As the saying goes, 30 days have September, April, June and November…but what else does September hold for us? It has been said that as well as ‘orange being the new black’, ‘Monday being the new Thursday’, that ‘September is the new January’, but what does that mean to us?
The school year
September was always our start to the new school year. With fresh uniforms, updated pencil cases and renewed vigour from the activities of the summer break. It’s also the start of the college and university year too. So, if this start to the new academic year has always been the start of new things, why don’t we keep it going?
The New Year
Traditionally January, as the start of our calendar year is the time to start afresh, but it’s not necessarily the best and most productive month to try and adopt new habits; it’s cold, dark and wet, we have just got through the festivities of Christmas and are firmly in the most miserable, depressing time of year. Not very inspiring for changes and challenges.
The most common resolutions (over 50%), tend to be focused around losing weight or getting fit and healthy; another hard thing to start in the darkest months after gaining a few extra pounds over Christmas, a survey from Valued Opinions found. According to a Comres poll for Bupa, only around 10% of us actually keep our resolutions and this tends to be because of a lack of motivation and commitment, which again is difficult to muster in January. We have every good reason to not do it in January, so then why not try September?
September is a great month, as you still have the warm weather and light evenings before the clocks go back and the renewed energy from a summer break; all before hibernating mode starts when autumn and winter set in.
With the summer seemingly arriving later each year and more ‘Indian summers’ than we can ever remember before, it’s not hard to see why September could be the best time of year to get fit and healthy with your eating, drinking and exercise regimes.
You can set new challenges and goals, join new clubs and form new habits. In fact, by the end of the month they could be part of your new routine, as habits can be made or broken in just 21 days. As much as 40% of our daily behaviour is habitual, reports New Scientist, so those burning New Year’s resolutions that we never seem to keep, maybe it’s time to dust them off and give them a proper go?
Another good reason to kick start a positive stage in your year is the post-holiday blues. That end of the holiday season that we used to get before going back to school. Now it’s putting the socks back on, maybe still wearing a memento of a faraway place or feeling you have a creative urge to start that book you wanted to write, debating if it’s time to open that dive centre in Thailand or the yoga retreat on a Greek island.
Life coach Shannah Kennedy says, that you can combat these blues by ‘planning your weeks and months and incorporating other inspiring events and projects that will keep you excited.’ Sounds like another good reason for our September resolutions? She continues, ‘Ideally, every time you come back from a holiday you have an opportunity to dump an old habit and have the energy to build in a new habit – a new way of thinking, a new skill, something you might want to learn or commit to – it doesn’t have to be anything big at all.’
The great outdoors
Being outdoors for longer, whether it’s walking in the setting September sun, going for a run or cycle, can bring you a whole host of benefits. Not only are you enjoying the last of the natural vitamin D supplements from the sun, but also the ever changing scenery provides a mental stimulation that an indoors gym or fitness class just can’t match.
Research has shown that being part of nature has its physiological, as well as physical and psychological benefits. Not only is it good for you but this extra natural light can help you to stave off the symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) as autumn and winter approach. And if it starts to get a bit chillier in the evenings, don’t worry because research from Enlite Fitness has shown that we can burn up to 30% more calories training outside and people who train outdoors experience higher levels of positive post-exercise endorphins.
Another good thing about September, especially if you are looking to continue your summer salads and kick start a heathy eating regime, is that this time of year still has a large number of seasonal crops, fruits, vegetables and salad for you to enjoy. There are English apples, blackberries, plums and pears all great for eating raw or making a wholesome pie. And you can still keep that salad up for a bit longer with fresh lettuce, watercress, rocket and beetroot, as well as kale, leeks, cabbage, broccoli and carrots to enjoy with their many documented health benefits.
The soilassociation.org supports this principal of eating fresh and local produce by holding a month long campaign called Organic September, encouraging people to choose organic products in the shops. They state that organic produce means ‘higher levels of animal welfare, lower levels of pesticides, no manufactured herbicides or artificial fertilisers and more environmentally sustainable management of the land and natural environment.’
So how do you get them to stick?
Professor Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, has some top tips to help you achieve your resolutions:
- Take time to reflect on what you really want to achieve
- Focus on one goal and avoid any previous or usual resolutions
- Break your goal into a series of steps, logging your progress and giving yourself small rewards for sub-goals achieved
- Tell your friends and family so you have support as well as regularly reminding yourself of the benefits of achieving your goal
- Expect to revert to your old habits from time to time, but see this as a temporary setback rather than a reason to give up.
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