hits as soon as you’re about to check your bank statement online. But outright avoiding looking at your cash flow out of fear will hurt you in the long run—and only increase your fear toward money.

One of the first steps you can take toward financial wellness is cutting lazy spending. In a city like ours, it often seems easier to hail an Uber, grab a latte on the run or order lunch takeout than to take public transit or make our meals at home. But spending $10 here and there on convenience—not genuine need or pleasure—adds up in a major way. Avoid this situation by planning ahead. Leave home with enough time to spare in order to avoid that last-minute cab ride. Prep your lunches (or at least a few of them) on the weekend. Invest a few minutes every morning in brewing your own coffee.

If you want a partner in crime to help you manage your moolah, try downloading a money-management app. Getting even just a little more diligent with recording your spending can help you save hundreds of dollars and meet your other financial goals even faster. Being mindful of your spending will help you prevent situations like that one cocktail that turned into five, or those one or two (or seven) bath bombs you bought to treat yourself on an off-day.

One significant way to get wise about your fall self-improvement is to give your mental health some much-needed TLC. First off, on weekdays, you should be taking your lunch break (did you know that one in four Canadian workers don’t?). Second, step away from the computer. Use this time to disconnect from work and reconnect with yourself. Mindfulness apps are perfect for squeezing in a few minutes of quality you time. And yes, we know mindfulness might just be the biggest buzzword right now, but it’s justified. It can have huge benefits, from easing anxiety to calming aches and pains to improving your sex life.

Another way to boost your wisdom this season is to learn a new skill (or sharpen up an old one). Have a few spare evenings each week? Fill them with a fun hands-on activity, like the cooking classes at Dish. Is your French a lot rustier than it used to be? Brush up on verbs and grammar at one of the YMCA’s adult French courses.

With a healthier bod, a new chunk of change in your pocket and a new skill or two, you’ll be more than ready to strut into 2019 as an improved version of the already amazing you. So make like an autumnal beverage and spice up your life.